Series Preview #14, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

After a series of late-game struggles, the Diamondbacks try to regroup and finish off their six-game home stand strong against their NL West rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What's New?

After splitting the first two games against the Washington Nationals, the Diamondbacks entered Wednesday's matchup with a chance to win their fourth consecutive series, a once unimaginable feat following the team's franchise-worst April. However, despite a strong performance by starter Brandon McCarthy (one run on two hits in eight IP), the Diamondbacks collapsed in the ninth inning, falling 5-1. This bullpen implosion came just two days after the Diamondbacks surrendered a 4-3 lead in the ninth inning before falling 5-4 to open the series. While their starting pitching was stellar in the series (including Bronson Arroyo's complete game on Tuesday night), the bullpen proved itself to be an issue as the Diamondbacks dropped two of the three games at home. The Diamondbacks are now 5-5 in their last ten games and currently are a league-worst 4-17 at home this season.

The Diamondbacks' bullpen struggles of late have appeared to be just oddities from the norm, as despite the overall pitching staff's struggles this season the bullpen has been the 13th best in the majors this season with a 3.74 ERA, holding batters to a .234 average. As a whole, the Diamondbacks pitching staff has been the worst in the majors at home this season, posting a 5.17 ERA at Chase Field. Arizona now sits a 16-27 on the season, 11 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West.

It has not been the Hollywood start that the Dodgers have imagined thus far in 2014. Injury (most notably to left hander Clayton Kershaw) as well as a crowded NL West has Los Angeles mired in third place. Despite their win-loss record, the Dodgers are amongst the league leaders in team batting (eighth in runs scored) and pitching (seventh in ERA), and while the offense suffers a slight drop off outside of Dodger Stadium (a shocker, considering its pitcher's park status), the picking staff is even better on the road with a 3.06 ERA.

The Dodgers come to Arizona to kick off a nine-game road trip that also features visits to New York to play the Mets and to Philadelphia. Los Angeles is coming off a 13-3 loss to Miami on Wednesday night to cap off a series that saw them take two out of three games from the Marlins. They are currently 22-19 on the season, four games behind San Francisco in the NL West. The Dodgers have won just four of their last ten, and are actually a better team on the road (13-7) than at home (9-12).

On The Mend

Diamondbacks right hander J.J. Putz played catch on Tuesday for the first time since landing on the disabled list, according to Fox Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder.

Magruder also reported that Arizona left fielder Mark Trumbo is scheduled for another CT scan on his left foot Friday.

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said Wednesday that left hander Hyun-Jin Ryu will likely be be throwing in a simulated game as the next step in his rehab. No rehab start is scheduled yet.

Roster Moves

The Dodgers activated catcher A.J. Ellis from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesay; in a resulting move, they optioned Miguel Olivo to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Goldschmidt Happens

The Diamondbacks have struggled to say the least, and the stellar performances of stars such as Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and Chicago's Jose Abreu have more than dominated baseball's headlines, but "America's First Baseman" Paul Goldschmidt has quietly been having yet another great all-around season.

Despite being without lineup mate Mark Trumbo for essentially all of May, Goldschmidt has been hitting .326/.380/.609 for the month, and has been a constant force for a lineup that has seen its share of tweaks by Kirk Gibson. "Goldy" is also hitting .273 with runners in scoring position this season, and leads the Diamondbacks with 26 RBIs this season. He has also been vital with his ability to come through in close games, as his go-ahead double on Tuesday gave Arizona the lead for good in a 3-1 victory.

The star first baseman is hitting at nearly the same levels as he was last season, when he finished second to Pirates center fielder in the National League MVP voting. He hit .302/.401/.551 last season (.324/.371/.541 this season), and his seven home runs have him right on the path to 36 homers his hit last season. No matter what happens this season, at least D-Backs fans still have the hope that stems from Goldschmidt and the future.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 6:40 PM PT: RHP Zack Greinke (6-1, 2.38 ERA, 3.40 FIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (3-3, 4.82 ERA, 4.33 FIP)

Grienke is coming off a great outing against the Giants, striking out eight batters while giving up just two runs in seven innings to pick up the win. He's reached at least the fifth inning in each outing except for one, and has given up two earned runs or less every time that he has been on the mound in 2014. He is 1-0 in two career starts in Arizona, striking out more than a batter per inning (16 Ks in 11.1 IP). Miley is coming off of his first win since early April in his last outing, giving up two runs in seven innings in the win. Miley has been the workhorse of the Diamondbacks rotation, going at least five innings in every start this season. The left hander is 3-3 with a 3.96 ERA in his career, and is facing the Dodgers for the third time this season.

Game 2, Saturday 5:10 PM PT: LHP Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 1.74 ERA, 1.45 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (1-2, 3.89 ERA, 4.51 FIP)

Kershaw is making just his fourth start of the season after his outing on Opening Day forced him to go on the disabled list with neck problems. He gave up three runs in seven innings in a no decision in his last start against the Giants. Kershaw threw 6.2 innings of one-run ball to pick up the victory in his only other start against Arizona this season. Collmenter was forced to battle his way through five innings, giving up four runs on four hits and picking up a no decision. He's been solid as of late, going 1-2 with a 4.28 ERA in his last six starts.

Game 3, Sunday 1:10 PT: RHP Dan Haren (5-1, 2.84 ERA, 2.96 FIP) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 3.85 FIP)

Haren has been a pleasant surprise in Los Angeles after an injury-marred season in 2013 with the Nationals, and has gone at least 5.2 innings in every start this season. Haren is 2-0 and has given up 5 runs in thirteen innings in two starts against Arizona this season. Anderson gave one run on two hits in 5.1 innings in his major league debut against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, picking up six strikeouts. The rookie right hander will make his second career major league start, which also happens to be his first ever at Chase Field. Anderson appears to have earned himself a couple more starts as manager Kirk Gibson is looking to solidify the spot in the rotation previously occupied by right hander Mike Bolsinger.

Series Pick'em

The pitching matchups are far out of favor for the Diamondbacks in this series, as they catch Greinke, Kershaw, and Haren in their turns in the rotation. I think Arizona's best shot at a win in this series is in the opener, as great exposure and a solid outing by Wade Miley makes it less more likely to sneak out with just one win on the series. The odds are high at a sweep, but I feel that Arizona starts the home turnaround with a win to open the series and that the Diamondbakcs drop the series by taking just one out of three games.

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