The Diamondbacks are coming off surprising, but very welcome, series wins against the Nationals and the Phillies, two of the teams in front of them in the Wild Card race. One would be forgiven for thinking that the Greinke deal signaled the unofficial end of the Dbacks’ season, but the team would seem to disagree with you on that point. Hazen is making moves to remove dead weight, albeit one to two months late, and the team is stepping up on the field against some tough opponents.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are still one of the best teams in baseball. Currently, they are on a five game winning streak, have won eight out of their last ten, and are sitting a cool eighteen games ahead of the Diamondbacks in the NL West standings. Evil Voodoo magic continues to help them churn out successful prospects at a rate much higher than any team who consistently has the highest payroll in sports(citation needed) has any right to. I can’t wait for them to choke in the playoffs once again.
Game 1: Robbie Ray (10-7, 4.03 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs Walker Buehler (10-2, 3.22 ERA, 0.99 WHIP)
First the good news. Robbie Ray’s command continues to improve. Over his last five games and 29.1 innings pitched, he has only given up four walks, and he didn’t give up any walks in his last outing. Over that same period of time, he has only gone less than six innings once, and since June 3rd, a span of twelve games, he only has two games where he has gone less than six innings. His ERA continues to sit within a couple points of 4, however, in the context of the league as a whole, he is slightly above average, with an ERA+ of 111, the third best mark he has put up in his career.
Walker Buehler is pretty good, in case you hadn’t heard. He is coming off of an incredible complete game, 15 strikeout performance against the Padres last week, where the only run he gave up was a solo shot to PH Manuel Margot in the eighth inning. He is capable of having a bad night, though, as evidenced by his previous start against the Nationals, where he only went 5.1 innings and gave up four earned runs.
Game 2: Alex Young (4-1, 2.60 ERA, 0.86 WHIP) vs Kenta Maeda (7-8, 4.37 ERA, 1.12 WHIP)
Last time out, Alex Young officially became a Diamondbacks starting pitcher. He only allowed two runs in six full innings, but was responsible for the only Diamondback hit on the night during a truly feckless game by the offense. This will be a true test for the young rookie, going up against the potent Dodgers line up.
Maeda hasn’t been great recently, having not won a decision since May 31st (10 starts and one relief appearance). The Dodgers have lost seven of his starts over that time period, including a beating at the hands of the Padres last time out, to the tune of five earned runs in 2.2 innings. This looks to be the most winnable game in the series for Arizona.
Game 3: Mike Leake (9-8, 4.24 ERA, 1.29 WHIP) vs Hyun-Jin Ryu (11-2, 1.53 ERA, 0.93 WHIP)
Leake pitched around trouble in his first start for the Diamondbacks. He gave up eleven hits and two walks in just 5.1 innings, but only gave up two earned runs and one unearned run during his start, in route to an 8-4 Diamondbacks win. This will be a huge chance to win over the Diamondbacks fan base.
Hyun-Jin Ryu would be the NL Cy Young award winner if the season ended today, and there is a very high chance he will be when the season actually ends. If there is a good time to face him, though, it would be now. He’s coming off a short stint on the IL for neck soreness, though I do have to wonder if this was just to get him some rest, with his last start being six scoreless innings with only three hits allowed.
Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m actually slightly optimistic for this series. Game 2 should be an easy win for Arizona, and if you have to face the probable Cy Young winner, his first start after a trip to the injured list is the time to do it. Ray vs Buehler could be dicey, but if Ray can continue his recent moderate success and keep the offense in the game, we might even have a chance there. I say that the Diamondbacks continue their recent mini-run and take the series 2-1, and if everything works out in their favor, even have a non-zero chance of a sweep.