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Series Preview #3: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

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After a disappointing road trip, the Diamondbacks return to Chase for their home opener

National League Wild Card Game: Colorado Rockies v. Arizona Diamondbacks

Six games into the season, the Diamondbacks aren’t looking too great. They lost the four game series to start the season against the Padres, who out classed them at every turn, and only managed a split of the two game series against the Rangers. At home, they look to turn their fortunes around against the... Dodgers and Astros

Game 1: Robbie Ray(0-1, 1.90 WHIP, 60 ERA+) vs Ross Stripling (1-0, 0.57 WHIP, 329 ERA+)

It’s only one start, but it seems to pretty well torpedo the narrative about a new and improved Robbie Ray. He couldn’t even make it out of the fourth inning, once again due to a sky high pitch count. He will need to do a lot better against the Dodgers to keep those mega contract hopes alive.

Stripling wasn’t even supposed to be in the rotation until David Price opted out of the seasons, but made a strong case for staying there after going seven innings and only giving up one run against the Giants in his season debut. He’ll look to continue the hot start against a team, that on paper, should be much better offensively than the Giants.

Game 2: Zac Gallen (0-0, 1.75 WHIP, 195 ERA+) vs TBD

Gallen’s first start of the season was a bad process, good results kind of day. He couldn’t find the strike zone with a map, giving up 5 walks in just over five innings of work, and it seemed like he fell behind 2-0 to ever batter he faced. However, he was able to keep it from coming back to bite him too much, only giving up one earned run in his appearance. The Diamondbacks will need him to continue to keep the runs from scoring, but limit the walks so he can go deeper into the game.

Game 3: Luke Weaver (0-1, 2.70 WHIP, 28 ERA+) vs Julio Urias (0-0, 1.60 WHIP, 240 ERA+)

Weaver’s first start of the year was also not very good. He only lasted one out into the fourth inning, and in the span of that one out, he gave up six runs on just seven hits during his outing. At the risk of stating the obvious, the Diamondbacks are looking for a little more from him this game and the upcoming season, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.

Once upon a time, Julio Urias was a top prospect. Then he made the dreaded trip to Dr. Andrews and has been wandering in the desert, so to speak, ever since. He made a good first start to the season, and will look to continue that and continue his comeback against the Diamondbacks.

Game 4: Merrill Kelly (1-0, 0.52 WHIP, 358 ERA+) vs Walker Buehler (0-0, 1.09 WHIP, 90 ERA+)

Merrill Kelly easily had the best Opening Week start for the Diamondbacks, taking a no hitter into the seventh, and only giving up one run, a solo home run to Oder with one out in the seventh. Last year we got good Kelly for a third of the season, bad Kelly for a third of the season, and great Kelly to close out the year. Hopefully great Kelly continues to stick around.

Buehler had an intentionally short start to open the season. He is still getting stretched out, so he was kept at 56 pitches. He is expected to be bumped up to 70-80 pitches this time, but this could be a great opporunity for the Dbacks, especially if they can get to the Dodgers bullpen a couple of times leading up to this start.

Conclusion

Winning a four game series is always hard, and winning a series against the Dodgers is hard. In a normal season, I think everyone would be happy with a split of such a series this early in the season, but given that every game counts for 2.7 games, a bad showing this series could make for a very long slog this year. Bounce back games from any of the first three starters would go a long way to securing a series win for the Diamondbacks, so let’s hope that Ray, Gallen, and Weaver can pull something together against (gags) one of the best teams in baseball.