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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #137: Narratives ahoy

Zack Greinke returns to Dodger Stadium tonight. Wonder what kind of reception he'll get?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Zack Greinke
RHP, 12-4, 4.17
https://cdn3.vox-cdn.com/assets/2587041/lad.png
Kenta Maeda
RHP, 13-8, 3.38
Jean Segura - 2B Chase Utley - 2B
Chris Owings - SS Corey Seager - SS
A.J. Pollock - CF Justin Turner - 3B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Adrian Gonzalez - 1B
Jake Lamb - 3B Yasmani Grandal - C
Welington Castillo - C Josh Reddick - RF
Yasmany Tomas - RF Howie Kendrick - LF
Socrates Brito - LF Joc Pederson - CF
Zack Greinke - RHP Kenta Maeda - RHP

Last season, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw combined to go 35-10 with an ERA of 1.90 for the Los Angeles Dodgers. They were worth a total of 16.8 bWAR. The Dodgers had Greinke snatched out from under their noses in the winter by the D-backs, and Kershaw's season has been gutted by illness: he has managed only 16 starts (though at 4.7 bWAR is still almost twice as valuable as the next LA pitcher, even though Kershaw hasn't pitched in a game since June!). And yet, they still find themselves in first place in the NL West, and pulling away from the hapless Giants, with a record only two games worse than in 2015.

It's certainly not the starting pitching. Though the arrival of Kenta Maeda has been helpful, that has been a revolving door of walking wounded: Kershaw's return, scheduled for the end of the week, will be about as big a boost as any single player could be. In his absence, the offense has taken up the slack for the Dodgers, led in particular by Corey Seager. Last season, he gave a hit of what was to come, putting up 1.8 bWAR in only 27 games. Playing everyday, he's likely to end up being worth between six and seven wins for Los Angeles. Justin Turner has been solid once again, and Yasmani Grandal is likely going to double his bWAR for them last season.

With San Francisco teetering on the edge of defeat in Colorado as I write, they'll fall to 3.5 games back of the Dodgers. The Giants must now be more concerned about trying to hold onto a wild-card spot over the charging Cardinals and Mets, who appear likely to finish the day one-half and 1.5 games back respectively. If nothing in baseball is ever certain, it seems probably that the Dodgers will set a record by clinching their four straight NL West title. There's an outside chance that could happen in Arizona, since they play here Sep 15-18, though this would require utter implosion from SF. Still, I'm looking forward to them being swept in the NLDS by Washington.