A quick two game series against the third place Diamondbacks (15-20) for the Dodgers (23-11) this week. They'll face 2011 National League wins leader in Ian Kennedy followed by the best player to ever come out of Southeastern Louisiana University, Wade Miley.
Monday, May 14: Ian Kennedy (R)
A former top prospect in the Yankees organization, Kennedy was drafted 21st overall out of USC in 2006. He never appeared on a Baseball America top prospect list simply because he went to the Major Leagues so quickly after signing. So far, Kennedy is having a similar year to 2011, with decent strikeout numbers, few walks, and the ability to keep the ball in the yard. What's interesting to note is Kennedy tends to be an extreme fly ball pitcher, allowing over 60% fly balls every year of his major league career. Kennedy has a four pitch mix that features a heavy dose of 90mph sinking fastballs (67%), an 80mph changeup (19%), a 78mph curveball (10%) and an 86mph slider (5%).
What to Watch For: Because Kennedy lacks top-tier velocity, he will try to keep everything down and away to every hitter. Expect most of his pitches to be heavy-sinking fastballs that will start on the outer third of the plate and dive away from a lefty and start on the plate and work down and in or start off and come back over to a righty. He can reach 93 on his sinker so he has the ability to change speeds with it, but he'll mostly be relying on its movement and location for his success, rather than a dominant offspeed pitch. He does prefer throwing his changeup to his breaking balls, as it looks like his sinker and has similar movement, but is slow enough to keep hitters off balance. Watch for him to throw his slider primarily to righties and his curveball primarily to lefties.
Tuesday, May 15: Wade Miley (L)
Before this season, Miley had accumulated 40 unspectacular major league innings. So far in 2012, he's made the most of his opportunity, though he is coming off two straight below average starts. He'll be looking to get back on track against a lineup that features four left-handed regulars (five if Kemp sits), with some of them sitting due to matchups. In his now 73 inning MLB career, Miley looks like a guy who can't strike anyone out, but manages to also walk too many batters. Another extreme fastball pitcher, Miley throws his 90mph fastball 72% of the time, sometimes with some sinking action. For offspeed pitches, he relies on an 80mph changeup (14%) and an 80mph curveball (14%).
What to Watch For: Look again at Miley's velocity and frequency of his offspeed pitches. They're identical. Hitters won't have to worry too much about timing various pitches, and if he leaves a changeup up in the zone or throws a curveball that doesn't break as much as anticipated, the hitters should have an easy time handling it. He doesn't throw overly hard, and outside of Kennedy's sink, these two pitchers strike me as oddly similar. I expect our hitters to have a good day against Miley since they spent the day before facing similar stuff.