Major League Baseball

Buehler leads juggernaut Dodgers against Marlins

DODGERS (81-41) AT MARLINS (44-75)
3:05 p.m. ET; FS-F, SNLA, MLB.TV

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won six straight series, will go for a three-game sweep on the road against the Miami Marlins on Thursday afternoon.

So far, the Dodgers have outscored the Marlins 24-2 in two games, slugging 10 home runs.

On Thursday, the pitching matchup will feature Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.08 ERA) against Marlins left-hander Caleb Smith (7-6, 3.71).

Buehler has allowed just one run over his past two starts, covering 15 innings. He has had four double-figure strikeout games this season, most recently fanning 15 while walking none against the San Diego Padres on August 3.

“It signifies me being efficient on my pitch count,” Buehler said of his recent success.

Buehler, who made his big-league debut on Sept. 7, 2017, has faced the Marlins three times in his career, posting a 1-0 record with a 2.12 ERA. The last time Buehler faced the Marlins, he allowed just five hits in seven scoreless innings, striking out 11 batters on July 21 in Los Angeles.

But in one career start at Marlins Park, he gave up five runs (four earned) in five innings of a no-decision.

A former first-round pick out of Vanderbilt, the 25-year-old Buehler is looking for his 20th career victory. So far, he is 19-7 with a 3.01 ERA in 54 outings (45 starts). His average fastball (96.6 mph) is well above major league norm.

Smith, meanwhile, has an average fastball of 91.9 mph, but he uses a solid spin rate and deception to retire batters.

In his only career appearance against the Dodgers — which came last season — Smith is 0-1 with a 12.00 ERA.

This year, Smith has been effective at Marlins Park, sporting a 5-2 record with a 3.46 ERA.

Predictably, as a lefty pitcher, he has allowed 16 of his 20 homers this season against right-handed batters, who have a .721 OPS against him. Left-handed batters have just a .620 OPS against him.

Smith has been wildly inconsistent month-to-month this season. He started off strong, 2-0 with a 2.17 ERA in April. From there, he went 1-3 with a 3.94 ERA in May; 0-1, 7.20 in June; 4-0, 3.48 in July; and 0-2, 6.52 so far in August.

Then again, Smith figures to have a tough task facing a red-hot Dodgers lineup. The Dodgers batting order is led by outfielder Cody Bellinger, who is batting .317 with 39 homers and 90 RBIs.

In addition, Max Muncy has 28 homers, Joc Pederson has 24 and Justin Turner has 21, including four in his past three games.

“They are one of three or four teams that if they don’t win the World Series it’s been a bad year,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said when asked about the Dodgers following Wednesday’s game. “They let you know where you are at in competing against them.

“Every time you leave the ball over the plate, they hurt you if you don’t put it in the right spot. And their starting pitchers have throttled us.”

No Marlins batter has had much success in this series, although pinch hitter Curtis Granderson homered in the ninth on Wednesday to spoil a shutout bid in a 9-1 Dodgers win.

–Field Level Media

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