Series Preview #46: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Ladies... - Jamie Sabau

Tonight, on a very special episode of Series Previews...

If the 2013 Dodgers win the World Series, they will be the sort of team that people will write books about. I don't mean that metaphorically. The next generation's Bill Plaschke is going to make his fortune by writing a BezosScript (don't laugh, it's what we'll call them) about the 2013 Dodgers.

It will include the phrase "Team of Destiny" a couple hundred times. Two chapters will be devoted to the brawl, and both of them will refer to it as a "turning point" that "lit a fire under a sleeping giant." The Diamondbacks, who will be referred to only to set the stakes for the Dodgers, will be called "on the wrong side of destiny" several times to end several different chapters.

These are the stakes, ensuring that this book is never written. Assuming that the Diamondbacks don't make good on the 0.7% chance to make the playoffs, this is going to be their shot to unseat the Dodgers championship train. It almost certainly won't matter, but the Dodgers have gone 53-17 since June 21. I wouldn't be against putting at least a little bit of doubt in their minds before the playoffs begin.

Or we could just put our faith in the Braves or Pirates to not blow up in the playoffs. History suggests this is not the best plan.

What the Stats Say (Courtesy of Fangraphs):


Arizona
(72-70)
Los Angeles
(83-59)
Edge
Hitting (wRC+): 92 104 Los Angeles
Pitching (ERA-/FIP-):
97/101 90/95 Los Angeles
Fielding (UZR):
43.2 16.6

Arizona


It's not worth mentioning that the Dodgers have been the best team in baseball over their past 70 games, since you already know this. It's that they've been so good over the past 70 games that they've become an elite team overall just on the basis of those 70 games.

They've outscored opponents by well over 100 runs since that streak began, and they fit the offensive and defensive profile of a great team, even though they've only been a great team for right around half of their season. You can use that to scream "OVERRATED" if you want, but it really underscores just how good these 70 games have been.

Starting Lineups:

Arizona Diamondbacks

1. Adam Eaton, LF
2. A.J. Pollock, CF
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. Aaron Hill, 2B
5. Martin Prado, 3B
6. Gerardo Parra, RF
7. Miguel Montero, C
8. Didi Gregorius, SS

Los Angeles Dodgers

1. Carl Crawford, LF
2. Yasiel Puig, RF
3. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
4. Hanley Ramriez, SS
5. Andre Ethier, CF
6. Juan Uribe, 3B
7. Mark Ellis, 2B
8. A.J. Ellis, C

If you ignore what happened in Boston for a year and a half, Crawford's career arc makes perfect sense. Guy comes up, improves until around 28 or so, and slowly declines after that while still being a useful player through his early 30s. Again, nothing that happened in Boston while Crawford was there makes any sense, so why should we assume that his time there would be the exception?

UZR thinks that Andre Ethier has been essentially average in Center Field this year. Considering how bad he's looked as a corner outfielder, I can't help but be skeptical of that.

Yasiel Puig hasn't gotten the same amount of hype since he completed The Best First Month In Baseball History, which is sorta a shame since he's still hit .305/.381/.493 since the start of July. It's not as flashy as hitting .400 for a month, but I'd argue the sustained success is more impressive. Jose Fernandez has a strong claim, but I think Rookie of the Year is going to the other Cuban.

The fact that Uribe was the starting 3B for a team that spends money like Dubai was fairly amusing to begin the season. It's somewhat less amusing since he posted his first OPS+ over 100, but what are you going to do?

Pitching Matchups:

Monday: Randall Delgado (4-5, 3.69) vs. Ricky Nolasco (7-1, 2.27)

Insightful Commentary: I tend to be somewhat harsh on Delgado because of the home run thing, and while that's still a pressing issue, I think it's time for some good news. Delgado went into this season having allowed a K/9 higher than 4 at any level since 2011 in Double-A. But his time in Arizona has seen him more than half his walk rate, which is the main reason he's become a viable starter. If this is the real deal, this would probably Nagy's most impressive transformation yet.

You get the sense that Nolasco might have wanted to get out of Miami a little. Given that his ERA since coming to Los Angeles is a full run under his FIP, there's no real reason to expect his success to continue. Still, given what the fifth spot in the Dodgers' rotation looked like before he got there, he's more than merited the terms of the trade so far.

Tuesday: Trevor Cahill (6-10, 4.35) vs. Edinson Volquez (0-1, 7.20)

Insightful Commentary: Cahill has played the Giants twice since last weekend, and twice he looked pretty uninspired. He has more walks than strikeouts in the 11.1 total innings, and he gave up 15 during that time. Luckily, the Giants' offense has been in a diabetic coma since July and didn't really take advantage. That will not be the case against LA.

The mega-rich in this country tend to have a proclivity toward eccentric purchases, with the seeming motivation of "eh, why not?" There's no reason for the Dodgers to take a chance on Edinson Volquez, who has walked the bases loaded in the time it has taken you to read this commentary. But hey, he was pretty good in 2008, so eh, why not?

Wednesday: Patrick Corbin (13-6, 2.97) vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu (13-5, 3.02)

Insightful Commentary: Yusmeiro Petit ruined things for everyone in Corbin's last start, but lost in all that was the fact that Corbin looked quite a bit better than in his last two starts before that. The hits were still more prevalent than any of us were hoping for, but three runs in eight innings is fine every time. I wouldn't be against seeing them shut him down if they think he's fatigued, but this team is more fun to watch when Patrick Corbin takes the mound every fifth day.

And speaking of talented young pitchers, Ryu would probably win Rookie of the Year in certain other years. But it's 2013 and Ryu will just have to settle for quietly being the Dodgers' second-best pitcher. His strikeouts dipped a bit in the middle of the year, but he's still keeping his walks down and dominating right-handers.

Dodgers Blog: True Blue LA

(All stats from Fangraphs or Baseball-Reference unless otherwise indicated.)

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