With Jose Fernandez Looming on Sunday, Los Angeles Dodgers Must Win Saturday to Avoid Sweep in Miami

Los Angeles Dodgers Paul Maholm
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It may be up to Paul Maholm on Saturday to salvage the weekend for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The lefty will try to slow down the suddenly streaking Miami Marlins, who have won four straight and are hitting .355 as a team during that stretch. Marlins ace Jose Fernandez will start on Sunday afternoon, so this may be the Dodgers’ only chance to escape South Beach with a win.

Fernandez’ dominance is no longer a surprise to baseball fans, but the 20 year old Cuban’s recent stretch will raise anyone’s eyebrows. In his last 23 innings pitched, he’s given up 0 earned runs and struck out 32 while only walking two. The hard throwing right-hander scattered 9 hits over his last three starts, which came against the NL East leading Atlanta Braves twice.

The Dodgers will presumably counter with AAA call-up Stephen Fife, after they placed Hyun-Jin Ryu on the 15 day DL. Not quite the top-tiered pitching talent you want to put out there against Fernandez. And with the way Fernandez is dealing, the Dodgers may just want to take an early flight to DC and prepare for the Washington Nationals.

All the more reason for the Dodgers to make sure they take care of business on Saturday. Fresh off a sweep of the Minnesota Twins, the Dodgers looked like they were hitting a little groove, only to take a step back in a poorly played game on Friday night. The Dodgers wasted a strong effort by Josh Beckett and once again had defensive issues — a weakness that has plagued this team since Opening Day.

For Maholm, here’s a chance for him to try and stay on the Major League roster a little longer. Maholm was probably the odd man out of the rotation with the return of Clayton Kershaw, but now with Ryu on the shelf for a couple weeks at least, Maholm has another opportunity to prove his worth. Maholm is coming off his best start of the season against the Colorado Rockies, tossing 84 pitches over seven innings and allowing only two runs. And with the way the Marlins are swinging the lumber, the Dodgers will need his best.