The Diamondbacks and Dodgers will start their series after the other three have already gotten underway.
The Diamondbacks have a postseason win under their belts after defeating Colorado two nights ago. The Dodgers have been waiting patiently at home after winning an MLB-high 103 games this season, preparing for their opponent. In his second season at the helm, Dave Roberts will begin on his quest to finally take LA over the top and get back to its first World Series in nearly 30 years.
Clayton Kershaw made two starts against Arizona in the regular season and gave up one run in over 15 innings in the two combined. But both of those outings came before Kershaw missed the end of July and all of August with more back problems. Since coming back, he hasn’t been his usually dominant self. Kershaw gave up more hits than innings pitched (barely) in September, which isn’t anything alarming for any good pitcher in Major League Baseball; it’s unheard of for him, though.
The Diamondbacks might not have hit Kershaw this season but I don’t think they particularly fear him, either. They might even be a little pumped up to try and chase him from another postseason start prematurely and continue to anecdote that Kershaw struggles in the postseason.
The offense certainly looks capable. The Snakes got 17 hits on Wednesday, including a double, three triples and two home runs — a three-run job by Paul Goldschmidt in the first and a two-run shot from Daniel Descalso in the third. Arizona has a ton of right-handed power between Goldy, JD Martinez and some of the role players, including AJ Pollock. If Kershaw isn’t sharp, the Diamondbacks will score in bunches.
And that is what will likely have to happen if Arizona is to compete. The Diamondbacks burned Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray to get past the Rockies. It would appear neither of those guys will make more than one start in this series, which is advantage Los Angeles. Taijuan Walker will start Game 1 and either Zack Godley or Patrick Corbin will throw Game 2.
Walker has never pitched in the postseason before and, aside from it being Game 1 against Clayton Kershaw, the pressure is on. That’s because the Diamondbacks’ bullpen isn’t very good and it’s already been tapped into further than Torey Luvullo wanted to in the Wild Card. Walker was a five or six inning guy in the regular season so even if he is excellent tonight, the Dodgers will have more than enough opportunity to whale away at the Snakes’ bullpen.
It just feels like this one is going over. Kershaw has something to prove — that he is healthy and that he can be dominant in the postseason. Walker, meanwhile, is in a little bit over his head. The. Dodgers are big favorites but that won’t be a good angle if Kershaw gets knocked around again, which isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Three runs on each side will get us at least a push and there’s potential for a lot more.
Free Pick: Over 7.0 (-120)