The Dodgers enter their four-game series against the Diamondbacks at Chase Field in a bad spot. They have dropped five of their last six games and are under-.500, a full seven games back in the division of Arizona, who has won all nine of their series so far in 2018.
Preseason projections had the Dodgers winning a sixth consecutive National League West title rather easily. PECOTA at Baseball Prospectus pegged the Dodgers for 99 wins, tied with Houston for the best record in baseball. Arizona was slated for 86 wins, next best in the division. FanGraphs had a similar spread, with the Dodgers at 94 wins and the Diamondbacks winning 84 games.
The divergent starts of these two teams have changed things.
FanGraphs now has the Dodgers at just 91 wins, but still ahead of the Diamondbacks’ 87 projected victories. They give LA a 62% chance of winning the division, and Arizona 28.7%.
Baseball Prospectus has flipped even further, now projecting Arizona as the NL West favorite with 93 wins with the Dodgers in second place at 87 wins. The D-backs are at 69.5% to win the division, with the Dodgers just 23.8%.
Manager Dave Roberts would disagree with the latter, per his comments to reporters before Sunday’s series finale in San Francisco.
“When it’s all said and done, the Dodgers will be at the top of the division.” — Roberts.— Ken Gurnick (@kengurnick) April 29, 2018
Dave Roberts calls his shot: “When it’s all said and done, the #Dodgers will be at the top of the division. I believe it. We believe it.”— Bill Plunkett (@billplunkettocr) April 29, 2018
But what else is he going to say?
One way the Dodgers can improve those division odds is by beating the team at the top for once. Yes, the Dodgers swept the Diamondbacks in the NLDS last year but their regular season meetings with Arizona of late have been a bloodbath in the other direction.
The Diamondbacks have won the last four regular season series against the Dodgers, with 11 wins in 12 games, outscoring Los Angeles 76-36 in those games. This season Arizona is 5-1 against the Dodgers.
Ross Stripling gets the spot start for the Dodgers in the opener, after 10 relief appearances this season. He leads the team in relief innings (14⅓) and batters faced (60) and is third in strikeouts (16) with a 0.63 ERA.
Stripling threw 16 pitches in a scoreless inning in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader in San Francisco, his only appearance in the last six days.
It is unknown exactly how long Stripling will pitch on Monday. He made two spot starts last year, including the last game of the regular season. In his other spot start he lasted three innings, throwing 49 pitches.
The Dodgers do have eight relief pitches to back him, including Brock Stewart, who threw 43 pitches in 1⅔ innings on Wednesday for Triple-A.
Since joining the Diamondbacks, Zack Greinke has a 2.93 ERA in five starts against the Dodgers at Chase Field, including the playoffs, but the Dodgers have won three of the five contests.
Time: 6:40 p.m. PT
TV: SportsNet LA