clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Series Preview #43: Diamondbacks @ Dodgers

The Diamondbacks head to LA with a chance to do something they have done since 2018...

 A replica bobbllehead of former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda (2) outside the outfield pavilion at Dodger Stadium. Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the sixth worst losing streak in franchise history, the Diamondbacks seem to have remembered that they are a half way decent baseball team. Maybe not Leading-The-NL-West-By-Six-Games good, but solidly in the hunt for a wild card spot. Corbin Carroll is back, having turned his abysmal and unrealistic BABIP, Gabi Moreno is literally back from the IL, and, the coup de grâce, Zach Davies has returned to provide the much needed stability the back of the rotation needed. I trust that I don’t need to put an actual sarcasm font on that last bit.

They’ve got their work cut out for them to keep the momentum going. Up next is the LA Dodgers, the only team that could have a down year and still have a .620 winning percentage with five weeks to go in the season. Helping propel them to that kind of season are duel MVP candidate years from Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman, both of whom have a shot, albeit slim, at stealing the award from the one time clear favorite Ronald Acuña Jr.

Game 1 — 8/28, 7:10 PM: Zac Gallen (14-5, 3.11 ERA/138 ERA+, 1.06 WHIP) vs. Bobby Miller (7-3, 3.86 ERA/113 ERA+, 1.16 WHIP)

The Diamondbacks send the Cy Young favorite not named Spencer Strider to the mound in the first game of the series. A strong performance against the Dodgers, in LA, in a game that has playoff implications would go a long way in his candidacy I think, and given how he has pitched lately, I think he has a chance to do just that. As noted above, it’s a minefield of a line up, but if there’s any pitcher I’d trust to navigate it, it’s Gallen. Over his last five starts, he has an ERA of 2.01, a WHIP of 0.99, and contrary to the narrative that had been dominating his season, three of the starts were on the road.

Miller is in his rookie season after being drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2020 draft. So far, he is joining the long list of pitching prospects that have seen success for Los Angels at the big league level. He faced the Diamondbacks three starts ago and held them scoreless over six innings. This will be the first time this season where he has faced an opponent for a second time, so the Diamondbacks will have a chance to make an adjustment and hopefully have a better shot against him this time around.

Game 2 — 8/29, 7:10 PM: Merrill Kelly (10-5, 2.97 ERA/145 ERA+, 1.13 WHIP) vs. Clayton Kershaw (11-4, 2.52 ERA/173 ERA+, 1.016 WHIP

Kelly is coming off one of his best, and one of his most disappointing, starts of the year. He pitched seven innings of scoreless, one hit ball, but when he went out for the eighth, he was unable to make it through his warm up pitches before having to leave the game due to his ongoing cramping issues. The Diamondbacks again assured us that there was no ongoing source of concern, but if nothing else, it seems to me that concern for his ability to finish out his games is warranted. He’s the one you want on the mound against the Dodgers though. In three starts this season, he’s got an ERA of 1.17.

I don’t know how much there is to say about Clayton Kershaw at this point. The Hall of Famer is just as good as he’s always been when he’s on the field. He has the same WHIP as Zac Gallen, a better ERA, and the same strike out per 9IP. Only problem, he just can’t stay healthy anymore. He’s only got 19 starts on the season following a five week or so stint on the IL due to shoulder inflammation. In his three starts since returning, he’s allowed one run per start, though his last outing was shortened to just two innings due to rain.

Game 3 — 8/30, 7:10 PM: Brandon Pfaadt (1-6, 5.91 ERA/73 ERA+, 1.35 WHIP) vs. TBD

The kid finally did it. He recorded his first Big League win. I think pretty much everyone agrees at this point that evaluating a pitcher based off W/L is not really effective, but it’s still good to see Pfaadt get statistical recognition for how well he has pitched since being called back up. Perhaps most encouraging, he has only given up two home runs in the month of August, putting some distance between himself and one of the bigger problems he’s faced in his pro career. A bit early to make the call, but it seems that direct coaching from Strommy is once again paying off. He has faced the Dodgers once this season, and they tagged him for four runs in 4 23 innings so a chance at redemption for him.


The Diamondbacks have a chance to make a statement in this series. Winning the season series against the Dodgers in and of itself would be huge, but it would also mean that they have a winning record, for sure, against four of five NL West teams, and it would get them that much more attention on the national stage. They should have a chance to do it, too, with Gallen and Kelly both taking the mount. Game one should be theirs pretty easily. Game two is going to be tough, but Kelly will give them a chance to win it, even with Kershaw taking the mound. If we get the Pfaadt that we’ve seen the past few weeks, they take two out of three for sure, and if everything breaks their way, maybe, just maybe, a sweep.

Buckle up. It’s going to be quite the series.