Series Preview #24, @ Los Angeles Dodgers

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After a largely disappointing pair of series against Houston, Arizona heads back west to wrap up their road trip against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

What's New?

After splitting their series at home against the Astros, Arizona looked to wrap up their home-and-home series strong in Houston. However, they fell in disappointing fashion, getting swept in consecutive games by the team with the third-worst record in baseball. On Wednesday night, the Diamondbacks were undone by a strong performance from Houston starter Dallas Keuchel, who gave up a run on four hits over eight innings in the 5-1 Houston victory. On Thursday night, Arizona managed to fight back from a 4-1 deficit with a ninth inning Miguel Montero homer, only to have it undone after Chris Carter hit a walk-off home run off of J.J. Putz in the tenth inning for the 5-4 Houston win.

Arizona is not 13th in the majors in runs scored (279), averaging 4.10 runs per game and batting .256 as a team while getting on base a solid 31% of the time. Their offensive production dips a bit while on the road, batting .250 as a team and getting on base at a lower rate. Their pitching staff is no longer the leagues worst, but they still have the third-worst ERA in the majors (4.42) and yielding a .267 batting average to hitters. They're a better team overall on the road, a major reason being that their pitching staff actually performs at the major league average when outside of Chase Field, posting a 4.24 team ERA that is good for 21st in the majors. After dropping two games in Houston, Arizona is now 29-39 overall on the season, 15 games behind San Francisco for first place in the NL West. They head to Los Angeles with a road record of 17-16 this season.

Los Angeles has performed well at the plate this season, scoring the eighth-most runs in baseball (286) and scoring 4.27 runs per game, posting a strong on-base percentage of .324. However, the Dodgers have struggled at home this season, with their batting average dropping to .242 and being the 21st ranked offense in the majors when playing at the pitcher's park in Dodger Stadium. Despite their offensive prowess, it is known leaguewide that the Dodgers' best trait is their pitching staff, posting the sixth-best ERA in the majors (3.40), holding batters to a .249 batting average and posting 40 quality starts. They're surprisingly worse when outside of the cavernous Dodger Stadium, as their ERA rises to 3.53.

The Dodgers are returning home after a 4-3 road trip that saw them win a series in Colorado and split against the Reds. The series in Arizona starts a six-game home stand, and they're looking to get rid of their two-game losing streak. They've split their last ten games overall, and are in second place at 35-33, 8.5 games behind San Francisco in the NL West. They are struggling at Dodger Stadium this season, posting a 13-19 record.

On The Mend

According to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times, Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis is expected to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday after spraining his right ankle in celebrating teammate Josh Beckett's no-hitter.

Los Angeles shortstop Hanley Ramirez received a cortisone shot Wednesday night, making him unavailable to start in Friday night's game, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. He is currently listed as day-to-day.

Roster Moves

Arizona officially optioned right hander Trevor Cahill to Single-A Visalia on Thursday. According to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic, Cahill is expected to have a 50-pitch and three inning limit in his start, and expected to join Triple-A Reno for his next start. Cahill was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks earlier this week.

Arizona claimed catcher Jordan Pacheco outright off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies Thursday, who was designated for assignment earlier this week. Pacheco batted .236 through 22 games this season for Colorado, and is expected to be the third-string catcher behind Miguel Montero and Tuffy Gosewich. To make room for Pacheco, the Diamondbacks designated Nick Evans for assignment.

Man Bear Puig

Love him or hate him, Major League Baseball knows Yasiel Puig's name. And boy, he has been productive.

Puig has been credited with being the spark the jumpstarted the Dodgers last season, driving them to an NL West title after being called up in May. However, he may be even better this season than he was last year. In 104 games last season, Puig batted .319/.391/.534 with 19 home runs and 42 RBIs, posting a 5.0 WAR (wins above replacement). Through 60 games this season, Puig is above his 2013 totals in all his splits (.329/.423/.575) with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs, already posting a WAR of 2.8.

So love him. Hate him. Criticize his playing style and off-field antics, but you must give credit where credit is due, and Yasiel Puig has established himself as one of the best young players in baseball, and he appears to be here to stay.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 7:10 PT: RHP Chase Anderson (5-0, 3.14 ERA, 4.55 FIP) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (5-2, 3.17 ERA, 1.95 FIP)

Anderson is the first pitcher in franchise history to win his first five career starts, pitching well but also benefitting largely  y great run support. He was stellar in his last start, giving up two runs on five hits over seven innings in a win over the Atlanta Braves. Kershaw won a rain-shortened complete game against Colorado in his last start, giving up one run on three hits in five innings, striking out nine batters without walking a single batter in the win. He has struck out at least nine batters in each of his last four starts.

Game 2, Saturday 7:10 PT: RHP Josh Collmenter (4-3, 3.65 ERA, 4.18 FIP) vs. RHP Dan Haren (6-4, 3.49 ERA, 4.08 FIP)

Collmenter saw his four-game winning streak come to an end in his last start, giving up four runs (three earned) over seven innings in picking up a 4-3 loss against the Astros on Monday. Collmenter has walked two batters or less in each of his last ten starts. Haren pitched well in his last start, giving up two runs on five hits in 5.1 innings in picking up his first win since May 12th. He's 4-2 with a 3.60 ERA over six career appearances (five starts) against Arizona.

Game 3, Sunday 1:10 PT: RHP Bronson Arroyo (6-4, 4.22 ERA, 4.33 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Beckett (4-3, 2.35 ERA, 4.10 FIP)

Arroyo was perhaps the lone bright spot over Arizona's four-game stretch against Houston, giving up a run on six hits over seven innings while picking up the 4-1 win. He has gone at least six innings in each of his last nine starts. Beckett was strong in his last start, throwing six shutout innings and giving up two hits in a win against the Reds, striking out seven batters. He is 2-5 with a 3.59 ERA in his ten career starts against the Diamondbacks.

Series Pick'em

Boy, it's difficult to be optimistic, besides the point that Los Angeles is a much worse team at home. Even though Kershaw was lit up in his last start against Arizona, I see him ending Chase Anderson's winning streak and giving the Dodgers a victory. Haren has had decent success this season, as has Collmenter, so I'll give Arizona Saturday's matchup. As well as Arroyo has been of late, Beckett has been even better after rediscovering his dominance behind his great curveball. I say Arizona takes one of three to finish the road trip 1-4.

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