- Gerardo Parra, CF
- Aaron Hill, 2B
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
- Eric Chavez, 3B
- Martin Prado, LF
- Miguel Montero, C
- Jason Kubel, RF
- Didi Gregorius, SS
- Randall Delgado, P
Those may seem like fighting words, considering that, since bottoming out at 12 games below .500 on June 21, the Dodgers have gone 12-3. However, that was against the Padres, Giants, Phillies and Rockies, whose combined record is 24 games below .500, with a run differential of -136. You might find this hard to believe, but they actually lost a game to Colorado, which as this weekend's series showed, is pretty hard to do. Their schedule is about to get considerably harder, so we'll see whether the new, improved Dodgers are actually improved, or just an illusion caused by calendar patsies.
This series does remain important, of course, and it would be very nice to take two out of three, if only to shut up certain members of the media. They seem convinced that Los Angeles just needs to show up at Chase Field tonight, as they continue their procession to the National League West title. Never mind the fact that we're 7-2 against Los Angeles already this season, and the record improved to 17-4 if you go back about a year, to the start of July 2012. Because that was then, and now the Dodgers have the unstoppable force which is St. Yasiel of the Pigpen and his BABIP of Invulnerability.
That won't matter, if we pitch as well as we have the last cycle round the rotation. In five games, Arizona has allowed nine runs in 51 innings, for a 1.59 ERA. Our starters have allowed six runs in 38 innings (1.42 ERA), pitching seven or more frames every time, and with a combined K:BB ratio of 37:5. Admittedly, the Dodgers will get the back end of our rotation - yeah, who'd have thought Ian Kennedy would have the worst ERA of anyone to have started for the D-backs so far this season, yet we would still be in first place. However, the way Delgado and Tyler Skaggs pitched last time, I'm not dreading the replacement pitcher experience, as I might have in previous years.
The excellent starts over the weekend should mean we have an almost fully-rested bullpen, who saw a total of three innings of work, pitched by J.J. Putz, Charlie Brewer and Josh Collmenter respectively, during the series against Colorado. Everyone else got to put their feet up and recharge, following a stressful road-trip, and that should mean normal service has been resumed. However, I'd be perfectly happy for Delgado to give us another seven innings - not because he has to, this time, simply because he's pitching well enough that there's no need for Kirk Gibson to take him out of the game.
Victory tonight would put us 5 1/2 games up in the West, dropping not just a speed-bump, more like a spike strip, in the way of the Dodgers' procession. Psychologically, it would be a great reminder that, hello, the D-backs are still here, still in first place, and have absolutely no intention of following the script and rolling over for LA.