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A look at the struggling start for the Dodgers starting pitchers Larry Doby Jersey , and how they struggled mightily against the Cardinals and Brewers."This week on the podcast, a look at the struggling Dodgers starting rotation and how they poorly navigated the minefield of the National League Central, losing six of seven games to the Cardinals and Brewers.The starting staff has disappointed to start the season and things got worse with the injury to Hyun-jin Ryu. Clayton Kershaw is back and Rich Hill will soon follow, but the rest of the rotation has to improve regardless of when the reinforcements come.If you have any questions for future podcasts, please send them to tblapodcast@gmail.com, or tweet us at @ericstephen or @jacobburch.Dodgers rewindIn honor of Ross Stripling delivering the best Dodger start of the season on Sunday, this week’s Dodgers rewind is another Texas A&M product, left-hander Doug Rau.Rau whiffed 21 batters for Class-A Bakersfield in 1970. Thanks, 1980 Topps.Rau was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of baseball’s secondary June draft in 1970 (the draft was structured differently back then; this version is no more), picked seventh overall behind Bob Feller Jersey , among others, Dave Kingman and Bucky Dent.Rau was a rotation mainstay for Los Angeles for five seasons (1974-78), a run that included three World Series trips for the Dodgers. Rau topped out at 16 wins in 1976, posting a 2.57 ERA in 231 innings for a 131 ERA+.In many ways, Rau was the left-handed Chad Billingsley. Both were first-round picks, both pitched in parts of eight seasons with the Dodgers before missing a season with injury — rotator cuff for Rau in 1980, Tommy John surgery for Billingsley in 2014 — then finishing out their career with a brief one-off comeback attempt with another team.Rau and Billingsley each pitched 219 games for the Dodgers, 190 starts for Billingsley and 184 for Rau. Rau won 80 games with a 106 ERA+ with LA, Billingsley won 81 with a 110 ERA+. They also both shared the stigma of postseason failures with the Dodgers. Both pitched six postseason games, including three starts for the Dodgers http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey , with Rau posting a 6.55 ERA and Billingsley at 6.88.A postseason moment was perhaps Rau’s most memorable incident with the Dodgers. Down 1-0 with two runners in scoring position with nobody out after three straight hits in the second inning of Game 4 of the 1977 World Series, Tommy Lasorda visited Rau on the mound and got into a heated exchange, a classic Lasorda profanity-laced rant, before removing him for reliever Rick Rhoden.Rau: “I feel good Tommy.”Lasorda: “I don’t give a shit you feel good, there’s four motherf**king hits up there.”Podcast linksRSS feedEpisode link (time: 47:10) Courtesy of his three National League Cy Young Awards, MVP, five ERA titles and numerous other accomplishments, Kershaw has a reputation as the best pitcher of his era that precedes him.And yet it's an open secret that he's not invincible anymore. The 2.73 ERA he posted in 2018 was his highest since 2010. He's downplayinga fastball that no longer has above-average velocity. Likewise, his strikeout rate was barely above average this season.For his part, Ryu has also been downplaying a low-velocity fastball since he reclaimed his status as a regular in the Dodgers rotation in 2017 after he endured two years ruined byshoulder surgery.He nonetheless put up a 1.97 ERA in 15 starts this season. His walk and home run rates were basically equal to Kershaw's Joe Carter Jersey , and he struck out 9.7 batters per nine innings to Kershaw's 8.7.So while Roberts isn't likely to say it while he and Kershaw are still inhabiting the same planet, Ryu is arguably a better pitcher than Kershawright now.Moreover, the 31-year-old had the approach needed to silence Atlanta's bats out of the gate.As MLB Network's Tom Verducci alluded to during Thursday's broadcast, Braves hitters like to swing their bats. They had the highest swing rate of any National League team, and they especially loved hacking at first-pitch fastballs (meaning four-seamers and two-seamers):20.2 Swing%, 2nd in MLB.667SLUG%, 2nd in MLBWhen it comes to first-pitch fastballs, Kershaw and Ryu couldn't be more different. The former led with heat 64.4 percent of the time. The latter? Only 41 percent.Ryu didn't budge from this formula against the Braves in Game 1. Only 10 of his 25 first pitches (40 percent) were fastballs, and only a handful were in the strike zone:Image courtesy of BaseballSavant.MLB.comBraves hitters never got comfortable against Ryu's backward, inside-out approach. They mustered four hits off him and walked zero times. Ryu struck out eight.For now http://www.indiansfanproshop.com/authentic-b.j.-upton-jersey , it's good enough for the Dodgers that Ryu's mastery led the way to a 1-0 series lead. What could make Roberts' call look even better in hindsight is if it has a positive effect on Kershaw in Game 2.It's fair to question (as Jon Weisman did at Dodger Thoughts) whether Kershaw's terrible postseason track record is actually that terrible. But everyone and their uncle knows it's not good, which has to do with how he's never taken the mound in October under anything less than a glaring spotlight. Only Kershaw himself knows for sure, but it's fair to wonder how much responsibility that pressure bears for his past failures.This time, however, things will be a little different when Kershaw takes the bump at Chavez Ravine on Friday.Nobody will expect the lefty to get the Dodgers off on the right foot. He must only continue what Ryu started. That's less of a tall task. It may only help him improve on his recent playoff debuts鈥攕ee his6.69 ERA in four NLDS Game 1s between 2014 and 2017.If so, people will have to think twice before second-guessing any further surprises from Roberts.More importantly, the Dodgers' 1-0 lead could turn into a 2-0 lead. Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.

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