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Series Preview #26: Dodgers at Diamondbacks

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The LA Dodgers Steamroll Into Phoenix on a Wave of Youth

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers are on a roll again, but really it’s been a season long roll. They come to town on a six game win streak, and having won 8 of their last 10. They’re 22-8 over their last 30, and now stand at 54-25, for an MLB best .684 W%. 13 games clear of the 2nd place Rockies in the NL West, they won’t be caught for the division title this year, that is almost a certainty.

As you might have heard, they are coming off three straight historic walk off victories. Historic because they won each with a walkoff homer by a rookie. Matt Beatty turned the trick Friday night. Saturday was Alex Verdugo’s turn. And then Matt Beaty, who was just called up late Saturday night, hit a pinch hit walk off Sunday. That’s the first time that has ever happened in major league history.

This got me thinking about how many impact young players the Dodgers system has produced over the last 5 years. This is the thing that always concerns me the most when it comes to evaluating the Diamondbacks long term prospects within the division. Of course LA is a much bigger market, the Dodgers have a longer history, much larger attendance, revenues, and franchise values. They are the behemoth of the National League with the most financial resources to maintain success. The only way for the DBacks to hope to compete with them is to draft and develop better. Unfortunately this is an area where the Dodgers have kicked the DBacks to the curb as well. And this despite vastly inferior draft pick position compared to Arizona. Looking at the period between 2010-2015

As has been well documented, the DBacks squandered many of their draft picks and minor league assets, and failed to develop enough of the ones they kept to allow them to keep pace with the Dodgers. And as a result of these draft and develop failures on the part of the DBacks, AND the success the Dodgers have had, a wide gap has opened up over the last 3+ years in performance impact from rookies arriving on the scene. This is especially apparent on the position player side, where not only have the Dodgers actually allocated more playing time to rookies, but have received 9 times the production in terms of WAR.

The Dodgers have been headlined by players such as Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, Joc Pederson and Alex Verdugo. The DBacks list is somewhat less impressive with Nick Ahmed, Jake Lamb and Christian Walker at the top of the tables.

Dodgers Original Table

DBacks Original Table

On the pitching side, the total numbers appear to slightly favor the Diamondbacks, however the big counterpoint to that is one name: Walker Buehler

Dodgers Pitching Table

DBacks Pitching Table

One thing that has emerged fairly clearly is the Dodgers have opted to focus player development on position players, and utilized the monetary advantage to create their pitching depth over the years. The DBacks in recent years have tried to develop their young pitching, or trade for younger pitching, because it’s cheaper, but keep getting bit by the injury bug.

So this is the challenge faced by Mike Hazen and the entire Diamondbacks baseball operations, scouting and player development team. The Dodgers have just been better at this than the DBacks. Whether or not the Dbacks system can become as effective as the Dodgers, let alone surpass them, remains to be seen. The early (first 3 years ) results are quite mixed. But they’ll have to if they can ever hope to contend with the Dodgers for the division title, as the monetary advantage the Dodgers enjoy is never going away.

SERIES PITCHING MATCHUPS

The numbers above are remarkably similar, and that’s not all the similarity there is these days. Clayton Kershaw’s 4 Seam Fastball averages just 90 MPH now, barely harder than Zack Greinke’s 89.5 MPH avg on his 4 Seamer. But Kershaw still has that excellent command, a great slider and curveball, and while this version is not going to dominate in the same fashion as the Kershaw of 3-4 years ago, if his back holds up he’ll be putting up these kinds of numbers for at least a few more years.

Tuesday and Wednesday starters for the Dodgers are showing as TBD on MLB website as of this writing. Rich Hill has been placed on the IL with a Flexor Strain. So they are sorting things out. I will update this preview tonight when there is more information

Ross Stripling made 6 pretty effective starts to open the season for the Dodgers posting a 2.65 ERA in 27 IP. But was moved to the bullpen when the frontline starters returned, and actually has not been as effective in the pen, posting a 4.02 ERA in 15.2 relief innings. He threw 45 pitches on June 20th, which is the most he’s thrown since his last start April 25th. So he’s not really stretched out. I’d be surprised if he got much beyond 60 pitches today. A patient approach would probably be good for the DBacks today. Stripling throws four pitches, primarily, 4 seam, Curve, Slider, and Change. His Curve and Changeup are his best pitches. If he is getting ahead in the count early and forces the Dbacks to offer at those off speed offerings, it could be a tough day. DBacks should wait him out though, and try to get in Dodgers lackluster bullpen early.

Robbie Ray will go for the DBacks in Tuesday’s game. (6:40 PM) He is 5-3, with a 3.87 ERA . He ranks 5th in the NL in strikeouts with 115, but he also ranks 4th in the NL in Walks with 43. The last time Robbie faced the Dodgers on June 3rd he was a tough luck loser, as he went 7 IP, allowing just 3 runs, walking 1 and striking out 9 in a 4-3 DBacks loss.

Taylor Clarke (1-3, 6.48 ERA) will go for the DBacks on Wednesday’s day game: (12:40 P.M. Start) Clarke has been getting crushed and knocked out of the box early. In his last 5 starts he’s only gone 5 innings once, and totaled just 18 innings in that span. He’s posted a 10 ERA and given up 7 homers among his 28 hits over these 18 innings. Were it not for the fact that the Dbacks literally have nobody else to pitch, he would have been removed from the rotation and optioned back out.

Resource Pages:

Dodgers Baseball Reference

Dodgers Fangraphs and Depth Chart

DBacks Baseball Reference

DBacks Fangraphs and Depth Chart