Dodgers News: L.A. Travels to Denver for Early West Showdown

The Dodgers did what they were supposed to do this week: Win three of four from one of the worst teams in baseball.

Next comes a more challenging foe. One that may be a divisional threat in the near future.

Colorado won 75 games last season. The team brought in Bud Black for a new dugout voice, and added Ian Desmond to its infield. Desmond is on the disabled list, but that hasn’t stalled the Rockies offense.

Similar to Los Angeles, the Rockies took three of four from a lesser opponent in Milwaukee. Colorado scored six and seven runs in the first two wins, then went cold in a 6-1 loss. The Rockies won the finale 2-1 on a Nolan Arenado homer. Despite just three runs in the last two games, make no mistake: This team can hit.

Speaking of Arenado, he’ll be firm in the MVP conversation if the Rockies are competitive. He has started hot following a 41-homer, 133-RBI 2016. He had a hit in every game of the Brewers series.

[graphiq id=”5m487C31uDj” title=”Nolan Arenado vs. Dodgers” width=”600″ height=”676″ url=”” ]

Hyun-Jin Ryu will be welcomed back by Arenado and the Colorado assault in Denver Friday. Considering the context, if Ryu mirrored Brandon McCarthy’s debut, that’d be unquestionably successful. The Rockies assembled their team with Coors Field in mind, and every series there will be a heavy weight fight. Their home opener will be no different.

Clayton Kershaw starts against Jon Gray in Saturday’s duel of aces. Gray didn’t pitch to his rotation slot in the Opener, allowing five Milwaukee runs in four innings. On the plus side, he had seven strikeouts in those innings.

Kershaw wasn’t perfect in his debut, but better than Gray. He gave up an unearned run in the 1st inning after a Corey Seager error. Kershaw only allowed one earned run in seven innings.

Arenado has 10 hits in 33 at-bats against Kershaw. Carlos Gonzalez (.194), Charlie Blackmon (.206) and DJ LeMahieu (.243) have all historically struggled against the Dodgers ace with 34 or more at-bats.

Kenta Maeda takes the ball in the finale. He’ll go against Tyler Anderson, who was shelled for five runs in 5.2 innings against Milwaukee. Maeda wasn’t particularly sharp in his last start (three runs in five innings) but had no help from his offense.

The Los Angeles offense looks dangerous, at least against righties. The team scored 27 runs in four games against San Diego, yet was shutout in the lone contest started by a left-hander (Clayton Richard). Kyle Freeland, who starts Friday, and Anderson are both lefties. Attacking two southpaws and trying to shutdown a potent Rockies lineup in Denver makes for an intriguing early season barometer for Los Angeles.

For the “baseball is boring” crowd, this may be the series to watch. There is some high-scoring potential here – at least in the two games Kershaw doesn’t start.

If Colorado wants to compete for the postseason, it knows it has to go through L.A. And Black knows he’ll have to go through an old friend.

Black is a mentor to Dave Roberts going back to their days together in San Diego. Roberts said he considers Black his friend and going against each other will be “weird.” He also admitted they may have a beer together afterwards.

Black spoke highly of Roberts.

“I could tell that he was ready for this,” Black said. “His growth in San Diego was great to watch. He became a special coach in many ways.”

The Roberts-Black dynamic could create a rivalry atmosphere between the two clubs. But that, of course, can only come from the Rockies proving to be a threat.

And this weekend is their first opportunity to do so.

[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=””]Julio Urias debuts for Oklahoma City on Monday[/button]

Written by Gabe Burns

Gabe Burns is an award-winning journalist. He serves as a reporter and editor at the DodgersNation news desk. He additionally works as editor-in-chief of The Spectator, Valdosta State University's student paper. Gabe's work has been featured on a number of platforms, including Draft Breakdown and Pro Football Spot. His byline has been cited in media such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. Aside from covering Dodgers baseball, Gabe enjoys watching the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Orlando Magic and Tampa Bay Lightning. He can be followed on Twitter at @GabeBurns_DN.


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