Arizona Diamondbacks (10-11)
@ Los Angeles Dodgers (13-8)
Despite a Jurassic budget, the Dodgers currently have a weakness – pitching. Due to Brandon McCarthy’s torn UCL, only three starting pitchers remain. One of them, Brett Anderson, is not to be feared, leaving only Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. And neither will pitch against the Diamondbacks this series!
And the Dodger closer, Joel Peralta was placed on the DL on 24 April due to a "weak" arm. Joel Peralta was very effective in the last series between these two teams. In two games he gave up zero earned runs while the other Dodger closers gave up 5 earned runs. This series is an opportunity for the Diamondback hitters to shine, both early and late!
The Diamondbacks’ chances are not reduced by playing this series in Los Angeles for two reasons – starting pitchers and slugging percentage. This season, the Diamondback starting pitchers have a winning record in road games and a losing record in home games! The Diamondbacks’ slugging percentage is better on the road (.395 vs .358). And the Diamondbacks’ slugging percentage against the Dodgers is equal to or better than against the Padres, Pirates, and Rangers.
Offensively, Adrian Gonzalez is amazing! He leads the major leagues in offensive WAR, slugging percent, and total bases. Alex Guerrero, Howie Kendrick, Joc Pederson, Andre Eithier, and Yasiel Puig have helped the Dodgers lead the national league in home runs. Recently, Joc Pederson is a hot hitter. This season, the Dodgers have scored 6 runs or more in half their games. Puig’s absence due to a pulled left hamstring and Crawford's absense due to an oblique strain will not significantly reduce their offense.
Offensively, Mark Trumbo is great, but not yet golden! His OPS (.880) is almost as high as Paul Goldschmidt’s OPS (1.030). He is tied for second in the major leagues in triples (3). Due to the Dodgers’ pitching weakness this series, it is likely the Diamondback hitters will shine. If they can score six or seven runs per game, the Diamondbacks are likely to win the series. Given that the Diamondbacks have averaged 4.6 runs per game this season, and because concerns about hitting with runners in scoring position, a more realistic assessment of Diamondback hitters leads me to predict one win this series.
Diamondback starting pitching has heated up, with numerous quality starts. Both Archie Bradley and Rubby De La Rosa have two wins. Josh Collmenter and Jeremy Hellickson have one win.
The Dodgers' misfortune with Brandon McCarthy has caused some maneuvering in their schedule of starting pitchers. The matchups are subject to change by those sneaky Dodgers.
Friday. Rubby De La Rosa (4.68 Earned Run Average(ERA), 9.0 Strike Outs per 9 Innings(SO/9), 3 Quality Start(QS)) vs Carlos Frias (0 ERA, 7.7 SO/9, 0 QS). Rubby De La Rosa has pitched well, with 3 quality starts and 2 wins this season. Starting Carlos Frias, who is a reliever, has made me wonder whether the Dodgers plan to use relief pitchers instead of a starter in this game. This season, Carlos Frias pitched 2.1 innings in 2 games. Last season, Carlos Frias pitched 6.2 innings as a starter in 2 games(September), and 25.2 innings in 13 games as a reliever. Although his first start was good, he allowed 10 hits in the first inning of his second start, before being pulled with 2 outs. Will the Dodgers weaken their bullpen by starting Frias?
Saturday. Jeremy Hellickson (5.24 ERA, 6.4 SO/9, 1 QS) vs Scott Baker (3.86 ERA, 7.7 SO/9, 1 QS). Hellickson has won only once this season. I see two explanations. First, he is exploring different approaches and has not yet found his best. And second, he has the lowest run support of the five Diamondback starters. Is this the game when that changes? Scott Baker had Tommy John surgery in 2012. After that, he consistently allowed an average of one home run every five innings. Likely, the Diamondbacks will hit at least one home run, hopefully with the bases full. Chances are the Diamondbacks win this matchup.
Sunday. Chase Anderson (4.24ERA, 7.7 SO/9, 2 QS) vs Brett Anderson (5.49 ERA, 5 SO/9, 1 QS). Last time these two met they each gave up 3 earned runs, and the game was tied after 9 innings. Arizona won the game in the tenth on an Ender Inciarte walk-off RBI! This game, Chase will be motivated to get his first win of the season! This could be another exciting game.
When the Diamondbacks win a close game, I subjectively identify the players who made the biggest impact. In the second and third weeks of the season of the season, there were 5 impact players.
Pitchers: Archie Bradley, and Daniel Hudson.
Hitters: Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, and Ender Inciarte.
The pleasant surprise is that Ender Inciarte leads the major leagues in at-bats per strike out, with 19.8! This statistic shows his outstanding plate discipline.
Based on wins so far, and projecting future games based on runs scored and allowed, the Diamondbacks are on pace for 87.6 wins this season. Wow! Then I noticed the last two games lifted the projection by 12.3 wins, so I looked deeper. In the last ten games, runs scored equaled runs allowed. All things considered, I’m sticking with my optimistic prediction of 78 wins this season.
In two weeks I will relook at this projection. Meanwhile, the upcoming series against the Dodgers will be well worth watching, and I predict our Diamondbacks will walk away with one win.
Food of the Series
In Los Angeles, Ichiro Mashita, sushi chef at Tokyo Kaikan, began substituting avocado for fatty tuna. The oily texture of avocado was a perfect substitute for fatty tuna. After further experimentation, the California roll was born in the 1960s. The Dodgers’ payroll is fat! Not counting Kemp who was traded away, six Dodgers are paid more in 2015 than the highest salaried Diamondback (Aaron Hill). Those six are Kershaw($32.6 m), Greinke ($25 m), Gonzalez ($21.9 m), Crawford ($21.4 m), Ethier ($18 m), and McCarthy ($12.5 m). For this series, my snack of choice is California rolls because the avocado-loving Diamondbacks are the perfect substitute for the tuna-loving Dodgers! With conviction, I say avocados are delightful!