Van Slyke LF
After an embarrassing 13-3 blowout against the Marlins on Wednesday night, the Dodgers had a much needed day off to recoup and regroup before heading out on another lengthy road trip. The Dodgers will begin the trip in Arizona, a series which they could use to gain some momentum in order to hopefully gain some ground in the division. The Dodgers are currently 5 games behind the first-place Giants and in third place. The season is more than 25% complete, and it seems like the Dodgers are not yet firing on all cylinders. With such an expensive pool of talent, their season has been a bit disappointing thus far. Without relying on a historical 42-8 span like last season, this team will need to shore up their defense, bullpen pitching, and get the offense they need from their big bats in order to defend their NL West title.
The Dodgers will finally be back to almost full strength with the return of A.J. Ellis this week and the return of Juan Uribe to the lineup on Friday evening. Although Hyun-jin Ryu is still disabled, his return to the rotation will finally give us a glimpse to the full strength Dodger rotation we planned on before Clayton Kershaw became injured. With the bullpen struggling this season, Ryu’s return will likely shift Paul Maholm to the pen and knock out either the bewildered Brian Wilson or maybe even perhaps Chris Withrow who has also allowed a lot of free passes this season (even though inconsistent, Withrow has been effective). Even with the upcoming roster decisions, the bullpen will have to be able to hold leads and preserve ties. After all, Zack Greinke can’t be expected to pitch a complete game tonight.
Greinke has pitched fantastically this season, and the Dodger finally have that double ace 1-2 punch of Kersh and Greinke they enjoyed last season. The quirky right-hander has only lost once, and it can be argued that he didn’t deserve that loss and win-loss stats continue to be flawed. Donald Zachary Greinke beat the Giants in his last start while allowing 2 runs on 6 hits with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks over 7 innings. He’s already faced the D-backs twice this season in consecutive starts in April. The Dodgers won the game in Arizona, but they fittingly lost the game at home.(Why are the Dodgers better on the road? Let me know why you think that is in the comments). Overall in his career, Greinke is 3-3 with a 4.60 in 10 starts against the Snakes. At Chase Field, he is 3-2 with a 5.31 ERA in 7 starts. Aaron Hill has collected the most hits against Greinke with 11, and Miguel Montero has hit 2 homeruns against him as well.
The Dodgers will face Wade Miley for the fourth time this season already. The Dodgers have won two of three from Miley this season including Opening Day in Sydney. In his last start against the White Sox, Miley won while allowing 2 runs on 4 hits with 6 strikeouts and no walks over 7 innings. Miley has an overall career record of 3-3 against the Dodgers with a 3.96 ERA against them in 11 games (10 starts). Scott Van Slyke has hit Miley very well, and he has 3 homeruns against him with 2 doubles in 13 at-bats. Matt Kemp has also fared well against the left-hander with 2 homeruns.
The Dodgers have won 7 of 8 against the listless Snakes this season, but the D-backs have turned things around a bit this past month. They have won
8 of their last 13 games. Gerardo Parra has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games, and Arizona’s pitching as performed much better lasting deeper into games of late.
Yasiel Puig continues to prove all his naysayers wrong. The electric outfielder has a 14-game hitting streak coming into Friday night’s game. Drew Butera proved his value and won the back-up catching role when A.J. returned. Butera pitched a perfect inning of relief in Wednesday’s debacle in the ninth inning, and with his improved hitting could actually be valuable off the bench as well.
While the Dodgers have beaten up on the Diamondbacks this season so far, Kirk Gibson and company will not be laying down for this series. The Dodgers will need Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez to break out sometime this season, and the bullpen needs to get their act together. Without consistent offense and a reliable bullpen, the Dodgers will not be able to fend off the Giants from the top spot in the West.
Prediction: Zack Greinke dominates on the mound while contributing with the bat as well.
Tune in at 6:40 p.m. PT as the Dodgers take on the Snakes in Game 1 from Chase Field. Can Hanley Ramirez and Adrian Gonzalez snap out of their slumps? Can the bullpen be pieced together to form something that will work this year? Come back to LL after the game for the recap.