The Los Angeles Dodgers are hot on the heels of the Colorado Rockies in the National League West and right behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild card. Winners of five straight division titles, Los Angeles will look to make up ground in both races when they send Clayton Kershaw to the mound for Thursday's opener of a huge four-game series in St. Louis.
The Dodgers have split the first six contests on their 10-game trek after avoiding a series and season sweep with an 8-1 rout at last-place Cincinnati on Wednesday afternoon. Kershaw is unbeaten in his last eight starts, posting a 4-0 record in that span and not allowing more than two earned runs in any outing, but he is only 2-3 with a 3.68 ERA in seven career starts at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals had a three-game winning streak halted with a 4-3 loss versus Pittsburgh on Wednesday but they enter the showdown with Los Angeles just over three weeks removed from posting a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium. Rookie Austin Gomber certainly doesn't have the pedigree of three-time Cy Young Award winner Kershaw, but he is unbeaten since joining the starting rotation and has allowed nine runs in his last six outings.
Kershaw registered his 12th consecutive quality start at Colorado on Friday, picking up the victory with seven strikeouts in six innings of two-run ball. He has surrendered two earned runs or fewer in 15 of his last 16 starts and allowed more than three earned runs just once all season. Kershaw has not faced the Cardinals this season but he has held their collective roster to a .213 batting average.
Gomber spent June and July pitching primarily out of the bullpen, making just one start in that span, but he is 4-0 over his last six turns after allowing three runs and six hits over six innings in a no-decision at Detroit last time out. He faced the Dodgers on Aug. 20 and also did not factor in the decision, permitting two runs over five innings. Gomber has not allowed a home run over his last six starts.