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The biggest matchup of the weekend could also be the preview of the 2023 MLB World Series as the Los Angeles Dodgers (31-20) and the Tampa Bay Rays (37-15). This is a matchup that is going to be the biggest series in May if not the entire season already. Both the Dodgers and the Rays are some of the best in the league in all phases of the game.
The Dodgers have been highly efficient in the month of May as they have won six of the seven series. They are coming off a 2-1 series win on the road versus the Atlanta Braves where they have averaged eight runs in those two wins.
Los Angeles ranks first in the NL in runs accounted (279), 10th in hits accounted for (403), first in home runs (82), first in walks (220), 14th in strikeouts encountered (457), 14th in batting average (.236), fifth in on-base percentage (.326) and second in slugging percentage (.777). Whether it is Will Smith’s reliability to get on base, Freddie Freeman’s efficiency to get a hit, or seeing the power-hitting performances of Mookie Betts, Max Muncy, and rookie James Outman, the Dodgers are loaded with reliable playmakers that can turn the game around at any point.
Through 51 games this season, Freeman has accounted for a team-high 42 runs, a team-high 66 hits, 18 double-base hits, nine home runs, 31 RBIs, 24 walks, a team-high batting average of .325 and an on-base percentage of .399. Betts is one of the most reliable big-time hitters in the MLB this season at 47 hits, 37 runs, 11 home runs 30 RBIs, 31 walks, a batting average of 255, and an on-base percentage of .364.
While the Dodgers are not to the standards of pitching efficiency as the Braves in the NL, they still found solid performances from time to time. The Dodgers are ninth in the NL in hits allowed (413), sixth in runs allowed (223), seventh in home runs allowed (58), sixth in strikeouts (429), and seventh in ERA (4.25).
The Rays are the biggest surprise of the 2023 MLB Season through the first two months. Their roster building and player development have worked big time as they possess a roster full of reliable playmakers in the batting, fielding and pitching. As a result, the Rays are in the top half of the AL in every major batting category and possess a reliable set of starting pitchers and replacement pitchers.
Tampa Bay ranks first in the AL in runs accounted for (310), second in hits (473), first in home runs (97), first in stolen bases (62), second in walks (179), second in batting average (.269), first in on-base percentage (.497) and first in slugging percentage (.843).
Four players for the Rays have accounted for double-digit home runs this season. Three batters have accounted for at least 30 or more runs with four more accounting for at least 24 runs.
Leftfielder Randy Arozarena has accounted for 39 runs, 56 hits, a team-high 11 home runs, a team-high 39 RBIs, a team-high 27 walks, a batting average of .311, and an on-base percentage of .415. First baseman Yandy Diaz has accounted for a team-high 35 runs, 49 hits, a team-high 11 home runs, 27 RBI, 24 walks, only 27 strikeouts, a team-high batting average of .322, and an on-base percentage of .425.
The pitching core of the Rays is one of the most consistent in the league, despite going through a series of injuries. The Rays are ranked fifth in the AL in hits allowed (396), fourth in runs allowed (196), and fifth in home runs allowed (52).
The over/under for Friday’s game is set at 9.5 which suggests this season could be a high-scoring series. This series has the potential to be the highest-scoring series this weekend due to the number of elite and reliable batters this season on both teams.
Clayton Kershaw (2.98 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched) is set to pitch and start since being on bereavement leave on Saturday for the Dodgers. At 35 years old, Kershaw is still one of the best pitchers in the league by allowing only 49 hits, 22 runs, and 14 walks while delivering 69 strikeouts. Jalen Beeks (4.68 ERA in 25 innings pitched) is set to have his sixth and biggest start this season.
In Sunday’s matchup, the Dodgers will be going deep into their bullpen to Gavin Stone (10.13 ERA in 8.0 innings pitched). Stone has allowed 13 hits, 10 runs, and seven walks while two strikeouts in two games played and started for Los Angeles. The Rays, on the other hand, will go with one of their most reliable and experienced pitchers this season in Taj Bradley (4.44 ERA in 24.1 innings pitched). In five games played and started, Bradley has allowed 24 hits, 12 runs, and only four walks while delivering 34 strikeouts.
Saturday’s game could be another stellar performance from Kershaw, who still showing his high level of efficiency despite some rough games in the month of May. With the reliability of their batting game and Kershaw at the mound, the Dodgers are likely going to be the winners on Saturday. This Sunday’s game will be a streaming-viewed game on Peacock where the audiences will see both teams’ great batting teams. The Rays will more than likely have a big win due to the poor start of Stone at the mound for the Dodgers.
Los Angeles Dodgers
Tampa Bay Rays
Freddie Freeman (.325)
Yandy Diaz (.322)
Max Muncy (15)
Yandy Diaz, Randy Arozarena & Josh Lowe (11)
Max Muncy (35)
Randy Arozarena (39)
Will Smith (.412)
Yandy Diaz (.412)
Freddie Freeman (66)
Wander Franco (57)
Clayton Kershaw (6)
Shane McClanahan (8)
Caleb Ferguson (0.98)
Jeffrey Springs (0.56)
Clayton Kershaw (69)
Shane McClanahan (75)
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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