Cody Bellinger and the Los Angeles Dodgers face the rival San Francisco Giants on Sunday. Photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping that a well-rested and inspired rookie pitcher will lead them to success in Sunday's series finale against the San Francisco Giants.
Left-hander Caleb Ferguson will make his third career start, pitching opposite Giants right-hander Chris Stratton, but it will be his first outing where he will get a minute to catch his breath and ease into his surroundings.
Before his major league debut on June 6, and his follow-up effort Tuesday, Ferguson had to scramble to catch a flight and then take the mound for the Dodgers. This time around, Ferguson has done all of his between-start routine with the major league club, and even got a bonus assignment this week.
Ferguson was able to get an up-close-and-personal look at Clayton Kershaw's most recent rehab bullpen session. It was a multi-pronged effort to not only let Ferguson watch a pitcher he looks up to, but to get an in-depth view at one of the hardest workers in the game.
"Even for Caleb to sit in on Clayton's pen (Friday) and to sit in on Rich (Hill's on Saturday) and not have to fly in make a start then fly out and come back in, he will get to assimilate with our guys," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "I think there is a benefit to that."
Ferguson (0-0, 9.53) lasted just 1 2/3 innings of his debut at Pittsburgh and then went four innings Tuesday against the Rangers. He has given up a combined six runs, but the Dodgers offense has scored a combined 21 runs in his two outings so at least he is getting elite run support.
Stratton (7-4, 4.56) has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last four starts, but he is facing a Dodgers lineup that has hit 34 home runs in June alone. The right-hander will have to face a trio of left-handed hitters in Max Muncy, Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson who have been productive of late.
He figures to be up for the challenge after guiding the Giants to a 10-4 record in his starts this season. In his outing Tuesday at Miami, Stratton was just the second Giants pitcher since May 6 to last at least seven innings, but he still took the loss in a 3-1 defeat. It was his sixth quality start of the season.
The Giants are currently 3-6 on a three-city road trip that ends Sunday. And while a return home is ahead, better health could be coming soon, although third baseman Evan Longoria figures to be out at least a month with a fractured left hand.
First baseman Brandon Belt was activated Saturday, while pitchers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija could be back soon.
"Our biggest issue has been trying to stay healthy," manager Bruce Bochy said, according to mlb.com.
Madison Bumgarner made his third start since coming off the disabled list Saturday and allowed three runs on five hits in six innings of a 3-1 loss. It marked the 11th straight time in Los Angeles the Giants scored two runs or less, according to STATS Inc.
Matt Kemp and Enrique Hernandez homered for the Dodgers -- who will go for the series sweep on Sunday -- while Alex Wood allowed a run on four hits in 5 2/3 innings.