Possible NLDS Preview
The Dodgers are in Phoenix facing the team they most likely will face in the NLDS. The Diamondbacks reached their potential one year too late to save the job of Dave Stewart but they are now playing at the level expected in 2016.
This is a good team with great balance between the hitting and pitching. Fangraphs has them ranked 6th in the NL in hitting. They have a legit MVP candidate in Paul Goldschmidt, a decent robin in Jake Lamb, a johnny come lately in JD Martinez, and some pesky minions in Peralta and Pollock.
They have suffered several injuries, one that ended the season for shortstop Chris Owings, utility infielder Nick Ahmed is out until late August, and the other to Yazmani Tomas who will be out until late August.
The replacement for Chris Owings was Ketal Marte who might be better anyway.
JD Martinez was the big deadline acquisition replacing Tomas in the outfield. ESPN made a point of saying that JD Martinez may have been added simply to beat the Dodgers in a short series. At one time it looked like the Dodgers would throw only left handed starters in the postseason but the acquisition of Yu Darvish changes all of that up. Sure JD Martinez is crushing LHP in 2017. He is eating them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner but he only has 50 PA against them in 2017. In 2016 his OPS against LHP was only .861 in over 100 PA. I don’t say .861 lightly. That is good, but that isn’t someone who destroys LHP. His career OPS against LHP is .896. Again that is good but heck, Kiké Hernadez has an OPS against LHP of .962 in 2017. And………..Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, and Ryu are not the normal left-hand pitchers he would have been beating up in the AL.
JD Martinez was a good addition for the Diamondbacks but he is no Chris Taylor.
The pitching has been great, 2nd best only to the Dodgers in the NL. The rotation is second best only to the Dodgers in the NL. The bullpen is second best only to the Dodgers in the NL.
Robbie Ray is a strikeout machine but he took a ball off the noggin the other day and won’t pitch in the Dodger series. The Dodgers will face the two Zack’s and Walker. It will be the three best pitchers the Dodgers have faced in weeks. For the first time since July 4th-6th they will be facing a competitive team. In case you forgot, the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks, winning each game by one run.
Going into the season I felt the back end of the bullpen would be their undoing unless they fixed it but Fernando Rodney continues to generate save after save. Strangely he has only pitched six innings in the last 30 days. Archie Bradley has been the main savior for the bullpen, he has pitched in 41 games and only been scored upon in seven of them. The only help they got was re-acquiring David Hernandez. The numbers say they don’t need any help, but I still can’t bet on a team leaning this heavily on Fernando Rodney in the postseason. If the Diamondbacks fail to make the NLDS I’m going to bet that Fernando had something to do with it in the play-in game against the Rockies.
|Jorge de la Rosa||-0.1||0||41||7.24||3.73||4.17||4.75||4.76|
|Rubby de la Rosa||-0.1||0||7.2||14.09||4.7||4.7||4.97||3.2|
The Wild Card race in the NL is strangely non-competitive. Headed into the season most would have bet on a team coming out of the East (Mets?) and a team coming out of the Central (Cardinals) or possibly one team coming out of the West (Giants?).
No one would have bet on two teams cruising to the wild card from the West, and those two teams being the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. They had lost 93 and 87 games respectively in 2016.
In a season that has seen everything go right for the Dodgers, even the NL wild card race plays into their hands. With both teams cruising neither will be forced to use their best pitcher during the season ending weekend which means that the ace for both teams will be primed to pitch the play – in game leaving them available for only one start in the NLDS. At best two on short days rest if the series goes five games.
Which means the Dodgers if they have to face the Diamondbacks, would only have to face Greinke one time. You could argue that Robbie Ray is just as good as Grienke but I would not make that argument yet. Zack Godley has been as big a surprise in the Diamondback rotation as Chris Taylor has been to the Dodger lineup but I’m not ready to crown him until I see him finish the season which still has seven weeks to run. Just as I was not ready to crown Alex Wood in the same way.
The Diamondbacks do have four good pitchers, but one is clearly heads and tails above the rest and if you only have to face him one time, that bodes well for the Dodgers.
The Rockies best pitcher missed most of the season but I would think by seasons end Jon Gray would get the nod in the play-in game. Leaving Chad Bettis if he comes back, German Marquez, Jeff Hoffman or Kyle Freeland. If the Dodgers can’t beat the Rockies facing that rotation, then this really was just a regular season marvel once again.