After an off-day Thursday, the Los Angeles Dodgers have their work cut out for them over the next 34 days as they’re set to average one game per day; they don’t play June 11, but have a doubleheader scheduled June 2.
To make matters more interesting, they begin the stretch facing the St. Louis Cardinals, who have eliminated the Dodgers from the postseason over the last two years. Friday’s game is the first time the teams line up across from one another since Game 4 of the 2014 National League Division Series.
While the names on the front of the jerseys remain the same, the Dodgers are a vastly different team from the one that last took the field at Busch Stadium. For starters, Mike Bolsinger, who the Cardinals have never faced, takes the mound for the Dodgers in the three-game series opener.
The 27-year-old right-hander has been impressive in his four outings on the season thus far. Coming off an eight-inning one-hitter against the San Diego Padres, Bolsinger has not allowed a run in the last 18.2 innings. The last run he allowed was a first-inning home run to Giancarlo Stanton over two weeks ago.
Although Bolsinger is a newcomer to the Cardinals-Dodgers rivalry, he grew up rooting against the Red Birds and believes he may hold an advantage over them. Starting opposite the relatively inexperienced right-hander is veteran John Lackey. Through nine starts this season Lackey is 2-3 with a 3.18 ERA; however he’s 2-1 with a 1.63 ERA in four home starts.
Adrian Gonzalez, batting a career .353 against Lackey, hits in his usual cleanup spot as Justin Turner gets the start at third base tonight and bats fifth. Alex Guerrero gets the nod in left field, though according to J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Scott Van Slyke is available:
SVS took BP today and is available tonight.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) May 29, 2015
Van Slyke had been limited by a back issue. The Cardinals are without Matt Adams, who may miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery for a torn quad, and Matt Holliday due to illness. Holliday’s availability for the weekend games is currently unclear.
At 28-18 the Dodgers hold a 0.5-game lead over the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West and have the second-best record in the NL. The Cardinals enter play 31-16, good for first place in the NL Central and best in the Majors.
CF: Joc Pederson
SS: Jimmy Rollins
2B: Howie Kendrick
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
3B: Justin Turner
RF: Andre Ethier
LF: Alex Guerrero
C: A.J. Ellis
P: Mike Bolsinger
2B: Kolten Wong
3B: Matt Carpenter
SS: Jhonny Peralta
LF: Randal Grichuck
1B: Mark Reynolds
C: Yadier Molina
RF: Jason Heyward
CF: Peter Bourjos
P: John Lackey