One of the biggest matchups of the Division Series (DS) is between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers were motivated after defying the odds in the Wild Card Series (WCS) and sweeping the NL Central champion Milwaukee Brewers in two games. Both games were come-from-behind victories.
While the Dodgers are the most dominant team in baseball, having won the NL West 10 times in the last 11 years and topping 100 wins in each of the last four seasons (excluding the 2020 shortened season), they haven’t always performed well in the short term. Even last year, after winning 111 games in the regular season, they were swept by the San Diego Padres in the DS in three games.
The two teams met in the DS for the first time in six years in 2017. Back then, the Dodgers won three straight and advanced to the NL Championship Series. It’s a sore memory for Arizona.
After reaching the postseason in the WC that year, Arizona swept the Colorado Rockies in the WCS to reach the DS, only to be swept by the mighty Dodgers, who were considered the most dominant team of the era after winning 104 games in the regular season. They had an explosive offense with Cody Bellinger, Corey Seager, Justin Turner, and Yasiel Puig, and a solid starting rotation with Clayton Kershaw, Genta Maeda, Alex Wood, and Hyun-Jin Ryu.
However, many outlets are predicting a close DS between these two teams.
MLB.com notes, “The Dodgers have struggled with their pitching staff this season. Kershaw is the only member of the opening day rotation to make the DS roster. Still, they made it to the DS thanks to a batting lineup led by slugger Freddie Freeman and a bullpen that posted a 2.23 ERA in the second half,” but also questioned the pitching staff, saying, “But do they have enough pitching to win 11 games this postseason?
Kershaw will start Game 1 of the DS, as expected. Rookie fireballer Bobby Miller will start Game 2. Manager Dave Roberts was buying into Kershaw’s experience, as he missed nearly 50 days with an injury last summer and has had more bad outings in the postseason with a 4.22 career ERA. But he’s 22-12 with a 2.73 ERA in 44 career starts against Arizona, and 2-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in three games this season.
Said Roberts: “Time will tell. It’s definitely a series we can play in. We need to get more runs from our offense. We have a lot of good pitchers, so I’m confident. I expect (the pitching staff) to do a good enough job.”
All eyes will also be on Arizona’s starting pitchers who will face Kershaw. Ace Zach Galen went six innings in Game 2 of the WCS against Milwaukee on Friday. If he’s healthy after four days of rest, he could start Game 2 of the DS on Tuesday.
Merrill Kelly is scheduled to start Game 1 of the DS on Aug. 8 at 10:20 a.m. at Dodger Stadium. Kelly started 30 games in the regular season, going 12-8 with a 3.29 ERA, striking out 187 and walking 69 in 177⅔ innings. The ERA was the best of his three seasons in which he went over the minimum.
He spent a month on the DL in late June with a right iliotibial band injury, but continued to pitch solidly after his return. He posted a 3.38 ERA in his final 14 games, including a seven-inning, five-hit shutout against the Houston Astros on April 1. He’s a reliable starter next to Galen in Arizona.토토사이트
However, the Dodgers are a ‘nemesis’ for him. In four starts this year, he’s lost two, has a 3.98 ERA, 1.97 WHIP, and a .342 batting average. In 16 career starts, he’s gone 11 without a win and has a 5.49 ERA. Anxiety factor.
Game 1 of the DS will also be Kelly’s first major league postseason start. Not only is there pressure, but the mindset is different.
It will be interesting to see if Kelly, who spent four years in the KBO before moving back to the U.S. and finally debuting in the big leagues as a top-notch pitcher, can keep the Dodgers at bay.