Clayton Kershaw vs. Zack Greinke showdown on tap for Dodgers-Astros opener

MLB Baseball

The Los Angeles Dodgers completed a three-game series sweep of their rivals, the San Francisco Giants, over the weekend by relying once again on exceptional starting pitching.

The Dodgers’ top four starters are throwing well, and the two lined up for this two game series are no exception, with Clayton Kershaw going six innings while giving up two runs in his last outing, and Wednesday’s likely starter Trevor Bauer giving up one run in 6 1/3 in his, but that masks at least one concern as the Dodgers get set to face the Houston Astros in a two-game interleague road series starting Tuesday.

Outfielder Mookie Betts is battling a left shoulder ailment that led to his playing one game against the Giants. Betts is slashing .258/.366/.452 this season with a 128 adjusted OPS, leading some to wonder how long he’s been impaired.

“Mookie’s never going to use ailments or things as an excuse,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s a guy that prides himself on playing every day, but when you talk about the swing and performing consistently — we talk about the bat, we talk about the front shoulder — that certainly impacts. I just don’t know to the degree that it’s affected performance, but I know that he would never use that as an excuse.”

Left-hander Kershaw (6-3, 3.18 ERA) will get the starting assignment as the Dodgers pursue an eighth consecutive victory. The Dodgers have won each of his last three starts, with Kershaw recording 24 strikeouts over 17 innings while limiting opposing hitters to a .169 batting average. Kershaw is 3-2 with a 2.38 ERA over eight career starts against the Astros.

Right-hander Zack Greinke (4-1, 3.77 ERA) will start the opener for the Astros on Tuesday. He is coming off his best outing in four weeks, having allowed one run on four hits with eight strikeouts over eight innings in an 8-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on May 19. Greinke pitched to a 6.63 ERA over his previous four starts. He logged eight shutout innings against the Seattle Mariners on April 17.

Greinke is 7-7 with a 4.60 ERA over 18 career starts against the Dodgers, for whom he went 51-15 with a 2.30 ERA over 92 starts from 2013-15.

The Astros return home following a lost weekend against the Texas Rangers. Houston entered the series having won 8 of 9 games only to suffer a sweep that included walk-off losses in the series opener and finale and a setback last Saturday in which the Astros blew a three-run lead.

The Astros feature one of the top offenses in the majors, leading the league in batting (.270) while ranking second in OPS (.761), third in on-base percentage (.334) and fourth in slugging (.427). Houston has struggled in stretches hitting with runners in scoring position, however, finishing just 5-for-33 in that situation against the Rangers while stranding 29 baserunners total. Only eight teams have stranded more runners on base per game than the Astros this season.

“We got plenty of hits, we just couldn’t get them with runners in scoring position,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “You go through periods like this. You don’t know when it’s going to happen, you don’t know exactly when you’re going to come out of it. But we’ve certainly got to come out of it against the next opponent that we’re facing in the Dodgers.”

–Field Level Media

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