Without their elite battery of Clayton Kershaw and A.J. Ellis, the Dodgers will have to forge on without them. Upsetting news about A.J. Ellis broke last night. When I learned that A.J. would undergo arthroscopic surgery on his left knee on Tuesday morning, it felt like a ton of bricks fell on me. I will tackle my feelings about losing A.J. in a future post, but for now the Dodgers and Dan Haren will have to trudge on and try to tame the Tigers.
The Tigers come into town for a two-game set at Dodger Stadium for the first Interleague series of the season. The Tigers are 4-1, and with elite pitching and dangerous sluggers, Detroit will be a force to be reckoned with in the American League Central. The Dodgers will not only have to fend off the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer on Tuesday evening, but they will also have to deal with Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera as well as a hot hitting Torii Hunter who has hit homeruns in each of Detroit’s last three games.
Max Scherzer came out and pitched eight scoreless innings in his first start of the season. He made 110 pitches and allowed 4 hits with 7 strikeouts and a walk against the homerless Kansas City Royals. The right-hander has made 4 starts at Dodger Stadium in his career and has a 1-2 record with a 4.38 ERA at Chavez Ravine. Against the Dodgers, he is 1-3 with a 4.15 ERA in 5 total games. Andre Ethier has had the most success against Scherzer, and the left-handed hitter has a .400 batting average against him with 6 hits including a homerun and a double. Matt Kemp is hitless against Scherzer, and Adrian Gonzalez is only hitting .176 against him.
Scherzer has been making some special trips to the batting cage and has been doing bunting drills in order to prepare to hit at the National League stadium. Scherzer is a .169 hitter, and he has 13 hits over his 7-season career. Max hasn’t been in the batter’s box since last August.
Dan Haren will try to repeat his successful Dodger debut when he impressed against the Padres. He allowed 1 run on 4 hits with 6 strikeouts and no walks in the win against the Friars. Haren is no stranger to pitching against the Tigers since he pitched six years in the American League with Oakland and the Angels. He is 5-4 against Detroit with a 3.82 ERA in 11 career starts. Miggy only has 4 hits in 19 at-bats against Haren, but Victor Martinez is hitting .346 with a homerun against Haren. Martinez is expected to DH one game and catch one game in the short series.
As a team, the Dodgers have slugged 8 homeruns and the Tigers have 7. The Tigers are third in the Majors with a team BA of .288 while the
Dodgers are only hitting .242 collectively. The Dodgers are also leading the Majors in strikeouts with 71 (tied with Minnesota).
The Dodgers are going to have to figure out a way to win without Kersh and AJ, but it’s not going to be easy. Hopefully with a rejuvenated Matt Kemp, homerin’ Hanley, and their nasty bullpen, the Dodgers will be able to play a successful April. If the Dodgers can split the series against Detroit, I will call it a success.
Prediction: Andre Ethier continues his success against Max Scherzer
Tune into SportsNet LA (if you can) or MLBN at 7:10 p.m. PT, and check back here for our game recap. Also be sure to visit Gagne’s Game Ball Corner on the front page to see updates for 2014.