Jul 20, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) looks on during the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Dodgers Forge Into Divisional Heavy September with Weekend Series vs. Padres

Hyun-jin Ryu (12-5, 3.08) vs. Eric Stults (8-11, 3.72)

Lineup: 

Puig RF
Crawford LF
Ramirez SS
Gonzalez 1B
AJ Ellis C
Ethier CF
M Ellis 2B
Uribe 3B
Ryu P

The Dodgers will wrap up a very successful month of August this weekend with the first of many divisional match-ups scheduled for the final month of the regular season. The three-game series with the Padres will finish off the homestand, and then the Dodgers will head over to Colorado for their final series at the deadly confines of Coors Field. Other than a weekend series in Cincinnati, the Dodgers will solely face N.L. West Division opposition for the remainder of their regular season games. The most important two series will be those remaining against the second-place D-backs. The Dodgers will host Arizona for three games at Dodger Stadium September 9-11th, and then the Dodgers will play four games in Arizona from September 16-19th. After the conclusion of that final meet-up at Chase Field, it will become much clearer to how the divisional race will play out.

The Dodgers will have some added help come Sunday when they have the opportunity to call up anyone from their 40-man

Will Eric Stults stifle his former team? Photo: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

roster when active rosters are expanded. The Dodgers are most likely to call up a third catcher (Drew Butera) to spell some rest for A.J. Ellis, at least one more outfielder (Scott Van Slyke or Alex Castellanos), another shortstop (Dee Gordon or Justin Sellers), and utility player Elian Herrera may get the call as well. As far as pitching, relievers like Javy Guerra may return to Dodger Stadium, and we may see either Matt Magill or Stephen Fife as well. This will all depend on the Dodgers planned use of their new acquisition Edinson Volquez and their decision on Chris Capuano. These September call-ups may not give us a glimpse into any of the top prospects within the Dodgers farm system like past years have. I don’t expect Joc Pederson or Zach Lee to be called up, and Corey Seager will be playing in the Arizona Fall League once the minor league season concludes.

Friday’s series opener with San Diego will still be sans September call-ups, but the Dodgers should be well matched against the fourth place Padres (60-73). The Padres will be sending old friend Eric Stults to the mound for game one. Like Edwin Jackson, Eric Stults was originally drafted by the Dodgers. The left-hander pitched with the Dodgers from 2006-2009. Ironically Stults injured his thumb in May 2009 on a then Miami Marlins Hanley Ramirez bunt attempt. After a D.L. stint he finished the season with the Isotopes before being sold to the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of the Japanese League in March of 2010. He briefly pitched for the Rockies in 2011 and for a short time with the White Sox the following season. He ended up in San Diego in 2012 where he has pitched the last two seasons. The Dodgers have already faced Stults earlier this season, and to our shock and dismay he hit his first career homerun back in April off of Chad Billingsley on Jackie Robinson night of all nights. Seems so long ago, doesn’t it?

 

Hyun-jin Ryu is hitting .191 with 9 hits (2 doubles and a triple) Photo: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Stults has not won a game since July 14th versus San Francisco. Last time out he lost to the Cubs after pitching 6 1/3 innings and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks. The southpaw is 1-2 with a 3.75 ERA against the Dodgers in his career. At Dodger Stadium, he is 6-6 with a 3.83 ERA in 18 games (13 starts). He’s allowed 13 homeruns at Dodger Stadium in those 91 2/3 innings. Even though he’s a lefty, Andre Ethier has had success against Stults in the past. Dre is hitting over .300 against him with a homerun in 3 at-bats. Carl Crawford has hit Stults very well in the past, and the outfielder has a homerun, triple, and 2 RBIs in 7 at-bats against him.

Hyun-jin Ryu was battling a cold during his last start, and it was very apparent from his disappointing performance. He pitched 5 innings and allowed 4 runs on 5 hits with 7 strikeouts and no walks for the loss. Even though Ryu was not himself last time out, the rookie pitcher has been fantastic this season for the Dodgers. He will be vying for his lucky 13th victory. The lefty has been great at home this season, and he is 6-2 with a 2.12 ERA in 12 starts at Dodger Stadium thus far. This will be Ryu’s first start against San Diego.

The drama has been swirling around Yasiel Puig ever since he was called up in June, and during the game on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium Puig was disciplined for his lack of hustle by Don Mattingly. Mattingly said he’s planning to start Puig on Friday, and he had a talk with the young outfielder which cleared the air. Mattingly has really done well in handling the unbridled Cuban during his rookie season. Puig will certainly mature, but he can’t be letting his emotions get in the way of his natural born talent. With the postseason around the corner, Yasiel will need to focus more and give 100% at all times otherwise he may be benched for veterans like Skip Schumaker who always put in the necessary work.

The Dodgers will not face San Diego troublemaker Carlos Quentin. Quentin will undergo yet another knee surgery. Chase Headley has also been dealing with some back stiffness.

Matt Kemp is rehabbing with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes this week, and we will keep you updated on his progress. He is set to DH and play some outfield. [Thursday night Kemp went 0-for-5 with a strikeout as the DH for Rancho Cucamonga]

Prime Ticket will air the 7:10 p.m. game. Come back and let us know your reflections on the game in our postgame thread. Go Blue!

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