Arizona Diamondbacks (58-78) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (76-60)
The D-Backs have actually looked like an alright baseball team over the past 2 weeks, 7-5 over their last 12 games. This is more like the team we expected coming into the season: probably not a playoff contender, but over .500 and a step in the right direction. A good September will give hope to both the Diamondback players, and their fans.
State of the Dodgers
The Dodgers have sent 15 different starting pitchers to the mound, and yet they find themselves 3 games ahead of San Francisco for first in the West, and a top 5 ERA. I have no explanation for this. Evil Dodger magic, I suppose. The offense also looks solid, when healthy, with all 9 of their leaders in plate appearances having an OPS+ of 96 or higher. They’re lead by probable Rookie of the Year Corey Seager (.313/.375/.527), with a nice supporting cast of Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasmani Grandal. After being sent down to the minors and nearly traded, Yasiel Puig finds himself back in the Dodgers outfield. He has been very meh this season, probably the worst hitter of their regular starting lineup. Looking at the bullpen, Joe Blanton and closer Kenley Jansen are their two shutdown guys.
- Chris Owings is having quite the week, with a .474 batting average in his last 5 games. Jean Segura is close behind, batting .421 in that time span.
- A.J. Pollock has looked good since returning from injury, with a .321 average and 1 home run in 8 games.
- The Dodgers offense has been unimpressive lately, nobody hitting above .300 in the last 2 weeks.
- Nah, happy vibes.
Andrew Chafin, Rubby De La Rosa, and Chris Herrmann all recently began rehab assignments. I expect they’ll all return to the big league club at some point in September. Of the three, I’m most interested to see if De La Rosa will be able to continue his early seasons success.
The Dodgers have about a million guys on their injury report, but none of them will be returning in time for this series. 6 of them are starting pitchers, which is probably why the Dodgers are putting someone named Brock Stewart on the mound Wednesday.
Game 1: Zack Greinke RHP (12-4, 4.17 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) vs Kenta Maeda RHP (13-8, 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP)
Greinke has performed well throughout his career at Dodger Stadium, with a 2.00 ERA in 47 starts. As a contact pitcher, the pitcher-friendly park served him very well while he was a Dodger. I expect him to summon some of his 2015 form when he returns to LA on Monday.
Maeda has been much less successful in the second half than he was in the first, with a 4.40 ERA in 8 starts since the All-Star Game. Hitters are figuring his deceptive delivery and wide variety of pitches out, and it will be very interesting to see how he adjusts next season. The D-Backs are familiar with Maeda, having faced him 4 times, and should put up a decent amount of runs against him. Advantage Arizona.
Game 2: Shelby Miller RHP (2-10, 6.81 ERA, 1.70 WHIP) vs Ross Stripling RHP (3-6, 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP)
Throw everything that occurred in the first part of Shelby’s season out. His horrible 2016 was a fluke, and September will show the pitcher Miller actually is. He made his first MLB start in about 2 months last Wednesday, allowing 2 runs in 6 innings. That outing against the Giants reflects the type of performance we’ll see the rest of the season from Shelby.
Stripling has been the definition of average this year, exactly what was expected when he was called up. He throws a low-90’s heater, and 3 solid off-speed pitches. The D-Backs offense will be able to generate some good offense against him. Advantage D-Backs.
Game 3: Robbie Ray LHP (7-12, 4.46 ERA, 1.45 WHIP) vs Brock Stewart RHP (0-2, 7.94 ERA, 1.82 WHIP)
Ray’s last outing was a rough one, 6 runs in 4.1 innings, while striking out only two. However, this start was in Coors Field, and you know how pitching in that park goes. He’ll return to form against a very meh Dodgers lineup.
Stewart has made 3 starts in his debut season, and has been awful in 2 of those. On the other hand, his last start was a beauty, 5 scoreless innings against the Cubs. His pitch repertoire consists of a low-mid 90’s fastball, a slider, and a change-up. I have absolutely no idea what to expect from this guy. Advantage D-Backs. I think this is the first time I’ve given D-Backs pitchers the edge in all 3 games of a series. Hooray!
D-Backs win the series, take 2 of 3 games due to their superior pitching.