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Series Preview #44: Dodgers @ Diamondbacks

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Christian Walker and company will try to beat back the Blue Hordes

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I’m hearing some big crowds are expected at Chase Field this weekend when the Dodgers come to town. Something tells me it won’t be because DBacks fans are out in force to help defend the home turf. It may not be the fan friendliest experience at Chase for this series. There will be a lot of Dodger Blue puffy chests, (and puffy eyes the next day presumably). They have a lot to crow about, and I’d expect it to be as obnoxious as ever.

The Dodgers have been nothing short of awesome in most facets of the game. They have far and away the best record in the NL , at 87-47. The next best record belongs to the Braves 7 games worse at 80-54. The Diamondbacks are 20.5 G behind LA, at 67-66

They don’t just lead these categories of offense, pitching and defense, in most cases the difference between LA and 2nd place is greater than the difference between 2nd place and league average.

The one area they have shown some weakness is the bullpen.

Kenley Jansen’s gopher ball problem continues to plague him After giving up 13 last year, (and two more in the world series) he has given up 8 in 50 IP in 2019. He’s blown 7 saves, converting 27, for 79.4% success rate. That includes his latest BS against San Diego on Wednesday night. His ERA is 3.73. In short, he has become an average closer.

Behind him Pedro Baez and Yimi Garcia have been ok in setup roles, but not excellent. Joe Kelly got off to a terrible start, but has been much better of late. The rest of their relievers have been a revolving door, and there are some bad performances sprinkled in there. They hope they have the right combination now, but it was somewhat shocking not to see LA make some kind of move with the bullpen at the trade deadline. Just too expensive I guess.

Many believe this will be their achilles heel in the playoffs. One can only hope.

The Diamondbacks, are coming off a two game sweep of the Giants in San Francisco, getting their record back above .500 at 67-66. However as of this writing there is no news how Ketel Marte is recovering from his hamstring “cramp”. Considering how this team has handled injuries, and the communication about them, it’s just impossible to say. Having already lost David Peralta for the year, they can ill afford to lose their best player. Hopefully Marte’s breakout season will not be interrupted.

The best Dbacks hitters against the Dodgers have been Christian Walker and Carson Kelly. Not only will that need to continue , but Eduardo Escobar will have to improve his record against LA this series for Arizona to have a fighting chance, especially if Marte misses time.

Oh, and lets not forget about what happened last time these two teams faced off:

PITCHING MATCHUPS

This obviously looks like a pretty big mismatch. But Ryu has come down to earth a little bit lately, allowing 11 runs in 10 innings over his last two starts, including 7 against the Yankees. His ERA jumped from 1.45 to 2.00. Last time against the DBacks he threw 7 shutout innings in his first start back from a 10 Day IL Stint.

Merrill Kelly is pitching for his rotation spot. Torey Lovullo was very straight forward about that. If he has a bad game, he will be pulled from rotation. So perhaps a motivated Kelly and slumping Ryu add up to an upset.

A couple of rookies having good debut seasons square off in this one. It’s notable that both have out performed their FIP by a good deal. Gallen had a pretty good start in LA back on July 19th while still with the Marlins, going 5.1 IP, allowing just 2 runs, 1 earned in a 2-1 loss.

Tony Gonsolin made his major league debut against the Dbacks on June 26th and was hit hard, giving up 6 runs, 4 earned , in 4 innings. Since then he’s made four starts and only given up 3 runs in 19 IP, walking 3 and striking out 17.

This is the “Marquee Matchup” for Saturday night. Expect over 40,000 in the house. Would be ACE Robbie Ray matches up against the still really really good but no longer all world Clayton Kershaw. The narrative here obviously is can Ray step up and be THAT guy. This is the kind of game that creates narratives, good and bad.

Walker Buehler not actually confirmed for Sunday, although if not him it will be Dustin May, and Buehler is more interesting to write about. Note the difference between bWAR and fWAR. This is because bWAR is based off of RA-9, or Runs against per 9, which includes un earned runs. Buehler has allowed 63 runs, 52 earned, 11 unearned. So while his ERA is 3.03, his RA-9 is 3.67. That’s a lot of unearned runs, and a bigger than normal gap. While unearned runs indicate “bad defense” behind a pitcher, his job doesn’t end when an error is committed. Still, in THIS case, it’s probably just odd sequencing. His peripherals are pretty awesome.

Alex Young had another “bounce back” game against the Giants last time out, and will hope to avenge a loss to the Dodgers in LA on August 10th when he surrendered 4 runs in 3.1 IP.