|LOS ANGELES DODGERS||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Chris Taylor - SS||David Peralta - LF|
|Chase Utley - 2B||Jarrod Dyson - RF|
|Yasmani Grandal - C||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Cody Bellinger - 1B||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Joc Pederson - LF||Daniel Descalso - 3B|
|Alex Verdugo - RF||Chris Owings - 2B|
|Enrique Hernandez - CF||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Max Muncy - 3B||Jeff Mathis - C|
|Ross Stripling - RHP||Zack Greinke - RHP|
By the final pitch Thursday, the D-backs will have faced the Dodgers ten times in their first thirty-one games. And we won’t be finished, with two more on the far side of the Astros’ series, this time in LA: that’ll be 12 in 36, or 33% of all our games this season. We then won’t see the Dodgers again until the very end of August, and who can say what the landscape of the division may be like by that point? But now is not a bad time to be facing LA. Just when it looked like they were turning things around, having won seven of eight, they ran right into the buzz-saws which are the... uh, Marlins and Giants, dropping series to each. And they’ve now lost Corey Seager, the best SS in the majors over the past two years, for the season.
They currently sit seven games back of Arizona, and while there’s still an awful lot of baseball to be played, this does give the D-backs an advantage. Even splitting these games would work in our favor, because it would mean the Dodgers failed to gain any ground, and have four fewer contests in which to do so. If the D-backs can take three out of four, that would be better still, obviously. It would send the Dodgers nine games back, and they have not been so far down in the NL West since June 2014. A sweep, and 11 back? Glad you asked. That hasn’t been matched since September 2012, before they began their streak of five consecutive division titles.
It won’t be easy, with Kershaw lurking in the wings for his start. But it has certainly been a long time since the Dodgers have looked so vulnerable in April. None of those five title campaigns began as badly. This is their worst start to a season since 2010: that year was the last time the Dodgers had a losing record, and they finished fourth in the division. The news about Seager won’t have helped matters, and the D-backs have a golden opportunity. if not to sink the Dodgers’ season completely, certainly to push it out onto some extremely thin ice. We could do with Zack Greinke being the ace he can be tonight, and beginning the process.
Silvino Bracho is up from Reno, as a short-term fill-in for Robbie Ray’s spot. And Steve Gilbert just Tweeted that Kris Medlen has been scratched from his scheduled start tonight for the Aces, so it’s possible he could become the Ray-placement on Friday. Something to keep an eye on.