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Series Preview # 28 : D-backs @ Dodgers

Champagne cats are more playful than champagne horses.

Contending is the champagne of catnips.
Contending is the champagne of catnips.
Business Wire (Photo By Getty Images)

The D-backs remain in contention for a wild card berth.

The D-backs are within 2 to 3 games of a wild-card berth. The D-backs are contending. Right now contending feels like winning!

“When you’re winning the grass is greener, the cigars are sweeter, and the girls are better looking.” — Mark Grace. And the cats are more playful!

Two-game series are like champagne horses.

Champagne horses change colors after birth. Two-game series change color after the first game. The winner of the first game will either a sweep or tie, which would be great outcomes for the D-backs against the Dodgers.

I like the D-backs’ chances.

  • In the last series between these teams (June 24-26), the D-backs outscored the Dodgers by 18 runs to 10 runs. The D-backs won two of the three games.
  • This season, the Dodgers rode on three champagne horses (two-game series). On those horses, the Dodgers were outscored 22 runs to 29 runs.
  • The D-backs tied the Dodgers in their most recent two game series (May 8-9, 2018). Both teams scored 11 runs and both teams won a game. The D-backs won the Godley vs Hill match-up. The D-backs lost the Corbin vs Wood match-up.

Who will pitch in this series?

Tuesday. Ross Stripling (138 ERA+, 8.9 SO/9, 2.9BB/9) vs Taylor Clarke (74 ERA+, 7.3 SO/9, 3.3 BB/9)

This season, Ross Stripling threw cold water on D-back hitters, with an ERA of 0.87 in 10.1 innings. The good news is that in the last two weeks, he has only stretched out to 60 pitches, 3 innings. After Stripling is done, the D-backs will likely shift their offense into high gear against Dodger relievers.

This year, Ross Stripling is co-hosting a podcast called The Big Swing. One quote from that podcast follows:

“If you want something bad enough you’re going to continue to do whatever it takes to break down those walls. I’ve always thought that if you have a passion for something, no matter how many times you fail–you’re going to continue to get up and keep moving forward, fail, and get up and keep moving forward.”Rich Hill

This season, Taylor Clarke has an ERA of 3.6 vs Dodger batters. His ERA against the Dodgers is lower than against the Rockies, Phillies, Giants, and Nationals. It is fortunate he is pitching against the Dodgers instead of those other four teams!

Michael McDermott of the AZ Snake Pit interviewed Taylor Clarke. One quote follows:

“I always liked watching [Max] Scherzer pitch, just the way he competes mostly. He’s got incredible stuff, the kind of mentality he has on the mound, and how he goes about his business every fifth day. He gets it done professionally. His mentality on the mound is what I try to mimic.” — Taylor Clarke

Wednesday. Walker Buehler (123 ERA+, 9.6 SO/9, 1.3 BB/9) vs Merrill Kelly (112 ERA+, 7.2 SO/9, 2.5 BB/9)

This season, Walker Buehler has an ERA of 4.91 against D-back hitters. In half his starts, he allowed 1 run or less. On the other hand, in a quarter of his starts, he allowed 5 runs or more. Which will it be? If the D-backs win the first game of the series, the 5-run version of Buehler will held insure the D-backs sweep the Dodgers.

Walker Buehler is outspoken, on and off the field.

On the field. After striking out Ildemaro Vargas, Rob Friedman tweeted that as he walked off the field Walker Buehler said, “Don’t F’n look at me. Go Sit F’n Down.” Later, what did Buehler say?

“I’ve yelled and screamed and I act a certain way, but if that’s what you have to do to perform, I don’t think anyone can say anything about it.” — Walker Buehler

Off the field. “I think the strike is on the horizon, looming over everybody....There hasn’t been one contract recently where you’re like, ’That’s good for the player.’ ” — Walker Buehler. One reply was on-target. “Really? Machado getting $30 million a year from the Padres isn’t good for the player? Wow. If those are your expectations, Walker, start the strike now, and save yourself time.” — Jim McLennan

Rookie Merrill Kelly was a great addition for the D-backs. The D-backs won 8 of the 17 games he has started, with two 1-run losses.

Merrill Kelly has a mental strength - his forward-looking I-can-be-better perspective. In March, he said, “It can only get better...”. In early June he said, “I felt it was going to be a special day as we got later into the game.” A quote from late June follows:

“More than that, even though the results had been pretty good other than a couple of hiccups, I felt like I wasn’t doing what I know that I can. I wasn’t attacking the way I know I can. Mediocre is a bad term, but that’s kind of how I felt. It took me a minute to finally say, ‘Screw it.’ I’m over the inconsistency. I got to a point where I was tired of not being myself.” — Merrill Kelly