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Series Preview # 44: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Los Angeles Dodgers

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#KeepSweeping

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks are simply rolling right now. They are 10-0 in their last ten games, and 12 of their last 13 overall. They have really hit a nice stride and for the most part are firing on all cylinders, which is great because the Dodgers and Rockies are a hot mess right now. The Rockies are in danger of losing a Wild Card spot all together, and the Dodgers are in a late season free fall. This is great to hear, because we play the Dodgers one more time in the regular season, and that series starts today. Let’s see what we can expect from the series at hand, but first a Wild Card update.

Wild Card Update

With their recent sweep of the Rockies, the Dbacks have a comfy 6.5 game lead over the second wild card spot with only 25 games left to play. This puts them in an excellent spot to succeed, since that lead could have been a lot less had they not swept in Colorado. Here are the up-to-date standings of the Wild Card as of today:

  1. Arizona Diamondbacks: + 6.5 games
  2. Colorado Rockies: ---
  3. Milwaukee Brewers: - 0.5 games
  4. St. Louis Cardinals: - 3.0 games

We see the Miami Marlins fall out of the top four here, and they are sliding backwards now with a record two games under .500 and 5.0 games out of the second wild card spot. So since we checked in last week before the Dodgers series, the Dbacks had a slim 2.0 game lead on the first Wild Card spot, and the Rockies were 3.0 games up on the Brewers. But now, Colorado is fighting for their lives, and Arizona has a nice lead.

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

So, the Diamondbacks clearly have the toughest test this week while the other three teams will have opponents with records well below .500. So here is what we can expect from our tough series to start the week:

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Robbie Ray vs. Rich Hill

Due to the way that the Dodger’s schedule played out, and the return of Clayton Kershaw, we will actually see the exact same three starting pitchers that we saw last week. This is a welcoming sight because the Dbacks lit up all three starters and hopefully they can do the same this week. Last time out, Rich Hill gave up five runs in the first inning to the Diamondbacks and took the loss as he didn’t have to worry about staying perfect for very long in that game. Robbie Ray has been amazing this year, with an 11-5 record, a 2.97 ERA, 170 strikeouts in 130.1 innings, which is good enough for 4.7 bWAR. It’s funny… We haven’t had a 6.0+ bWAR pitcher in seven years, and now we may get two in one year (the other being Greinke). In his last start, Ray struck out 10 Dodgers over 6.2 innings in which he gave up just one run on four hits.

Game 2: Zack Greinke vs. Hyun-Jin Ryu

Zack Greinke had a great start his last time out against the Dodgers as well, tossing 6 innings of one run ball, while allowing four hits and striking out 6. Greinke has an outside shot of winning 20 games for the Dbacks this year, and becoming just the fifth player do so in franchise history. In Ryu’s last start, he allowed six runs over four innings against the Dbacks including a monster home run by Paul Goldschmidt. On the year, Ryu has pitched well (but not stellar) with a 3.71 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 111.2 innings. Although his ERA has been better in the second half, there are a handful of metrics that indicate that Ryu has not been very good in the second half. So let’s hope that is true and continues.

Game 3: Taijuan Walker vs. Kenta Maeda

Walker has been very consistent this season, even if he has not been able to consistently pitch deep into games. He has been able to compile an 8-7 record with a 3.42 ERA and 120 strikeouts over 131.2 innings, good enough for a 3.0 bWAR. In Walker’s most recent start he struck out 10 Rockies over 5 scoreless innings while allowing just three hits and three walks. Kenta Maeda’s fate last week was even worse than Ryu’s because Maeda was pulled after just three innings after allowing seven earned runs on eight hits. With a staff that includes Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Alex Wood, Rich Hill and Hyun-Jin Ryu, Maeda will likely have a hard time finding a spot on the postseason roster.

Recent Offense

In their last 10 games, the Diamondbacks are averaging more than 6 runs per game, and have really been in a great groove offensively. A.J. Pollock appears to be coming out of a prolonged slump, and he has been crushing the ball lately. Paul Goldschmidt is continuing to look like a serious MVP candidate, and the only immediate competition looks to be Giancarlo Stanton and his chase for 60+ homers. One of the players that we need to see come out of his slump is Jake Lamb. Lamb was chosen to be an All-Star this year, and rightfully so, but since the All-Star break he has triple slashed .201/.341/.424. He has been hitting in front of Goldy for a while now, so you would think that he has been seeing some good pitches to hit, but he just hasn’t been seeing great results. As a team though, in these last ten games, they have had a +36 run differential, a team OPS over .850, and a starter’s ERA under 2.00.

The Dodgers on the other hand, have averaged less than 3 runs per game over their last ten and are struggling mightily right now. They are 2-8 in their last ten, and are seeing several of their key players slumping hard.

Conclusion

I feel really good about where the Dbacks are at right now, and even better that we get to face the same pitchers that we crushed last week. I don’t know that I could predict a sweep, but I do think that two out of three here is entirely reasonable, especially since we have two of our best pitchers going again. If we do manage a sweep though, the division lead will be all the way down to 10.5 games after it was over 20 not too long ago. Ideally this is just the beginning of an epic collapse by the Dodgers. Go Dbacks!!