Feel The Force.
Darker times are upon us if we have to believe many experts. That is especially true for baseball with autumn and October baseball approaching, but for the Diamondbacks it is a reality already as the Dodgers enter town.
Prepare and take out the light to free all those blue hordes of the darkness.
A week ago we were surely a bit more optimistic than we are right now. Some on this site were even talking about play-offs. After a lost opportunity in San Diego and a cold shower in Denver, the Diamondbacks and their fans have returned to earth and are probably aware that achieving 3rd place in this division, getting ahead of the Giants and staying away from the Rockies will be a fine achievement.
We all know the Dodgers, so we don’t have to remember anyone on here that in the upcoming series we will play the toughest team the Diamondbacks will face in 2022. The Dodgers just clinched a play-off spot after completing yet another series win (against the Padres), so at least we won’t see them pissing in the pool because of that.
I won’t get into a discussion on who is really the best team in the entire MLB (discussions on weak divisions bla bla bla), but statistically the Dodgers are because they have the best W-L%, most runs scored and least runs allowed.
Their batting line-up is fearful and Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and Freddie Freeman can be found amongst the league leaders in almost any category. The team themselves leads the entire league in OBP and SLG and other related categories, while they are league average in strikeouts and are amongst the least teams that ground into double play. Yep, this is a powerful lineup with no weaknesses except for Arizona native Cody Bellinger.
Together with the Astros the Dodgers lead the MLB in pitching as well. Los Angeles has the lowest ERA of all teams, second-lowest base on balls, leader in baserunners allowed, and is a top 10 in strikeouts. That is even more impressive if you know that they have had their starting pitchers going off and on the IL. Clayton Kershaw and all of his pains are probably a well-known story, but the Dodgers also lost Walker Buehler to the IL with TJ and recently their All Star pitcher Tony Gonsolin as well, with a right forearm strain. And add to them “he-who-shall-not-be-named” as well of course.
Besides Buehler and Gonsolin, the Dodgers are also without relievers Brusdar Graterol, Yency Almonte, David Price, Víctor González and (former) D-Backs’ fan favourite Daniel Hudson for this series.
But that doesn’t stop them from beating any opponent and it probably won’t stop them from beating the Snakes either.
We are not entirely without a chance though. In 2020* the D-Backs went 2-8, in 2021 we went 3-16 and for this season we are 2-9. So, yeah, of course we have a possibility of winning at least one game. So let’s try and seek which of the three upcoming match-ups will achieve at least that for us.
Game #1 Mon 09/12 6:40 MST, Tyler Anderson (LAD) vs Ryne Nelson (ARI)
- Tyler Anderson. 154.2 IP, 2.73 ERA/3.42 FIP, 1.028 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 6.8 K/9.
- Ryne Nelson. 7 IP, 0.00 ERA/1.12 FIP, 0.571 WHIP, 0.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9.
We all know Tyler Anderson well. The former Rocky was a reliable force in Denver for 4 years before pitching to a terrible 11.76 ERA in 2019. He was put on waivers by the end of that season, finally signed a $1.775 million contract in San Francisco and was non-tendered again at the end of the 2020 season. Went to Pittsburgh for $2.5MM and pitched respectably for the Pirates and Mariners in 2021. Then signed a big $8MM contract in Los Angeles.
Fairy tales only exist in Dodgerland, because that contract ends up being a steal: Anderson is the anchor of this Dodger’s rotation and even earned his first All Star selection.
There isn’t much to nag about Tyler Anderson, because he has been doing consistently great this season: he has success against both lefties and righties and has been pitching as well after the All Star break as before. Anderson already faced the Diamondbacks twice this season, getting two wins and allowing just two runs in 13 innings of work. His last win against us, at Chase Field on May 29, was also the last time the two teams met.
It will be a tough matchup, once again, for Ryne Nelson who after going 7 scoreless against the Padres, will now face a much better hitting line-up in the Dodgers. If he was on some adrenaline the last time, I hope he is able to get on more of that this Monday, because the Diamondbacks will definitely need a great outing from the youngster again to be able to rob a win from Anderson. Is that reasonable? You decide.
Game #2 Tue 09/13 6:40 MST, Clay Tonker-Shaw (LAD) vs Merrill Kelly (ARI)
- Clayton Kershaw. 96.1 IP, 2.62 ERA/2.70 FIP, 0.965 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 9.5 K/9.
- Merrill Kelly. 171.2 IP, 2.94 ERA/3.28 FIP, 1.083 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.7 K/9.
Although some might say that his All Star selection maybe wasn’t completely based on his performance, Kershaw, when healthy, has once again been great for the Dodgers this season. Whether he might choke or not in the post-season isn’t much of our concern, because we will only see him on the mound in the regular season, and, well, we aren’t exactly without a possibility.
Kershaw has pitched well, but most of his success has come against AL Central teams, Cubs and the Reds. Were those match-ups deliberately planned? Who might know, but the Rockies have had his number this year, just like the Giants have been able to take him out early in the game. We can bet on that and that lefties have hit better of Kershaw than righties this year. We just need Kelly to pitch another one of his gems and the bullpen not to blow a lead and we might very well be able to take the second game from the Dodgers. I know that is a lot to ask for, but I suggest we try to lit a candle to make it happen once again.
Game #3 Wed 09/14 6:40 MST, TBD (LAD) vs TBD (ARI)
It is 900 AM MST as I write this right now and MLB still has the starting pitchers for the final game on Wednesday as TBD, although Nick Piecoro already has Zach Davies pencilled in as the D-Backs starter, which makes most sense.
Davies went just 4 innings in his last outing and was punished severely by the Rockies. Ever since returning from his injury early August Davies has not been able to complete a 6th inning, and for the season he has just a 2-4 W-L record, and since August only NDs. That means that on the one hand he hardly dominates but on the other hand is able to keep the team in the game as well. That is probably the best we can hope for against the Dodgers. Our “meh” starting pitcher Davies has faced Dodger evil three times this season, going 4 innings in two starts and 5.1 in his latest match-up with them.
Davies has had just 4 scoreless appearances, twice against the Rockies and the others against the Cubs and Pirates, so it will be hard to imagine him not giving up any runs against the best offensive team in the league and completing 5 innings would be an accomplishment.
If the Dodgers don’t plan on giving a spot start to someone else, my guess is that Dustin May will start the game for the Dodgers. May recently returned from Tommy John. The righty was good in his first two starts against the Marlins, but the next two outings against the Padres he encountered tougher luck. The Dodgers have nothing to lose in running him out against the Diamondbacks and see him going 5 innings or 90 pitches.