NOTE: This story has been edited to reflect updated starting pitcher info that came out Monday evening.
The Diamondbacks embark today on a grueling 8 games in 7 days road trip with four against the Dodgers, including a day-night double header on Tuesday.
Coming of a 1-2 series loss to the Cubs, the D-backs have lost 3 out of their last 4, but remain in 4th place in the NL West, 1⁄2 game in front of the last place Rockies. They are 4 games behind the Dodgers, who are tied with the Padres for 1st place in the NL West. Arizona is also 1.5 games back of the Cardinals for the 2nd wild card slot. MLB Standings
The Dodgers started out 19-7 but are just 2-5 in their last 7 games, losing back to back series against the Pirates and Phillies. They were almost swept 4 straight at home before Gavin Lux hit a two rbi double in the bottom of the 9th Sunday to walk off the Phillies in a come from behind 5-4 victory. They still have the biggest positive run differential in MLB however
The latest big injury news for the Dodgers is future HOF’er Clayton Kershaw is on the IL with a hip injury and will not pitch in this series. All 10 players on the Dodgers current Injury List are pitchers.
The Diamondbacks only have 3 players on the IL at the moment, Carson Kelly, Luke Weaver, and J.B. Buakauskas. There is no time table for return for any of them as of this writing.
Despite all the injuries, LA still has one of the best pitching staffs in the league. The Diamondbacks have been right behind LA in terms of starting pitching ERA, but the bullpen ranks at or near the bottom in all key run metrics, and are in full blown crisis at the closer position due to the meltdown of Mark Melancon’s season (0-5, 8.49 ERA). He’s been decent in save situations but non save situations have been a disaster, the latest coming Saturday night. Inconsistency from the team’s other big free agent acquisition Ian Kennedy is not helping either. He took a 9th inning loss on Sunday against Chicago.
Dodgers closer Craig Kimbrel 1.04 ERA 5 for 5 in saves, has been lights out. After allowing one run in his first outing on April 8th, he has 8 straight scoreless games. The rest of the Dodger bullpen has been solid, with all the pitchers over 10 IP sporting ERA+ over 100.
Starting Pitching Matchups:
Coming off a win in his last outing against the Marlins, Madison Bumgarner has only walked two batters in his last 17.1 IP. He’s also only struck out 11 and given up 3 HR, but the solo shots are not hurting him. He continues his rebound from a couple of down seasons and that will need to continue in LA to get the series off on the right foot with a deep outing to protect the bullpen ahead of the double header.
The Dodgers continue to protect Tony Gonsolin by limiting his workload, (he’s only topped 80 pitches twice this season). But looking at his ERA and the team’s 4-2 record in his starts it’s hard to argue with the results. He threw 5 shutout innings against the Pirates on May 10th. The D-backs will hope to repeat their effort against him from earlier this year when they scored 3 runs in 4 innings in a victory on April 26th.
Neither team has announced who is starting in the first game of the double header, and the
Both teams will surely be making multiple roster moves Monday night/Tuesday morning. Corbin Martin is out as a candidate for Tuesday’s start as he pitched last night for Reno. Tyler Gilbert hasn’t pitched since May 6th when he only went 2⁄3 of an inning giving up 6 runs. If there’s no injury he’s certainly available, and the team may want a pitch to contact guy, (hoping the contact isn’t too hard!) in the hopes of getting a deeper outing in the nightcap. Another possible option is a Ryne Nelson callup, but he’d need to be added to the 40 man roster. And last but not least Caleb Smith is still a candidate too perhaps. So lots of possibilities, and with expanded double header rosters expect a revolving door with bullpen pitchers too.
Merrill “The Mainstay” Kelly was switched from the day game to the night game. He’s lived up to that moniker for Arizona. The team will really be counting on him to go deep Tuesday night. He’s held his own in Dodger Stadium in the past, despite an 0-2 record in 4 starts. His ERA is 4.30 (Split Link)
Tyler Anderson gets the start for LA in the night cap. No stranger to the D-backs scouting department since his days with Colorado, he’s pitched in 14 games against Arizona since 2016. Among currently rostered D-backs, Nick Ahmed and Ketel Marte have had a lot of success against him. He got roughed up by the Phillies in his last start, allowing 10 hits and 7 runs in 6 IP.
Tough turnaround time, with a day game on following the double header. Not much time for recovery for either team’s bullpen. I’d expect further moves Wednesday morning to bring up another fresh arm.
Zach Davie continues to pitch very well for Arizona and they’ll need him to find a way to get deep in this game as well.
Walker Buehler was hit hard against Philadelphia last Friday, giving up 5 runs on 9 hits, including a homer in just 5 innings of work. But he nearly no-hit the D-backs the last time he faced them April 25th, settling for a 3 hit shutout.
Stars Freddie Freeman, (147 OPS+, 3 HR, 13 RBI) and Mookie Betts (127 OPS+ , 7 HR, 17 RBI) lead the the Dodgers offense year to date. Justin Turner (67 OPS+) was having a down season, but he’s gotten hot the last week. Max Muncy languishes with an 81 OPS+. Cody Bellinger (91 OPS+ ) continues trying to resurrect his career but he’s slumping again. The rest of the Dodger regulars are at or over 100 OPS+ and they have a solid 107 team OPS+
Dodgers Last 7 Days hitting
D-backs last 7 days (6 games) hitting
The D-backs have been getting more hits lately, compared to earlier in the season, batting .244 over their last 6 games. However they’ve only hit 4 homers over that span and most importantly timely hits have eluded them over the last 4 games, going just 6 for 36 .167 w/RISP
This is going to be a physically demanding series, especially for the pitching staff. At the same time the team is not riding high thanks to late inning bullpen meltdowns and anemic offense. But they did manage to take 2 of 3 from LA earlier in the year, a series Torey Lovullo tabbed as a turning point for the team’s confidence in themselves. Hopefully that good performance against this toughest of opponents will continue. A bad series in L.A. could just as easily send them into a spiral.
They’ll follow this series with 4 games in Chicago, 3 of which will be day time central, 11:20 A.M. Arizona time starts. So it won’t get easier on their bodies after LA either.