Marlins rookie Richards starts against Dodgers’ Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Trevor Richards‘ first-ever trip to California will end late Wednesday, but not before he has an experience he never will forget.

In his fifth career start, Richards will take the mound for the Miami Marlins in an early evening contest at Dodger Stadium and square off against Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw. Richards won’t have any time to be in awe.

So how will he handle his first-ever matchup with a future Hall of Famer?

“Kershaw’s not that good of a hitter,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly joked. “You say he’s facing Kershaw, but he’s really not. You’re facing yourself. Can you execute your pitches and what you want to do? The battle is with you.”

Richards has yet to win a game, going 0-2 in his four starts with a 6.16 ERA. He gave up six runs (five earned) on five hits and six walks in 3 2/3 innings in an 8-0 loss to Milwaukee in his most recent start on Friday.

His rise to the Marlins has been quick, having pitched in independent baseball just two years ago.

The Richards story bears a sharp contrast to the one for Kershaw, a former first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2006, who was in the major leagues 23 months later.

The left-hander enters Wednesday’s start just 1-3, but does have a 2.45 ERA. The Dodgers are just 2-3 in his five starts, but that has more to do with a lack of run support. The Dodgers have scored just 13 runs on days that Kershaw has pitched (2.6 per game).

Kershaw is 5-4 with a 2.57 ERA in 10 career starts against the Marlins, but he has not faced them since 2016, when he lost both his starts against Miami.

The Marlins entered Tuesday’s game at Los Angeles on a five-game losing streak and losers of eight of their last nine, but they have given the Dodgers fits in the first two games of the current three-game series. On Tuesday they ended that losing streak with a 3-2 victory.

The Dodgers pushed across an eighth-inning run Monday for a 2-1 victory.

The Marlins are now 6-17 but they have stayed competitive. Their last three defeats have been by a combined margin of four runs, and 11 of their 23 games this season have been decided by three runs or less.

The Dodgers seemed to have found their stride before falling Tuesday. They won seven of their previous eight games before the Marlins got them. After a slow start, they have made up ground, but they are still five games behind first-place Arizona in the NL West.

“I think we’re in a good spot right now, honestly,” Dodgers leadoff man Chris Taylor said this week, according to the Orange County Register.

A good spot is having Kershaw on the mound looking to close out a series victory against a rookie pitcher.