The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants each will introduce a new difference-maker into one of baseball’s best rivalries when the teams meet Monday at Los Angeles.
The Giants will send left-hander Carlos Rodon to the mound in the first meeting between the teams in 2022 while the Dodgers will bring first baseman Freddie Freeman into the matchup.
Each team can claim success over the other in 2021. The Giants ended the Dodgers’ eight-year run as National League West champions last season and won 107 games. San Francisco even won 10 of the 19 games in the season series and six of the 10 at Dodger Stadium.
But the Dodgers, who won 106 regular-season games, ended the Giants’ season in a five-game NL Division Series. It was the first time the rivals faced each other in the playoffs.
While San Francisco is set to unveil Rodon on the Dodgers, they will be without other key pieces. Over the past week, first baseman Brandon Belt, right-handers Dominic Leone and Zack Little, and outfielders Steven Duggar and Mike Yastrzemski all were placed on the COVID-19 list.
Indications are that Yastrzemski and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. (knee) could be ready to face the Dodgers.
Rodon (3-0, 1.17 ERA) will enter after holding the Oakland Athletics to one run over six innings of a home win Tuesday. He did have two starts against the Dodgers during his seven seasons with the Chicago White Sox, both in 2017, going 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA.
Rodon has allowed one run or fewer in all four of his Giants starts and has at least eight strikeouts in all of them. His outing against Oakland gave the Giants a five-game winning streak, but they are just 1-3 since, dropping a home series to the Washington Nationals.
“First, we have to own that we can play better baseball than we did in (the Nationals) series,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said, per the San Jose Mercury News. “Then we can also acknowledge the way that happened, through high-quality at-bats from the Nationals but also some balls on the ground that we weren’t able to convert into outs.”
The series also will mark the return to Los Angeles of former Dodgers fan-favorite Joc Pederson, who is off to a hot start with six home runs and a 1.127 OPS in 16 games with San Francisco but has been day-to-day with an adductor strain.
The Dodgers’ offense continues to thrive without Pederson and former shortstop Corey Seager, who left via free agency. Pederson is with his third team since leaving Los Angeles after the 2020 season.
Freeman has taken over for Seager as the Dodgers’ steady left-handed power hitter, batting .309 with an .869 OPS and three home runs. But the club is in a lull, winning just two of its past five games against two last-place teams: the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers.
Julio Urias, who will take the mound for the Dodgers on Tuesday, started in one of those three recent defeats, but pitched well, allowing one run over six innings at Arizona on Wednesday. Urias (1-1, 2.50) has faced the Giants 20 times (14 starts) and is 2-3 with a 2.61 ERA.
Freeman, a Southern California native, was asked on the Dodgers’ SportsNet LA broadcast Sunday about his first rivalry game with the Giants.
“I’ve seen them on TV,” Freeman said. “I’m looking forward to it.”
–Field Level Media