DODGERS (30-16) AT REDS (20-25)
4:10 p.m. ET; FS-O, SNLA, MLB.TV
Perhaps another game against the Los Angeles Dodgers is exactly what Southern California native Tyler Mahle needs to break into the win column this season.
Mahle, who hails from just outside of Los Angeles in Westminster, has yet to win a game in eight starts and will get his second crack at the Dodgers on Saturday at home in the second game of a three-game series.
On April 16, Mahle pitched in front of family and friends at Dodger Stadium, giving up four runs on 11 hits over six innings, while getting touched for a home run by Joc Pederson. It started him on a stretch where he would give up at least four runs in three consecutive outings.
He reversed the trend in impressive fashion to start the month of May, giving up just one run in consecutive starts against the New York Mets and Oakland A’s. But the Reds offense was shut out in each game, a pair of hard-luck losses.
At San Francisco on Sunday, it was another four runs over 6 1/3 innings as the Reds were defeated. He might be 0-5, but he has had his moments while posting a 3.97 ERA, even though Cincinnati is just 1-7 in his starts and has lost six consecutive.
Against the Giants, he finished with eight strikeouts and cruised into the seventh inning, but a walk to Brandon Crawford and a game-tying pinch-hit home run from Brandon Belt was his undoing.
“(Manager) David (Bell) asked me if I was feeling good; I didn’t give it a second thought,” Mahle told reporters after Sunday’s game. “He gave me a chance to go out there and throw another inning. I blew it. But I’m happy he has that faith in me.”
The Dodgers will counter with right-hander Walker Buehler (4-0, 4.15), who seems to be getting better and better each time out after fastball command was an issue in the early part of the season.
Buehler has struck out 15 total batters in his two May starts, hitting 99 mph on the radar gun in a May 6 victory over the Atlanta Braves. In his most recent outing on May 11, he pitched seven scoreless innings against the Washington Nationals.
“Here and there you find something, a different feel, a different mechanic, or something you’re not quite doing like last year,” Buehler said after his last start. “And I think the past few outings, I think I’ve gotten a little bit closer, and we’ll keep trying.”
Buehler is 1-1 in two career starts against the Reds, posting a 1.46 ERA. The lone victory came on April 17 when he held the Reds to no earned runs over 6 1/3 innings of a 3-2 Dodgers’ win at Los Angeles.
Mahle does know what it feels like to defeat Buehler. The two squared off May 10 of last year, with the Reds earning a 4-1 victory. Mahle did not give up an earned run in that game, while Buehler gave up two.
The status of the Dodgers’ Justin Turner is day-to-day heading into Saturday’s game. The third baseman came out of Friday’s contest with a left shin contusion after he fouled a ball off his leg in the third inning.
–Field Level Media