Last night, the Dodgers’ six-run first obscured the return of a quartet of Yankees, despite Josh Donaldson and Giancarlo Stanton’s best efforts. The two sluggers, out since April 5th and 15th, respectively, combined for three homers in just eight trips to the plate. Tommy Kahnle, meanwhile, made his long-awaited return to the Yankees bullpen after a detour in Los Angeles, firing a scoreless inning against his former team. Anthony Rizzo looked rusty after a few days off to rest a stiff neck, but his return bodes well for the Bombers nonetheless in a more favorable pitching matchup tonight.
Missing a star-studded matchup against Clayton Kershaw by one day, Yankees ace Gerrit Cole will take the mound tonight against the unproven Michael Grove. The revival of Cole’s homer-prone bugaboo continued in his last time out against the Padres, as he yielded two dingers. At the same time, he also notched nine K’s, his most since April 16th against the Twins and perhaps a sign that he’s returning to his dominant early-season form.
On the other hand, not unlike many Yankees, Grove is returning from an injury himself. His previous major-league appearance came back on April 20, when a groin issue first popped up. In his four starts this year prior to going down, Grove pitched to a ghastly 8.44 ERA; his peripherals painted him as more of a mid-4s guy, and he notched 14 K’s against just one walk and two runs between his two rehab appearances, but he’s certainly no Kershaw.
Grove is primarily a north-to-south pitcher, attacking with high four-seamers early in the count and low sliders and curves to put hitters away. Without another platoon-neutral offering in addition to his four-seamer, the right-hander has struggled to retire lefties: in his career, they’ve amassed a .382 wOBA while righties have put up just a .315 mark. It’s a prime opportunity for Rizzo to regain his footing — he’ll hit third and take his usual spot in the field at first.
Elsewhere, Jake Bauers will get the nod in left field, his lefty bat coming up sixth. He survived the Yankees’ latest cuts as they welcomed back their injured stars, but opposite-handed options remain low otherwise; the rest of the Yankees’ hitters tonight will be swinging from the right side. While Stanton will get a rest and Donaldson will get the half-day off at DH, that precludes lefty Willie Calhoun from taking that spot. JD will clean up.
DJ LeMahieu will take Donaldson’s spot in the field at third and move from cleanup to fifth; his playing time will be interesting to keep an eye on in light of his recent struggles and Stanton and Donaldson’s returns. Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge will comprise the Yankees’ usual one-two punch atop the order, and Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Jose Trevino, and Anthony Volpe will round things out at the bottom of the lineup. Volpe, whose quest to move on from a putrid May got off to a rough 0-4 start last night, is hitting ninth for just the third time since April 15. Hopefully, the lower-pressure situations there will get him going. Also of note: Oswaldo Cabrera is on the bench and already back with the Yanks with Greg Allen on the IL.
As for Cole, he’ll face a Dodgers offense ranking third in the majors in wRC+ fresh off last night’s eight-run eruption. Their lineup is absent many of their recent stars, who’ve departed via free agency, but Mookie Betts remains a steady presence at the top, where he’ll be tonight. He’ll play second base. Freddie Freeman, who had his 20-game hit-streak snapped last night despite notching exit velocities north of 97 mph in four of his five at-bats, will hit second and play first. Will Smith, the league’s preeminent offensive threat at the catcher position, will hit third and call the pitches for Grove. Max Muncy, tied with Judge for the second-most homers in the majors, will clean things up. He represents the biggest threat to Cole holding the Dodgers homer-less.
How to watch
Location: Dodger Stadium — Los Angeles, CA
First pitch: 7:15 pm ET
TV broadcast: FOX
Radio broadcast: WFAN 660/101.9 FM, WADO 1280
Online stream: MLB.tv