The Los Angeles Dodgers used an amazing turnaround to get back on top in the NL West. They may need a similar improvement from their starting rotation to stay there.
The Dodgers (73-64) look for a better performance when they continue a three-game series with the Milwaukee Brewers (63-75) on Tuesday at Miller Park.
After losing 13 of 14 games following the All-Star break, Los Angeles rattled off 17 wins in its next 18 contests to move into first place in the division. In 17 games since Aug. 16, though, the team is one game over .500 after a 6-3 loss to Milwaukee in the series opener on Monday—snapping the Brewers’ season-high 10-game skid.
As the Dodgers try to avoid a third consecutive loss, their starting rotation has manager Grady Little concerned. Los Angeles starting pitchers have failed to last six innings in four straight games, posting an 8.55 ERA in that span and allowing opponents to hit .407.
Greg Maddux gave up six runs and 10 hits over 5 1-3 innings on Monday. Meanwhile, the Dodgers’ bullpen has recorded a 2.40 ERA over the last four games, walking three and striking out 18 over 15 innings.
“If we have to continue to go into the bullpen in the sixth inning, it’s going to make it much more difficult,” said Little. “Our bullpen is deep, but to cover that many innings on a regular basis, that will catch up with you in a hurry. We certainly don’t want that to happen.”
Mark Hendrickson (1-6, 4.99 ERA) takes the mound for Los Angeles on Tuesday. The left-hander’s place in the rotation had been in doubt due to ineffectiveness, but an injury to Chad Billingsley (strained oblique) prevented the Dodgers from making a change.
Hendrickson, whom the Dodgers acquired from Tampa Bay on June 27, allowed four runs and nine hits—two of them homers—over four innings in a 6-5, 16-inning victory over Cincinnati last Tuesday. He also pitched one inning of scoreless relief in Saturday’s 14-5 victory over Colorado.
Hendrickson will face Milwaukee for the first time.
The Brewers counter with Doug Davis (9-9, 5.18), who is trying to avoid losing his fourth straight start. Following a four-game winning streak, the left-hander is 0-3 with a 7.16 ERA in his last three outings.
He allowed four runs and six hits over 6 2-3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Houston on Thursday.
Davis won his only career start versus the Dodgers, pitching six shutout innings and scattering four hits in a 4-1 victory on June 1, 2004. He will try to help the Brewers win their first series since taking three games from Colorado Aug. 22-24.
Tony Graffanino went 3-for-5 with three RBIs on Monday for the Brewers, who had been outscored 59-29 during their 10-game losing streak.
“Just winning a game is important, just getting that streak behind us,” Brewers manager Ned Yost said.
Yost’s club has still dropped nine of its last 11 meetings with the Dodgers, and will need to continue to stifle Los Angeles’ hot bats.
J.D. Drew had three hits and two RBIs on Monday for the Dodgers, who are just 29-37 on the road this season.