The first-place Los Angeles Dodgers take on the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second game of a three-game weekend series on Saturday. In the first game of the series, Walker Buehler and the Dodgers whitewashed the Pirates as David Freese led the way with a grand slam. Los Angeles will look to keep it going in game two, while Pittsburgh would love to even the series at a game apiece.
The Pitching Matchup
This season is no different than any other in recent memory. The Los Angeles Dodgers, with the fourth-highest payroll in baseball, are expected to be one of the top teams in the MLB. Only the Yankees, Astros, and Red Sox had a higher over/under on wins coming into this season than the Dodgers’ 93.5. Right now, they are on pace to win over 100 games, and Saturday’s starter is a huge reason for that.
Hyun-Jin Ryu has been sparkling so far in the 2019 campaign. The issue for Ryu was keeping him consistently healthy. So far this year, that hasn’t been an issue, and he has been living up to his potential. The Dodgers’ dominant lefty (not Clayton Kershaw) is a dazzling 6-1 with a 1.52 ERA, including an ERA of 0.28 during the entire month of May.
A big reason for his success so far in 2019 is his swing and miss percentage. Outside of the zone, he is getting more swing-and-misses than ever before, at 34%. That could spell trouble for the Pirates, as they have the 18th team O-Swing % in the MLB, over 30%.
For the Pirates, they hand the ball to Joe Musgrove. The story of Musgrove’s 2019 is much of the same throughout his entire career. He doesn’t strike out many batters, but he also does not walk many either, nor give up many home runs. Across the board, he’s a very solid pitcher that most teams would welcome with open arms into their rotation.
With the exception of a couple of bad starts in early May, Musgrove has given up three earned runs or fewer in every start this season. Musgrove has just been an unlucky recipient of no run support so far. In four of his starts, he went six innings or longer, gave up three earned runs or less, and didn’t get a win. In fact, in two of those four, he got a loss.
Bellinger Refuses To Slow Down
As important as Ryu is to the outcome of this game, there is one batter who is just as meaningful. That man is Cody Bellinger. Batting almost .400 through the first quarter of the season, Bellinger is giving Christian Yelich a run for his money in the MVP race. Bellinger is absolutely tearing the cover off the ball so far this year, to the tune of a 224 wRC+. Just for reference, the league average is 100, and Yelich was at 166 in his MVP year in 2018. There is simply no stopping Cody Bellinger.
Let’s make this quick and to the point. Ryu is 5-0 with a 2.51 ERA in his career vs. the Pirates. He has a 0.28 ERA this month. He is going to dominate the Pirates on Saturday. Don’t overthink this one. Take the Los Angeles Dodgers -180.