On a night when Rich Hill was far from his best, the Arizona Diamondbacks took advantage to send the Dodgers to their third consecutive loss and close to within 18 games in the NL West.
The Snakes have the league’s third-best record but are about a week away from being mathematically eliminated in the division. For Los Angeles, the three straight losses represent one-thirteenth, or more than 7.5 percent, of their total on the season. It also throws them off the pace of catching the 2001 Mariners’ 116 wins but if you’re a basketball fan on the West Coast you may have had enough record chasing for the last year or two.
The Dodgers are just 8-6 head-to-head against the Diamondbacks this season with five games left to play, two this week and a three-game set in Cali to start next week. By the Dodgers’ standards, that’s struggling, which could be problematic come October. The Diamondbacks are overwhelming favorites at this point to host the NL’s last playoff team in a do-or-die game for the right to play the Dodgers in a five-game series.
Ideally, the DBacks would probably like to start Zack Greinke in the play-in game, which would leave Robbie Ray to start things in Los Angeles, if Greinke were to be successful. Ray was named to the All-Star Team this season and is putting together his finest year since breaking in as a full-time starting pitcher in 2015. He has struck out 160 guys in less than 124 innings, has an ERA just over three and even pitched his team to victories over the Dodgers in back-to-back starts way back at the start of the season.
But Ray suffered a concussion at the end of July and just made his first start since coming back last Friday — five innings, two hits, and earned run and the win against the Mets. Arizona had lost four of his previous five starts.
There isn’t much Dave Roberts can do as far as handedness goes. Lefties hit .207 against Ray and righties, .202. The Dodgers’ game plan will be to avoid strikeouts and work deep counts to get into the Arizona bullpen as soon as possible, which is do-able against Ray (he’s failed to get through six innings in each of his last three starts and hasn’t pitched into the seventh in over two months).
Meanwhile, Hyun-Jin Ryu is cruising, having helped pitch his team to victory in nine of his last 10 starts. Tonight will be his final start in August, his best month to date. Ryu is 2-0 with a 1.00 WHIP and 1.57 ERA in four starts so far. Even on the road, I like the Dodgers whenever I don’t have to pay out the wazoo.
Free Pick: Dodgers PK