Brad Ausmus(notes) is likely in line to get a start behind the plate for Los Angeles. Coming off another tough game at the plate, the Dodgers may want to reconsider putting the light-hitting veteran in the lineup.
After a quick turnaround and with a knuckleball pitcher starting, the Dodgers will probably have to make do with Ausmus as they try to end their slump Saturday against the Cincinnati Reds.
Los Angeles (76-53) took two of three against Colorado, its closest pursuer in the NL West, entering this three-game series but couldn’t continue its momentum Friday night in a 4-2 loss to injury-depleted Cincinnati (56-71).
Though the Reds have won five straight, they’re a team the Dodgers expect to take advantage of as they try to hold off the Rockies. Los Angeles won 20 of its previous 23 against Cincinnati.
A poor performance at the plate cost Los Angeles, which went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
The 40-year-old Ausmus is a career .252 hitter and has never had more than nine home runs in a season. Martin is having a subpar year, batting .257 with four homers and 38 RBIs, but he commands much more respect from opposing pitchers than Ausmus does.
“There’s no question we need him,” manager Joe Torre said. “That’s the responsibility he’s had for years. Right now, he’s just a little out of whack.”
If Haeger has another dominant performance, though, the Dodgers won’t need much production from their lineup. The right-hander walked four, gave up three hits and struck out a career-high seven in seven innings to beat the Chicago Cubs 2-0 on Saturday.
Haeger believes heat and humidity help make his knuckleball even more unpredictable, and Saturday’s temperature is expected to climb as high as 93 degrees.
“Any time it’s humid out there, I think it’s going to help. It’s definitely easier to grip the ball,” Haeger said. “I like pitching day games because it’s warm out, and I got a good sweat going.”
This will be Haeger’s first appearance against the Reds.
Cincinnati will counter with Matt Maloney(notes) (0-2, 6.11), who is being recalled from Triple-A Louisville after going 9-9 with a 3.08 ERA in 22 starts there. The left-hander struggled in his first three major league starts before being sent to the minors June 20, surrendering six home runs in 17 2-3 innings.
Maloney has never faced the Dodgers.
The Reds have a 2.88 ERA during their winning streak, their longest since a six-game run May 12-18.