The first-place San Francisco Giants host the second-place Dodgers this weekend, the only time the National League West rivals meet between April and August.
The Dodgers juggled their starting rotation last week, enabling Clayton Kershaw to start in the series. The Giants could have juggled their rotation so Madison Bumgarner would start in the series, but didn’t.
The Dodgers were not manipulating their rotation in June, Manager Dave Roberts said. When they decided to give Kenta Maeda an extra day last week to rest a sore hand, that pushed Kershaw back by a day as well — lining him up to face the Giants in Friday’s series opener.
“Most of it was Kenta,” Roberts said.
Catcher A.J. Ellis said he believed the chance to use Kershaw against the Giants was “a small factor” in the Dodgers’ altering their rotation.
“It’s all about accumulating wins,” Ellis said. “I don’t think it matters if Clayton pitches against the Giants or the last day against the Rockies. Right now, it’s a race to 90 to 95 wins, and you want to accumulate them as fast as you can.”
The Giants could have taken advantage of two off days this week to line up Bumgarner against the Dodgers, but San Francisco Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters he preferred to give his starters extra rest.
Bumgarner leads the NL in pitches thrown (1,279), with teammate Johnny Cueto second at 1,273. The Giants’ Jeff Samardzija is tied with Kershaw for third, at 1,255.
Roberts said the time to juggle rotations based on opponents would be in August and September. For now, he said, the chance to start Kershaw this weekend is a fortunate byproduct of Maeda’s getting hit in the hand by a batted ball.
On Friday, Kershaw (8-1, 1.47 earned-run average) faces Cueto (9-1, 2.16) in the weekend’s marquee match-up. On Saturday, Fox gets Scott Kazmir (5-3, 4.46) vs. Samardzija (7-4, 3.33). On Sunday, ESPN gets Mike Bolsinger (1-3, 5.75) vs. Jake Peavy (2-6, 6.41).
In 2014, Corey Seager played in the Futures Game in Minnesota. The Dodgers let him stay an extra couple of days, so he could watch his big brother Kyle play in the All-Star Game.
“That was cool,” Corey Seager said. “It was fun for me. It was even more fun for me to watch him.”
The family fun would be increased exponentially if both brothers played in the All-Star Game, a dream that looked increasingly possible last weekend, when Corey hit five home runs in three games.
Corey is tied for the lead among NL shortstops in WAR (wins above replacement value), according to Baseball-Reference.com. He is batting .283 with 14 home runs. Kyle leads American League third basemen in WAR; he is batting .288 with 10 home runs.
“We never really talk about stuff like that,” Corey said. “That’d be really cool. That’s a special moment — both of you, just you, just him. It’s just cool to be a part of.”
Top prospect Jose De Leon, who had not pitched since May 3 because of a sore shoulder, returned to triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday and pitched three perfect innings. He struck out six, including this side in the second inning: Joey Gallo, Justin Ruggiano and Ike Davis.
De Leon, 23, ranked as the Dodgers’ No. 3 prospect last winter behind Seager and Julio Urias, went 6-7 with a 2.99 ERA last season, split between double-A Tulsa and Class A Rancho Cucamonga. In 114 innings, he struck out 163 and walked 37.