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Dodgers Look To Plunder Their Way To Postseason

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The Dodgers handed one opponent their 100th loss on the season by beating the Nationals last night, but they won't get the opportunity to do the same to Pittsburgh.  The Pirates are 56-95 heading into the four-game series at PNC Park starting tonight.  The Dodgers are close to clinching both a playoff spot and the division, and are facing a team in a complete tailspin in these Pittsburgh Pirates:

  • The Pirates have lost six straight games, and 23 out of their last 26, the Pirates' worst streak since 1890.  No other team has had a 26-game run that bad this season.
  • The Pirates have also lost 42 of their last 55 games.  No other team has had a 55-game run that bad this season.
  • They have also lost 55 of their last 75 games.  No other team has had a 75-game run that bad this season.
  • Since the All-Star break, the Pirates have been outscored by 126 runs.  That is two runs per game!  
  • The Pirates are more respectable at home, with a 37-40 record on the season, but they are even struggling at PNC Park too, losing 21 of their last 30 home games
  • If Rodney Dangerfield played the Pirates, he would get respect.

The Dodgers have won 46 of their last 60 against the Pirates, included 26-6 in their last 32 games at PNC Park.

Jon Garland has pitched well as a Dodger so far (2.33 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 4.16 x-FIP in four starts), but take a look at the opponents he has faced:

Opponent Frequency OPS+ (NL Rank)
Arizona twice 90 (13th of 16)
Pittsburgh once 89 (14th of 16)
San Francisco    once 82 (15th of 16)

Its not Garland's fault that he has had such an easy schedule.  After all, all you can do is play the teams on your schedule.  The schedule is determined by Major League Baseball, not by Bill Snyder.  However, a look at Garland's Dodger schedule makes it seem like he's the new guy at the office, the owner's son with the corner office and no real responsibility.  To Garland's credit, he has pitched six innings or longer in 20 of his last 21 starts, with a 3.32 ERA and 4.23 FIP during that span.

If you are looking for strikeouts, tonight might not be your night.  There are 139 pitchers that have thrown at least 90 innings this season.  Here are how tonight's starting pitchers stack up in the strikeout department:

Pitcher K/9 NL Rank
Jon Garland
4.58 125th (of 139)
Jeff Karstens     
4.42 133rd (of 139)

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette beat writer extraordinaire Dejan Kovacevic noted the Pirates are "hoping to get 4-5 innings out of Karstens. After that, [manager John Russell] will choose from Donnie Veal, Denny Bautista, Steven Jackson, Chris Bootcheck or Eric Hacker."  Karstens hasn't started a game since June 5, but has a 5.83 ERA and 4.91 FIP in 26 relief appearances since then.  Opposing batters are hitting .276/.351/.483 off Karstens this season, or in other words, the league is Hunter Pence against him.

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Today's scoreboard watching

4:05 pm
Braves (Javier Vazquez: 14-9, 2.77 FIP) at Nationals (John Lannan: 9-12, 4.83 FIP)

The Dodgers can clinch a playoff spot today with a win OR a loss by Atlanta

5:10 pm
Cardinals (Chris Carpenter: 16-4, 2.80 FIP) at Rockies (Aaron Cook: 10-6, 4.66 FIP)

The Dodgers' magic number to clinch the NL West is three.  Aaron Cook returns from the disabled list to make his first start since August 21.

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Check out Xeifrank's simulation of today's game here.

Don't forget to RSVP for True Blue LA Day at Dodger Stadium, on the next-to-last day of the regular season, October 3 against the Rockies.

Get your guesses in for our today's "One, Two, Three Strikes, You're Out," here.

Game Time:  4:05pm

TV: Prime Ticket

Baseball Reference Preview