Clayton Kershaw is making it look too easy, even by his lofty standards – so much so that the three-time National League Cy Young Award winner could be well within his right to make room on his trophy case for some additional hardware. The owner of a 9-0 record over his last 10 outings, Kershaw looks to bolster his case as the league’s best pitcher on Sunday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers continue their four-game series versus the host Pittsburgh Pirates.
While Kershaw’s lone blemish of the season came exactly two months ago to Miami, Los Angeles has dropped two in a row to begin this series after posting six straight victories. The mercurial Yasiel Puig registered his third straight two-hit performance in Saturday’s 6-1 setback against Pittsburgh, which has shown some pop at the plate in this set after losing 13 of its previous 15 games. Andrew McCutchen, who recorded his 11th career multi-homer effort and drove in four runs on Saturday, is 9-for-24 with a blast and four RBIs versus Kershaw. Jordy Mercer also went deep on Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 10 games.
TV: 8:08 p.m. ET, ESPN
Dodgers – RF A. Ethier (15-Day DL, shin).
Pirates – RF G. Polanco (Questionable Sunday, leg), C F. Cervelli (15-Day DL, hand).
WEATHER REPORT: Partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the mid-80’s will be on the menu for Sunday evening in Pittsburgh. There may be some weather moving in later in the game as the probability of precipitation increases from 5 percent early in the evening to 40 percent by 11:00 PM. There will be a 5-10 mph breeze blowing in from right field, so there likely won’t be any balls splashing into the Allegheny River tonight.
HOT FAN BATTLE:
PITCHING MATCHUP: Dodgers LH Clayton Kershaw (11-1, 1.57 ERA) vs. Pirates RH Chad Kuhl (NR)
Originally slated to pitch against fellow superstar Stephen Strasburg, Kershaw posted his fourth victory in as many starts on Monday as he allowed one run and six hits while striking out eight in a 4-1 win over Washington. The 28-year-old’s dominant performance, during which he did not walk a batter for the eighth time in 15 starts, lowered his minuscule ERA by just 0.01. For all of his success, Kershaw has split four career decisions versus Pittsburgh – including a three-run effort in seven innings to take the loss in his most recent encounter.
With struggling right-hander Juan Nicasio demoted to the bullpen, Kuhl is expected to be recalled from Triple-A Indianapolis to make his major-league debut. The 23-year-old, who joined the team on Friday, has posted a 6-2 mark with a 2.58 ERA in 14 starts with the Indians and has struck out 59 batters over 76 2/3 innings. The University of Delaware star, who was selected in the ninth round of the 2013 amateur draft, has compiled a 33-16 record and 2.79 ERA in 81 starts over four seasons in the minors.
* Dodgers are 6-1 in their last 7 games vs. a right-handed starter.
* Dodgers are 14-1 in Kershaw’s 15 starts this season.
* Pirates are 0-8 in their last 8 during game 3 of a series.
* Under is 5-0-1 in Kershaw’s last 6 road starts.
* Under is 5-1 in Pirates last 6 games vs. a left-handed starter.
* Dodgers are 3-13 in the last 16 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Covers public is eating the chalk and backing Kershaw and the Dodgers at a rate of 73 percent for tonight’s game. The Over 6.5 is also picking up plenty of action with 63 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.