Last week the Dodgers played in two quick couplers of series against the Diamondbacks and Padres. In that series against Arizona, the games were split as the D’Backs couldn’t solve Clayton Kershaw, but responded by jumping all over Chad Billingsley.
Despite being just 41 games into the season, which equates to 25 percent of the year, the Diamondbacks find themselves 9.5 games behind the Dodgers, and entrenched into third place. Their deficit is 4.5 games more than the next third-place team (Oakland trailing Texas).
Arizona sorely needs a sweep, but could find some difficulty winning at least one game. They are hitting with a clip of .249 (14th)/.324 (10th)/.379 (21st), and are scoring 169 runs (17th).
On the pitching end, they aren’t better, posting an ERA of 4.15 (21st), a WHIP of 1.32 (19th), and allowing a BAA of .263 (23rd), receiving 22 quality starts (16th).
Infield: Catcher Miguel Montero continues to struggle, hitting just .200 on 3-for-15 hitting. Three of his eight RBIs for the month came in a Friday night victory against the Royals where Montero hit two doubles.
Awakening from his early-season slump is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who is batting .368 since leaving Dodger Stadium last week. He went 0-for-4 in the lone game he played against the Dodgers, one which the D’Backs were victorious in. Goldschmidt is very prone to the strikeout.
The only run that Arizona had to show for in a 3-1 loss last Tuesday was a solo home run by Aaron Hill, a demonstration of what the slugger can do when he makes contact. Still, his landslide of a month has continued, watching him hit .211 in five games since leaving Los Angeles.
Shortstop Willie Bloomquist rests approximately one game per series, and rightfully so, as he’s been hitting hot in his last four games, boasting a .500 batting average. For the month he has stolen just two bases in five attempts.
At the hot corner is Ryan Roberts, who was held hit-less for the first time in six games yesterday. Roberts isn’t walking much this month, taking just three free passes against seven strikeouts, whereas last month he walked eight times.
Outfield: Left-fielder Jason Kubel has alternated between a two-hit game and going hit-less for the last seven games, going without a hit yesterday. The good news for Kubel is that while his batting average may have fallen, he is walking more, which seems to have nullified his power. He hasn’t homered since April 24th, and has only driven in five RBIs this month, compared to 12 in April.
The Diamondbacks have been awaiting the day Chris Young would return to center-field. The slugger missed exactly one month for Arizona, and went down at a crucial time, and Arizona struggled to recover. Like Matt Kemp, Young was off to a torrid start, posting a line of .410/.500/.897, hitting five home runs and 13 RBIs in 11 games, and also stealing two bases in as many tries. Young is dangerous, and could revert to that form at any time. This weekend in his return series, he hit .250 with two RBIs.
Slowly but surely the Diamondbacks are watching Justin Upton begin to contribute. He’s hitting .333 over his last five games with a home run and four RBIs. He’s stolen two bases in that time-frame too, increasing the threat he presents.
Starters: First to oppose the Dodgers is young 22-year-old southpaw Patrick Corbin, who comes off of an outing where he was shelled at Coors Field, allowing six runs on nine hits in 6.0 innings. Corbin is a fly-ball pitcher who has allowed two home runs this season, both coming in separate starts. In his lone start at home, Corbin is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA. He has alternated wins and losses to begin his career, losing his last outing, the aforementioned shellacking.
The Diamondbacks paid Trevor Cahill to come to Arizona and become the team’s no. 3 starter behind Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy, hoping to get the pitcher that went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA for Oakland two years ago. Instead they got the pitcher that went 12-14 with a 4.01 ERA last year. Cahill is 24-years-old and has a long future ahead with the Diamondbacks, but in order for it to be successful he’ll have to pitch better than his 6.67 ERA in three starts at home, going 0-3. He will be pitching on Tuesday night with tenderness in his right shoulder, an issue deemed not to be important or detrimental to his game.
On Wednesday the Dodgers complete the trio of starters not seen last week as they oppose Joe Saunders, who on Friday pitched well enough to earn a win, but settled for a no-decision, holding the Royals to three runs on eight hits in 6.0 innings. He has not won since pitching a complete game shutout on April 27th. Since then, Saunders has allowed at least seven hits in his last four starts, where he is posting an ERA of 7.57. In that stretch he has allowed five home runs. In five starts prior to that, he had allowed only one.
Closer: Since melting down against the Cardinals on May 9th, J.J. Putz has settled down and converted on three saves, allowing no runs on four hits in 4.0 innings, striking out four and walking one. This includes two saves this weekend in Kansas City. The effort has brought his ERA down from 9.00 to 6.43. He is feeling the heat from David Hernandez in the closer role, but appears to be safe, at least through this series.
Monday, May 21st at 6:40 p.m.: Chris Capuano (5-1) vs. Patrick Corbin (2-2) – Prime Ticket
Tuesday, May 22nd at 6:40 p.m.: Aaron Harang (3-2) vs. Trevor Cahill (2-4) – KCAL
Wednesday, May 23rd at 6:40 p.m.: Ted Lilly (5-0) vs. Joe Saunders (2-3) – KCAL