NLDS Preview: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers
LOS ANGELES (Oct. 6, 2017)- This is the MLB NLDS Preview for the five-game playoff series between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers.
October baseball is here, and it has already begun for the American League. The National League portion begins Thursday, and the first game on schedule is the series between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs. However, most eyes on the west coast will be more focused on the renewal of what has been one of the most physical rivalries in baseball, Dodgers versus Diamondbacks.
Each team comes out of the National League West and very familiar with one another. In 19 meetings this season, the Diamondbacks have won 11 to the Dodgers 8, however the series is dead-even when the games were in Los Angeles at five a piece.
According to ESPN.com, Arizona and Los Angeles round out the second and third best spots in the entire league when it comes to pitching, while they both trail the Cleveland Indians in that regard.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers their staff has a collective 3.38 ERA, but they also led the league in saves. Their leader in saves is All-Star closer Kenley Jansen who has 41 on the year also accruing 109 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched. Jansen is clearly the star of their bullpen, but their main strength this season has been their starting pitching with Clayton Kershaw leading the charge with 202 strikeouts, 18 wins, and a dominant 2.31 earned run average.
On the flip side we have the Arizona Diamondbacks, who had two pitchers that are potential CY Young Candidates in the 2017 season. Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray were at the top of their game this year. Ray led the team in strikeouts with 218 this season while also recording the lowest team ERA with 2.98. Greinke led the team this season in wins with 17, 18 if you count the wildcard game. As far as the bullpen goes for Arizona, their main leaders were closer Fernando Rodney, and the emotional leader of the team, Archie Bradley.
Batting wise these teams were also ranked in the top ten among the league. The Arizona Diamondbacks were ranked fourth in the league with 220 homers, 812 runs, and a .254 team batting average during the year; and the Los Angeles Dodgers are ranked sixth with 221 homers, 770 runs, and a .334 team average.
Third baseman Justin Turner has been steady for the Dodgers and leads the team in the category of batting averages with a .312 and in on base percentage with .415. Rookie sensation Cody Bellinger leads the team in both home runs (39) and runs batted in (97). It will be interesting to see how Bellinger handles his first post season of his career where every pitch counts and the pressure is on. lastly but certainly not least is the man with the most hits for Los Angeles this season, Corey Seager.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt may be the poster child for the Diamondbacks this season, but it has been the late addition J.D. Martinez that has really come alive during the month of September. Even with his red-hot September, the leader in every offensive category for the Diamondbacks is Paul Goldschmidt. One player to watch for Arizona is David Peralta, who went 3-5 with two runs in their wildcard win against Colorado.
Although the classic rivalry of Los Angeles Dodgers against San Francisco Giants can not be matched, this is a newer rivalry that has been brewing over the past few years, even resulting in one benches clearing brawl and several close calls. This series will be arguably the most emotional and intense series in the MLB postseason in either league. The teams have faced each other a lot this season, so they kind of have a decent idea of what damage the other squad can do.
The Diamondbacks in the month of September had a record of 16-11, and the Dodgers had a record of 12-17 with an 11 game losing streak mixed in. Arizona may be have the momentum going into this series, but in Game 1 their pitching will most likely be exhausted from the wildcard game just two days ago. After the Dodgers red-hot start they kind of hit the skids in September, which may or may not be a good thing. It is better to hit that skid in the month before the post season, rather than hit it during the post season and get swept in the first round.
All-in-all, this will most likely (never say never) be a series of close games between two bitter rivals fighting for the same goal. In other words: must-watch baseball.
Photo Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times