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Series Preview # 42: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Arizona Diamondbacks

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The top two teams in the NL West will battle it out at Chase Field to end August. Here’s what we can expect from the duel in the desert.

Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Alright, so we are going to do things a little bit differently over the next month on days that I do the series’ previews. Now that September is about to begin and we are firmly planted in the playoff race, there are going to be things that are interesting to know outside of just the series at hand. I will of course still be previewing it, and giving you everything you want to know about the upcoming games, but I will also give some detail about our opponents in the Wild Card race and where they stand. With all that being said, we have a really tough test to finish out August with a three game home series against the Dodgers, so get ready for a big NL West showdown. Here is what you can expect over the next three days!

Wild Card Update

Unfortunately, the Dodgers are really good this year and have all but locked up the NL West crown *(barring a meltdown of biblical proportions – which hopefully happens). But the Diamondbacks are still very much alive and well when it comes to making the playoffs. Here are the updated NL Wild Card standings as of end of play on August 28th:

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks: + 2.0 games
  2. Colorado Rockies: - - -
  3. Milwaukee Brewers: -3.0 games
  4. Miami Marlins: -4.0 games

Also of interest, here are the upcoming series for each of those teams and the records of the teams involved.

So the Dbacks will have the toughest opponent this week, with the Rockies having the easiest opponent (although they lost to the Tigers last night). But what could help Arizona is that both the Brewers and the Marlins will have tough weeks. The two game cushion over Colorado is a nice benefit when facing the Dodgers, because by the time we start September and our series with the Rockies, that lead could dissipate a little.

Pitching Matchups:

Game 1: Rich Hill vs. Zack Godley

This series will feature some awesome pitching matchups, and this game is no different. Rich Hill pitched incredibly his last time out, so well in fact that he held the Pirates hitless through 9 innings. Now, normally that would yield a win and a party, but on this fateful night Rich Hill actually lost the game. He was sent back out in the tenth inning to extend his no-hit bid because his offense could muster a lousy run in regulation. However, the first batter in the bottom of the tenth connected for a walk-off home run, and in an instant the no-hitter, shutout, and win were gone. Hopefully that demoralized him or something because he will be a tough one to face. Zack Godley was not an original member of this rotation when Spring Training ended, but he took over when Shelby Miller went down for the year with Tommy John surgery. Since then he has been one of the most valuable members of our team and has solidified the rotation. His last start was two runs in five innings against the Mets, so he will be looking to rebound a little in this start.

Game 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Robbie Ray

In an attempt to find literary symmetry where there is none, this is a matchup of two lefties with last names that are three letters long and start with “R” *(said in a Bob Uecker voice). In all seriousness though, Ryu has been very impressive for the Dodgers the last month or so, with a 1.54 ERA, 31 strikeouts, and 35 innings in his six starts in the second half. Hopefully we see what J.D. Martinez can do against these two lefties, because we’ve had trouble without him in the past. Last week against the Mets, Robbie Ray made his first start in nearly a month after missing time because of being struck in the head by a line drive. His success was a pleasant surprise and certainly welcomed, however, it is better to see him healthy and happy and doing his thing. In that start he pitched 5 innings, while allowing just one run and striking out 9. He will have to face a tougher lineup this time around though.

Game 3: Kenta Maeda vs. Zack Greinke

Fortunately we won’t have to see Clayton Kershaw this series, but Kenta Maeda has been pitching well nonetheless. In his last start, Maeda had a great outing giving up just one run on one hit over six innings. This year, Maeda has a 12-5 record with a 3.76 ERA and has been worth 1.1 bWAR. Zack Greinke is having an amazing season so far, and he won his 15th game in his last time out. On the year Zack is 15-6 with a 3.14 ERA over 166.1 innings with 182 strikeouts. He has been worth 5.2 bWAR and has a chance at becoming the first Diamondback with a 6.0+ bWAR season since Dan Haren many years ago. We are putting our best three starters out there this series, so it will be great to see what we can do against the best team in baseball.

Offense

Our two offenses are actually quite analogous in many different regards. We both average roughly 5 runs per game, and are at league average or above in many different offensive categories. However, the metrics diverge in two major ways. The first way that they are different is when the two team’s offenses are adjusted for park factors, they are diametrically opposed. The Dodgers have a 105 OPS+ whereas the Diamondbacks have a 91. The other way that they are different, is that the Dodgers have seven players with 2.0+ bWAR while the Dbacks only have two.

Conclusion

This series is tough to predict because the Dodgers are so darn good. But, we have our best pitchers (Patrick Corbin’s recent success notwithstanding) going this series and I think that is a great benefit. The Dodgers finally lost a series after nearly three freakin’ months, so it’s tough to predict a series win for the Dbacks. But Arizona has been playing well, and I think that this series will be entertaining either way!