There’s no denying that the Los Angeles Dodgers are phenomenal. At 79-32, they seem like an unstoppable juggernaut, which headlines often call them, but are they unbeatable?
The Arizona Diamondbacks are about to face the Dodgers in a three game series. The last time these two teams faced off, the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks and seriously cut their lead in the Wild Card.
With the Chicago Cubs coming to Chase Field right after the Dodgers series, the Diamondbacks can’t afford to be swept again. In fact, too many losses this week and the Diamondbacks could be unseated in the Wild Card by the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Brewers (59-54) are four and a half games behind the Diamondbacks, but they are entering a four game series with the 53-56 Minnesota Twins. The Diamondbacks not only need to avoid the sweep against the Dodgers, but they need to win the series.
The Dodgers may have made MLB history on Saturday by winning 43 of their last 50 games, but that also means they lost seven games.
The analysis of the box scores from those seven losses, according to Baseball Reference, reveals a few patterns.
In all seven games, the Dodgers only scored two runs in the first three innings of the game. Their opponents scored 18 total runs in the same frames. This is important considering the fact that the Dodgers have a +204 run differential, the highest in the league.
Another key factor was not facing Clayton Kershaw. Now, this is out of the Diamondbacks hand, but luckily, scheduling is on their side. They will face Kenta Maeda, Alex Wood and Yu Darvish. Maeda and Wood are each responsible for one of the Dodgers last seven losses.
Scheduling aside, in the seven losses, the Dodgers’ starters averaged less than five innings pitched and almost 90 pitches thrown.
This means the Diamondbacks will need to drive up pitch counts to keep the Dodgers starters from pitching deep into the game. This will be particularly hard against Wood and Darvish.
Basically, the Diamondbacks will need a minimum of three solid innings from each starter. By solid, that means not allowing the Dodgers to score more than one run. The offense will need to strike early and the bullpen will need to be flawless.
It won’t be easy, but it is possible.
Read the second part, here.