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Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks preview: Ricky Nolasco starts series finale

Ricky Nolasco takes the mound looking to secure the first playoff berth of his career on Thursday afternoon in Arizona.


PHOENIX -- The slumping September Dodgers get their second crack at clinching the National League West on Thursday afternoon on getaway day against the Diamondbacks. After losing 10 of their last 14 games, down times (I refuse to call them "desperate times" since if the Dodgers lose their remaining 10 games, Arizona would have to go 9-1 after Thursday just to tie for the division) call for extreme measures.

Perhaps Vin Scully was simply foreshadowing 43-44 years ago when he hosted a game show:

"It takes two" had a different meaning for Ricky Nolasco in his last start on Saturday against San Francisco when he only took the mound in two innings. Nolasco allowed seven runs and recorded four outs but has otherwise been fantastic with the Dodgers.

Nolasco is 8-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts, with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks in 75⅓ innings. He has started three times against the Diamondbacks this year, including once while with the Marlins, and won them all. Nolasco has allowed one run in each of his three starts against Arizona in 2013, with 22 strikeouts and two walks in 21⅔ innings.

In his career Nolasco is 8-2 with a 3.48 ERA in 11 starts against the Diamondbacks. Noted Dodger killer (and really, MLB killer) Paul Goldschmidt is just 2-for-11 against Nolasco with a walk and five strikeouts.

Wade Miley had a similar blow-up start to Nolasco on Sept. 3 against the Blue Jays, when he allowed five runs and recorded just five outs. But he has responded with two good starts since and in his last 10 starts has a 3.09 ERA, 46 strikeouts, 21 walks in 64 innings and eight quality starts, including seven games allowing two or fewer runs.

Mark Ellis is 10-for-20 (.500) with four home runs against Miley. Matt Kemp is 4-for-9 (.444) with two home runs against him.

The Dodgers have struggled this season against left-handed starters, going just 25-24 in games started against them by a southpaw. Though as a team the Dodgers are hitting .257/.317/.399 against lefties, the fourth-highest OPS in the National League.

If the Dodgers do happen to clinch the division on Thursday, it will mark the earliest date the Dodgers have secured a playoff berth since Sept. 8, 1955. With nine games remaining after Thursday, a Dodgers win against Arizona would make the second-earliest clinch by schedule since the franchise moved to Los Angeles, second only to the 1977 team, which clinched in Game No. 151.

Game info

Time: 12:40 p.m.

TV: Prime Ticket

MLB Gameday