Sometimes you just miss on a game. Our blazing hot finish to the baseball season hit a road bump last night when we backed the Chicago Cubs against the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs had been playing with very little sense of urgency recently and had let the Milwaukee Brewers sneak back into the divisional race, and I expected the Cubs to wake up and play last night at home against an out of contention Pirates team, and that just didn’t happen.
The Cubs came out flat again and let Chris Archer, a guy who has really struggled this season, throw six shutout innings against them. All told, the Cubs managed just five hits and couldn’t even put a run on the board. The Pirates continue to embrace this spoiler role and have taken two huge games from the Cubs in this series. The Cubs are now just a half of a game ahead of the Brewers for the Central Division crown, and that race looks destined to come down to the season’s final day. For today’s pick, I will look at another team jockeying for playoff positioning as the Los Angeles Dodgers play the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Los Angeles Dodgers are in Arizona Wednesday for game three of a four-game series with the DBacks. The Dodgers came to town looking to cement the National League West Division title against one of their biggest rivals, but weren’t able to take care of business last night and now hold just a half of a game lead over the Colorado Rockies for the division crown. With their own season set to end just short of the playoffs, the DBacks would like nothing more than to knock the Dodgers out of the playoffs in this series.
Starting tonight for the Dodgers is Ross Stripling (8-8 2.84 ERA), and for the DBacks it is Zack Greinke (14-11 3.21 ERA). The Dodgers are -117 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Arizona.
When you looked at the schedule a month ago, this looked like a series that could decide the National League West Division race. And it will, but not the way that we all thought. The DBacks have completely fallen apart down the stretch, and after spending more time than any other NL West team in first place this season, they won’t be taking home the title this year. But the race between the Dodgers and the Rockies couldn’t be closer as the Dodgers hold a slim half of a game advantage over Colorado for first place.
And not only is the division title on the line, the runner-up in the division could find themselves out of the playoffs altogether as the St. Louis Cardinals are right in the mix for the second wild card in the NL. With just a couple games left on the schedule, each game could not be more important right now in the NL.
Starting for the Dodgers tonight is Ross Stripling (8-5 2.84 ERA), and for the DBacks it is Zack Greinke (14-11 3.21 ERA). The Dodgers are small -117 road favorites. The game total over-under is set at seven and a half runs. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 PM PST from Chase Field in Arizona.
Ross Stripling was thrown into the Dodgers rotation this year to help pick up the load when several Dodgers pitchers got hurt, most notably Clayton Kershaw. Stripling did a more than serviceable job as a stand-in as he ran up an 8-3 record with a 2.63 ERA as a starter. Now that the Dodgers are starting to get all their starters back healthy, Stripling has been tasked with pitching about of the bullpen and has struggled a bit.
The Dodgers will give Stripling another shot in the rotation tonight though, and he is excited to be pitching in a big-time game with major playoff implications. Stripling has several appearances against the DBacks this season with mixed results, and this will be his first start against Arizona this year.
Zack Greinke isn’t used to be a home underdog. The multi-time All-Star has been a consistent pitcher for many years and is rarely a home dog. He will be a home dog tonight in this one as his team has really struggled recently. The DBacks are 3-7 in Greinke’s last ten starts, and he has seen his ERA rise to almost four runs a game in the last two months. In September, Greinke is 1-2 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts.
The DBacks showed the first signs of life in weeks last night when they walked off the game against the Dodgers. It looked like yet another heartbreaker as the DBacks had led the entire game only to see Brad Boxberger blow yet another save, as the Dodgers tied the game up in the ninth inning. But Arizona was able to rally and win the game in the bottom of the ninth on an Eduardo Escobar home run.
The win was just the sixth this month for the DBacks as they have been in total freefall all month long. Some may see this as a turnaround for the DBacks, I don’t. I see this as us getting a discount on the Dodgers today. Yeah, Zack Greinke is clearly the better side of the starting pitching matchup, but the Dodgers are red-hot and focused on winning a division title. Before last night’s loss, the Dodgers had won ten out of their last twelve games.
I see them getting right back on track tonight in this one. I know Arizona will be motivated to play spoiler, but I just don’t think they are going to have enough firepower to hang with the Dodgers in this one. The Dodgers have been swinging heavy bats in September as they have scored at least seven runs in nine different games. For Arizona? They have only scored more than six runs once all month. Give me the Los Angeles Dodgers as small road favorites at -117 tonight in game three from Arizona!