The Dodgers open up a five game all turf road trip which kicks off tonight in Tampa Bay. That’s right the Dodgers will be coming back to Andrew Friedman’s old stomping grounds. This means he’ll be able to go back to his old office say hello to his old boss Stuart Sternberg and dust off his old computer to come up with some new algorithms.
Alright enough of that nonsense. Since this is an interleague game at an American League ballpark, the Dodgers will be using a DH. They’ll also shuffle the rotation a bit with two off-days on this road trip. That means Kenta Maeda gets pushed back until Friday evening in Toronto. The Dodgers feel he could benefit from some extra rest. The Dodgers are coming into the road trip winners of one in a row, and coming off of Clayton Kershaw‘s masterpiece on Sunday afternoon that snapped their nasty little six game losing streak. Will the offense hit now that they are away from Dodger Stadium? I can’t remember the last time the Dodgers played at Trop, but the last time the Dodgers faced the Rays was in 2013 I think. That was that epic comeback game during their 42-8 run at the end of summer.
The Dodgers are 13-13 and enter the series in second place now, a half game behind the Giants in the NL West. The Rays are doing just as crappy as the Dodgers are, actually more. Tampa Bay is 11-13 and in third place, 3.5 games behind the Red Sox in the AL east.
Several Dodgers players are also returning to their old stomping grounds, this includes Carl Crawford, J.P. Howell, and Tuesday’s starting pitcher Scott Kazmir. The veteran left hander had a much better outing last start against the Marlins at Dodger Stadium. In that outing he held the Fish to just two earned runs over seven hits across six frames. He lost because the Dodgers can’t score, but it gave us all some hope that Kazmir can turn things around.
Dodgers Lineup @ Tampa Bay
Hernandez DH Forsythe 2B
Puig RF Guyer DH
Gonzalez 1B Longoria 3B
Turner 3B Pearce 1B
Kendrick 2B Souza Jr. RF
Thompson LF Jennings LF
Ellis C Beckham SS
Pederson CF Kiermaier CF
Culberson SS Casali C
Scott Kazmir-1-2 vs. Matt Moore-1-2
Game time – 4:10 PM TV- SNLA
Kazmir pitched with the Rays from 2004-2009, so he is very familiar with Tropicana Field. Checking the numbers we see that he is 27-18 with a 3.64 ERA in 73 starts at Tropicana Field. He’s made five starts against his old club and is 1-4 with a 5.13 ERA. Overall he is 1-2 with a 5.76 ERA and 21 whiffs in 25 innings pitched. He’s allowed 10.1 hits per nine innings. That has to get better. Kazmir is allowing way too many base runners.
Against the current Rays, he’s allowed a .267 (16 for 60) average against with a .788 OPS. Evan Longoria is hitting .308 (4 for 15) against Kazmir with a home run and four runs driven in.
Kazmir vs. Rays
Tampa Bay will counter with left hander Matt Moore. The Dodgers are set to face a few tough lefties on this all turf trip, and Moore is the first. Moore is 26-years old and drafted by the Rays in the eighth round of the 2007 amateur draft.
This season Moore has had a return to form. He’s 1-2 with a 3.66 ERA in five starts. He’s struck out 35 and walked 7 in 32 innings pitched. His numbers have all been stellar, as he’s posted a 9.8 strikeout per nine rate, 2.0 walks per nine rate and a 3.35 FIP. His career has been derailed by injuries ever since he had a 17-4 season in 2013.
He allowed three earned runs on three hits across seven innings while whiffing nine against Baltimore, but took the loss because like the Dodgers, the Rays didn’t score him any runs. He’s pitched well at the Trop as well. At Tropicana he is 17-12 with a 3.80 ERA over 40 starts. Moore has a 9.0 whiff per nine rate at home. Moore has never faced the Dodgers and only three current Dodgers have ever had any plate appearances against him. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Howie Kendrick have all had brief looks versus Moore. He has five pitches which include a four-seamer, Changeup, curveball, and cutter. He also throws an occasional sinker.
Moore vs. Dodgers
The Dodgers better be careful here, because the turf can be dangerous. There are only two ballparks remaining in MLB that use artificial turf, those are Tropicana Field, and Roger’s Center in Toronto. The Dodgers will be visiting both of those parks on this road trip. Somebody better keep Carl Crawford wrapped in bubble tape. One look at that turf and he’ll end up back on the disabled list.