The Los Angeles Dodgers, who have won five straight series, will try to keep the good times flowing on Tuesday, when they visit the Miami Marlins to start a three-game set.
During those past five series, the Dodgers are 12-4 as they continue to dominate baseball. They have the best record in the majors (79-41) and the largest division lead (19 games) as well. They are a virtual lock to win their seventh straight division title.
The Marlins are on the other end of the spectrum. They have the worst record (44-73) in the National League, although they did put up a good fight this past weekend, splitting four games with the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.
Tuesday's pitching matchup will feature Dodgers superstar left-hander Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 2.77 ERA) against Marlins rookie right-hander Jordan Yamamoto (4-3, 4.17 ERA).
The "superstar" label should not be tossed around lightly, but it fits in the case of the 31-year-old Kershaw, who is a three-time Cy Young Award winner. He is also an eight-time All-Star, has a no-hitter to his credit and won the NL MVP award in 2014 and a Gold Glove in 2011.
Kershaw, however, started this season on the injured list and didn't make his debut until April 15. He didn't get his first win until April 27.
But since the calendar turned to July, Kershaw has been as brilliant as ever. In his past six starts -- all quality starts -- he is 4-0 with a 1.66 ERA. On July 20, he held the Marlins to two hits in six scoreless innings of a no-decision in a 10-6 win in Los Angeles.
Kershaw is 5-5 with a 2.55 ERA in 12 career starts against the Marlins, including 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA in four starts at Marlins Park. It will be his first game at Marlins Park since 2016.
If there is a Dodgers weakness, it may be in their bullpen, where closer Kenley Jansen has blown five save chances this year (26-for-31) and has a 3.74 ERA that is on pace to be the worst of his 10-year career.
Jansen was used in a non-save situation on Saturday, raising eyebrows.
"We had a good conversation," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of Jansen. "The most important thing is to give him consistent work. There are certain save situations that may be compromised."
Meanwhile, the Marlins will start Yamamoto, who was brilliant in his first two major league starts. He fired seven scoreless innings in his debut on June 12 and then duplicated that feat six days later, allowing just five total hits over that span.
Yamamoto has clearly regressed, however. After allowing just six earned runs in his first six starts, he has given up 19 in his past four outings.
In his only career game against the Dodgers, Yamamoto took the loss on July 21, allowing five runs in four innings.
But if there's reason for optimism for the Marlins heading into Tuesday's game, it has to do with their lineup in general and third baseman Starlin Castro in particular.
Castro lost his starting job at second base when highly touted rookie Isan Diaz made his major league debut on August 5. Diaz is clearly Miami's second baseman of the present and the future.
But the 29-year-old Castro, whose contract expires at the end of this season, has been red hot lately, going 11-for-19 with two homers and eight RBI in the Braves series.
Castro is hitting .262 with 11 homers and 54 RBI this season. But since the All-Star Game, he is batting .316 with five homers and 20 RBI in 29 games.
"Starlin continues to swing it," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He can hit."
--Field Level Media
Red-hot Dodgers look to roll through Miami
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