Manny Machado has struggled since returning from left knee surgery and Orioles manager Buck Showalter has dropped him to seventh in the order for tonight’s game against the Astros.
Machado has functioned exclusively as Baltimore’s No. 2 hitter since he was activated on May 1, but he’s batting just .224/.280/.296 over his first 25 games. While the 21-year-old has hit safely in 10 out of his last 11 games, he hasn’t shown much in the way of power and his patience is still a work in progress. This is his first start in the lower-third of the batting order since he was first called up late in 2012, but he surely won’t stick there for long if his production begins to pick up.
The Orioles are going with Steve Pearce as their No. 2 hitter tonight against right-hander Brad Peacock.
Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.
In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.
The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.
The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.