Dodgers Face Cubs After Opening Spring Training Play With Loss to Brewers

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Non-roster left-hander Robbie Erlin will be the Los Angeles Dodgers' starting pitcher when they face the Chicago Cubs Sunday in their spring training home opener at their Camelback Ranch facility in Glendale, Arizona.

Erlin made two relief appearances with the Dodgers in 2022 with a 9.00 ERA after signing as a free agent on Feb. 14, 2022. He was 5-4 with a 5.56 ERA in 21 appearances, including 14 starts, with the Dodgers' Triple-A Oklahoma City affiliate.

The 32-year-old Erlin has a 13-20 record and 4.87 ERA in eight seasons with four major league teams -- the San Diego Padres, Pittsburgh Pirates, Atlanta Braves and Dodgers.

Left-hander Justin Steele will start for Chicago. Steele was 4-7 with a 3.18 ERA with the Cubs in 2022, including allowing two runs and three hits in four innings and being charged with the loss in a 7-1 loss to the Dodgers May 8 in Wrigley Field.

The 12:05 p.m. game will be televised by SportsNet LA.

The Dodgers opened spring training play Saturday with a 7-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in Phoenix, with Freddie Freeman hitting a two-run homer in the third inning.

The Dodgers combined singles by Yonny Hernandez and Bradley Zimmer, an RBI ground out by Jonny DeLuca and a run-scoring single by Andy Pages for two runs in seventh off right-hander Justin Yeager, a non-roster player acquired in December from Atlanta as part of the three-team trade that also sent all-star catcher William Contreras from Atlanta to Milwaukee.

Garrett Mitchell hit a two-run homer in the third off Dodgers left- hander Justin Bruihl and a two-run homer in the fifth off non-roster right- hander Jordan Yamamoto. Rowdy Tellez hit a solo homer in the first off Dodgers starter Michael Grove.

Bruihl, the third of eight Dodgers pitchers who each pitched one inning, was charged with the loss, allowing two runs and two hits in one inning.

Elvis Peguero, the third of nine Brewers pitchers who each pitched one inning, was credited with the victory, despite allowing Freeman's home run. Peguero, who pitched for the Los Angeles Angels from 2021-22, allowed two hits and two runs and issued one walk in his inning.

Rookie right-hander Matt Hardy pitched a perfect ninth inning for the save, striking out the first two batters he faced.

The game was the first for both teams played against an opponent under the biggest set of rule changes in baseball history.

Major League Baseball has added a pitch timer, put restrictions on defensive shifts and expanded bases in an attempt to improve pace of play, reduce dead time, encourage more balls in play, give players more opportunities to showcase their athleticism and reduce injuries.

Pitchers will have up to 15 seconds between pitches when the bases are empty and up to 20 seconds between pitches with at least one runner on base. A pitcher must begin his motion before the expiration of the timer. A violation will result in a ball being called.

A pitcher may "disengage the rubber," including to attempt a pickoff throw, twice per plate appearance without penalty. Subsequent disengagements result in a balk, unless an out is recorded on a runner.

The pitch timer resets following a disengagement. The disengagement count resets if the runner advances.

A hitter must be in the batter's box and alert to the pitcher with at least eight seconds remaining on the pitch timer.

A hitter receives one timeout per plate appearance.

Umpires will have authority to provide additional time if warranted by special circumstances, such as a catcher making the last out of the inning and needing additional time to get into defensive position.

The pitch timer was used in minor league baseball last season, with the average time of a nine-inning game reduced 26 minutes from three hours, four minutes in 2021 to two hours, 38 minutes in 2022, according to MLB.

Stolen base attempts per game increased from 2.23 in 2019, at a 68% success rate, to 2.83 in 2022, at a 77% success rate.

Two infielders must be positioned on each side of second base when the pitch is released, all four infielders must have both feet within the outer boundary of the infield when the pitcher is on the rubber and infielders may not switch sides unless there is a substitution.

The size of first, second and third base will increase from the standard 15-inch square to 18-inch square. Larger bases reduced base-related injuries by 13.5% in minor league baseball in 2022 from 2021.

Bigger bases will reduce the distance between first and second and between second and third base by 4 1/2 inches, encouraging teams to attempt to steal bases more frequently and generally be more aggressive on the basepaths.

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