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Series Preview # 20 : D-backs vs Dodgers

D-backs are underdogs.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu
Photo by Three Lions/Getty Images

A major mystery was the lost city of the Incas. Although some said it was Machu Picchu, the accurate answer is Vilcabamba. Vilcabamba was the last refuge of the Inca empire.

Let’s consider a mystery.

Why is population-adjusted average attendance at Chase 47% higher than Dodger stadium (1.7% of Phoenix population vs 1.2% of Los Angeles population)? Although the fan experience may be better at Chase, that is not a complete answer. D-back fans have a big plus over Dodger fans – a lower cost to attend games.

Before we compare costs, let’s look at MLB baseball ticket prices compared to the consumer price index (CPI). Between 2006 and 2019, the CPI rose an average of 1.8% per year. Baseball ticket prices went up an average of 3.0% per year (from $22.21 to $32.99), which is slightly higher than the CPI.

Cost for a family to attend a game: This comparison included 4 tickets, 4 hot dogs, 4 soft drinks, 2 beers, and two baseball caps. The cost for the D-back family was 46% less expensive than the Dodgers family ($145.58 vs $268.00).

That is a huge difference, so I checked it out. I confirmed that D-back fans spend about half as much per game as Dodger fans. On 28 May, I looked at prices to attend a 1 June game. Although I could have gone to websites like ballparksavvy to lower the cost, to be fair I looked at quick and easy prices on the team websites. I ignored special offers like value packs and summer passes. I did not use off-site parking that would have saved me $5.

Cost for 2 people to attend a game: D-back cost was 49% less expensive than the Dodger cost ($60 vs $117). That’s like getting two games for the price of one! What it included:

  • Tickets in the highest section in the outfield. D-back tickets were 49% less expensive ($19 for section 301, row 1, seat 12 vs $37 for section 50RS).
  • General Parking. D-back parking was 41% less expensive ($10 vs $17).
  • Two Hot Dogs. A D-back hot dog was 70% less expensive than a Dodger Dog ($2 vs $6.75)
  • Two Beers. D-back beer was 36% less expensive than Dodger Beer ($4 vs $6.25)

Premium tickets behind the dugout. D-back tickets were 77% less expensive ($135 for section Q, row 9, seat 5 vs $600 for section 15D6). Although I may be overlooking something, Dodger premium tickets are so expensive that those fans could fly to Arizona, stay at a hotel and see the Dodgers play in Phoenix for about the same cost as Los Angeles. To those fans I say welcome to Chase!

It’s no mystery that the D-backs are underdogs with winning chances.

Although several D-back players are injured, I see winning chances.

Last season against the Dodgers, the D-backs scored 4.5 runs per games and won 11 of 19 games. This season, new hitting coach Darnell Coles improved the offense. This season the D-backs are hitting 5.25 runs per game (5.5 vs the Dodgers). Increased runs per game is one reason the D-backs have winning chances.

The Dodgers have a solid lead in the NL West. This series, the D-backs have home-field advantage. Odds of winning each game are provided at Given those odds, the D-backs have a 30.4% chance to win this series plus a 7.2% chance to sweep the Dodgers.

Stranger things have happened.

Two Dodger rookies to watch.

Matt Beaty, first base. Major League debut was on April 30. He hit his stride the last week of May. With 21 plate appearances, he hit 6 RBIs and only struck out twice. “He’s playing more than I expected....He has a good ability to adjust within the at-bat.” —Dodger manager Dave Roberts.

Will Smith, catcher. Major league debut was on May 28. He enjoys catching. “It was awesome, it is always fun to catch one of the best pitchers [Kershaw] of our generation and yes, Rich [Hill] is right there with him...” Will Smith.

His hitting is a work in progress. “In the offseason, definitely made some mechanical adjustments, some approach adjustment too and it’s been kind of a continual improvement from when first I was drafted.... So far, I’ve put together a good year, and trying to get it going forward and to develop more as a hitter and try to keep learning and become a better hitter.” —Will Smith

Who will pitch in this series?

Monday. Walker Buehler (105 ERA+, 8.7 SO/9, 1.8 BB/9) vs Robbie Ray (126 ERA+, 11.8 SO/9, 5.0 BB/9)

In Walker Buehler’s last start against the D-backs, he allowed no runs and only one base-runner until the fourth inning. Unable to get an out in the fourth inning before he left the game, 5 earned runs were charged to him.

In Buehler’s eleven starts this season, three times he allowed 5 earned runs, and three times he allowed 3 earned runs. Good odds of scoring at least 3 runs for the D-backs.

In the last game that Robbie Ray faced the Dodgers, all 3 earned runs were from hits by AJ Pollock. In the third inning, a single scored two runs because Ray walked three batters. This game will be different. I confidently predict that Ray will not walk three batters in one inning.

Tuesday. Hyun-Jin Ryu (284 ERA+, 8.5 SO/9, 0.6 BB/9) vs Taylor Clarke (88 ERA+, 5.7 SO/9, 2.6 BB/9)

Hyun-Jin Ryu has the best ERA (1.48) and best FIP (2.53) of all the Dodger pitchers. He is on many NL leader boards, including first in SO/BB (13.8) and first in wins (8). In his last start against the D-backs, he allowed 1 earned run in 6 innings. It was a homer by Adam Jones.

What pitcher has not experienced difficulty pitching at the high altitude of Coors? In his last start, it was Taylor Clarke’s turn. He allowed 5 earned runs in 2 innings, raising his ERA from 2.93 to 5.19. This start, he will bounce back.

Wednesday. Kenta Maeda (117 ERA+, 9.0 SO/9, 2.9 BB/9) vs Duplantier (144 ERA+, 8.5 SO/9, 3.7 BB/9)

In the last game he faced the D-backs, Kenta Maeda gave up three homers (Dyson, Avila, and Jones). And Christian Walker has broken out of his slump! This game will be about hitting homers!

There was much to like about Jon Duplantier’s first start on Saturday. I’m optimistic he will win this game.

  • He did not allow any homers!
  • In four of his five innings, he allowed no runs and was very pitch-efficient (averaged 10.5 pitches per inning). His SO/BB ratio was 2.
  • He struggled in the second inning (35 pitches and 3 runs). He did not let it impact his pitching the next inning.