The Los Angeles Dodgers will be looking for right-hander Trevor Bauer to regain his touch when they open a three-game series against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Friday night at Phoenix.
Bauer (6-5, 2.64 ERA) allowed two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his first 11 starts this season but has allowedthree or more in each of his past three outings to raise his ERA from 2.07. The wobble has coincided with MLB's intentions to discipline pitchers for using foreign substances that improve pitch grip.
"Things aren't always going to go your way," Bauer said. "As a competitor, you have to find a way to get around it and continue to be successful and give your team a chance to win."
Bauer has been outspoken this week about MLB's crackdown on sticky substances that have been used to improve pitchers' spin rate on the ball, while also generating more movement.
Bauer's spin rate was decreased over his past two starts, though he still combined for 32 swings and misses in that span.
"I'm not concerned about it," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think it just comes down to making pitches."
Roberts might be more concerned with his team's offense, which was shut out on Wednesday night for the first time since Sept 14. 2019, a streak of 139 games. Los Angeles has been hurt by the absence of three of its top hitters: Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager and Max Muncy. All three are nearing a return from injury, but Seager will need a minor league rehab assignment first.
Bellinger has been nursing a sore left hamstring, but should be ready to return by the middle of next week. Seager, who fractured his hand on May 15, has started swinging the bat, and Muncy could return this weekend after tweaking his ankle last Friday. All three will be with the club in Arizona.
Gavin Lux has been the hottest hitter for the Dodgers, collecting seven hits in his past five games.
The Diamondbacks have lost 14 consecutive games and 23 in a row on the road to break the major league record set by the Philadelphia Athletics in 1943 and matched by the New York Mets in 1963.
"It's really hard because we've been working hard every day," Arizona third baseman Asdrubal Cabrera said. "I feel bad for me and my teammates because I know we're working hard."
The Dodgers swept Arizona in a four-game series at Los Angeles in May, but Bauer did not pitch in the series. He's 1-1 with a 2.91 ERA in three starts against Arizona in his career.
Left-hander Caleb Smith is scheduled to start for the Diamondbacks.
Smith (2-2, 3.61) was roughed up in his most recent outing on Saturday, giving up four runs and five hits in 4 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Angels after he was staked to an early 5-0 lead. The Diamondbacks eventually lost 8-7 to continue their current losing streak.
Smith made two relief appearances against the Dodgers last month and did not allow a run in three innings. His other two appearances against the Dodgers came as a starter. He's 1-1 overall against Los Angeles with a 4.09 ERA.
--Field Level Media