NEW YORK — Omaha’s loss Saturday night will be a big win for anyone who likes watching two of the best pitchers in baseball face off against one another.
Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to make a surprising return to the major league rotation Saturday night Vladimir Sobotka Jersey , when the Dodgers visit the New York Mets in the middle game of a three-game series at Citi Field.
The Dodgers won the opener 5-2 on Friday night when Cody Bellinger’s sixth-inning grand slam snapped a scoreless pitcher’s duel between Los Angeles left-hander Alex Wood and Mets right-hander Zack Wheeler.
There will likely be more zeroes on the board Saturday when Kershaw (1-4, 2.76 ERA) may not even be the best pitcher to take the Citi Field mound. The Hall of Fame-bound southpaw, who hasn’t pitched this month because of a lower back strain, will be opposed by the hottest pitcher in baseball, Mets ace Jacob deGrom (5-2, 1.51 ERA).
The Mets finally provided deGrom some run support in his most recent start on Monday when he picked up a long-awaited win after allowing two runs (one earned) in eight innings of a 12-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
DeGrom lowered his major league-leading ERA to 1.51 in the win. Since 2000, only Randy Johnson (1.47 ERA in 2000) has produced a lower ERA through 15 starts.
DeGrom has a 0.90 ERA in his last 11 starts, during which he has only gone 3-2 while the Mets have gone 3-8. New York scored 16 runs while deGrom was on the mound in his 10 starts before Monday.
“I watched (Corey) Kluber have about a 1.40 ERA for like 12 or 13 starts at the end of one season to win a Cy Young,” said Mets manager Mickey Callaway, who was the pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians when Kluber locked up the American League Cy Young Award by posting a 1.42 ERA in his final 12 starts last season.
“But this is pretty special. You don’t see this often.”
Nor do matchups like Kershaw-deGrom happen very often. The clash Saturday night will mark their first regular-season matchup and the second time they’ve opposed one another.
DeGrom picked up the win in the decisive Game 5 of the 2015 National League Division Series when he tossed seven scoreless innings in the Mets’ 3-1 win over the Dodgers and Kershaw, who pitched on three days’ rest and took the loss after giving up all three runs in 6 2/3 innings.
Kershaw was originally scheduled to pitch for Triple-A Oklahoma City against Omaha, but with an uncertain weather forecast in Nebraska, the Dodgers decided to take their chances by having him pitch for the big league team in New York, where scattered thunderstorms are expected.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts hinted the famously competitive Kershaw did his share of talking his way out of the rehab start.
“He did play a little weatherman, so with weather.com and Clayton, we were pretty abreast with the weather in Omaha,” Roberts said with a grin Friday afternoon.
Roberts said the Dodgers will proceed carefully with Kershaw Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey , who has made as many trips to the disabled list as to a big league mound since May. Kershaw was sidelined from May 2 through May 30 because of biceps tendinitis.
Kershaw was activated May 31, when he didn’t factor into the decision after pitching through a tight back while allowing one run in five innings of the Dodgers’ 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. Los Angeles placed Kershaw back on the disabled list the next day.
“We don’t know how much he’s going to pitch,” Roberts said. “I don’t want to put a limit on him. Obviously, there is a limitation with Clayton, and I’ll make that decision.”
Both pitchers will have a unique, opponent-specific streak on the line Saturday
DeGrom is 0-3 with a 3.26 ERA in six career regular-season starts against the Dodgers. He has beaten every other team he has faced more than once.
Kershaw is 8-0 with a 1.84 ERA in 12 regular-season starts against the Mets. He is undefeated against eight other teams but has beaten only one of those squads, the Atlanta Braves, more than twice.
Regardless of sport, fantasy players become giddy dreamers when it comes to discussing the potential of rookies.
The expectations are rarely realistic. It’s more fun to imagine Giants running back Saquon Barkley piling up 1,850 yards from scrimmage and 15 touchdowns, or Suns center Deandre Ayton averaging 19 points, 12 rebounds and two blocks than to consider the practical implications of adjusting from dominating in college sports to the pro game.
Several rookies have already had strong fantasy showings this summer in baseball, including Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. and Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler (although Acuna and Buehler are currently on the disabled list). Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows and Braves pitcher Mike Soroka have flashed the potential to emerge as productive stalwarts for years to come.
With most teams using July to either press forward or chart a new course, the next batch of coming attractions will have fantasy baseballers waiting to either luck out on their waiver wire order or go all-in with their remaining FAAB bucks:
Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., 3B Alex Killorn Jersey Kids , Blue Jays: Couldn’t have a list without him, right? He’ll return to action in mid-July after a strained patellar tendon put him on the shelf, but there’s no question he’ll arrive in Toronto at some point. At 19, his bat can still be a difference maker.
Eloy Jimenez, OF, White Sox: Currently in Triple-A, Jimenez has the upside to become a .320 hitter with 40-home run power. The only question is when, not if, he’s called up between now and the end of the season.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Astros: A legit five-tool talent, Tucker has mauled Triple-A pitching over the past two weeks and only needs an opening to appear in the crowded Houston outfield.
Francisco Mejia, C/OF, Indians: Had a brief appearance in the bigs earlier this season and while Yan Gomes has a grip on catching duties in Cleveland, the Indians will find a way to get Mejia’s bat into the lineup once he’s recalled.
Justus Sheffield, P, Yankees: He’ll be up Andrei Vasilevskiy Jersey , even if not with New York, who could use Sheffield as trade bait to add a veteran arm to the rotation before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
Cowboys rookie receiver Michael Gallup is a strong deep sleeper candidate who has a great chance to become a Week 1 starter. Allen Hurns has never been a featured wideout, Terrance Williams has a broken foot and Cole Beasley was a major disappointment last season, making it likely that Gallup, a third-round pick, could seize a prominent role.
Gallup’s value will only rise as more fantasy leagues begin. He’s got late-stage value right now, but if he thrives during the preseason he will be a solid WR3/flex with strong WR2 upside.
A DENVER NUGGET?
Concerns about his back led to Michael Porter, Jr., falling to 14th in last week’s NBA draft, where he was selected by the Nuggets. Whether he can contribute this season remains a question, but if Porter is healthy, fantasy players could see why he’s drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant.
No one in last week’s draft has as much upside as the 6-foot-10 Porter, who could pair with top 10 fantasy talent Nikola Jokic and give the Nuggets another big man who can fill up the stat sheet on a nightly basis.
This column was provided to The Associated Press by the Fantasy Sports Network,