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Dodgers, Rockies leading NL West arms race

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Los Angeles Dodgers
Greg Holland has converted all 14 of his save opportunities this season.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers and Rockies begin their four-game National League West showdown on Thursday night at Coors Field, with both teams reliant on a collection of strong arms to fuel their starts.

Entering play on Thursday, the Dodgers and Rockies rank first and second, respectively, in the NL in ERA+ (128, 122) and pitching WAR (6.3, 5.0 — the FanGraphs version). Colorado ranks first in ground ball rate (52.8%) and LA is tops in strikeout rate (26.7%).

Rockies starters are averaging 5.72 innings per start, a number they haven’t reached in a full season since 2010.

The Dodgers bullpen leads the NL in FIP (2.44), xFIP (3.28) and strikeout rate (29%), and are second in ERA (3.00). Rockies relievers rank second in FIP (3.11) and xFIP (3.43), fifth in strikeout rate (25.2%), and are sixth in ERA (3.97).

Closer Greg Holland is healthy and pitching like his dominant Royals days. The back end of the Colorado bullpen is a strength, with Holland, Adam Ottavino, Jake McGee and Mike Dunn combining for a 2.16 ERA with 60 strikeouts and 22 walks in 50 innings.

In the last 12 games, the Rockies’ team ERA is just 2.97, and they have allowed two or fewer runs six times during that span, including three times in six games on the current homestand.

Ian Desmond is healthy and active for the Rockies, someone the Dodgers didn’t face in their first two series against Colorado this season. Desmond is off to a bit of a slow start, hitting .293/.286/.439 with two home runs in 10 games, with 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Desmond has played mostly in left field, a departure from the stated plan when he signed a five-year, $70 million contract this winter. He was slated to play first base, but Mark Reynolds has taken the reins at that position for the Rockies, hitting .336/.412/.681 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI in 34 games. Reynolds is tied for third in the NL in home runs and RBI, and ranks fifth in slugging percentage.

Andrew Toles is out for the year with a torn ACL, so he won’t get to hit at a place he has thrived early in his career. In five games at Coors Field, including two starts, Toles is 6-for-10 in Denver, with two home runs, a triple, a double, and seven RBI.

This will be the first trip for Cody Bellinger to Coors Field, after hitting six home runs in his first 14 career games. The fastest Dodgers player to seven career home runs was Matt Kemp, in 15 games in 2006. The fastest to eight was Yasiel Puig, needing 27 games to do so in 2013.

Game info

Time: 5:40 p.m. PT

TV: SportsNet LA