The Dodgers are back at Chavez Ravine after sweeping the Blue Jays in Toronto and are now in sole possession of first place in the NL West.
The Dodgers will now begin a four-game series against the Cincinnati Reds as Joey Votto and company are looking to gain ground in the NL Central.
Coming into today’s game, the Reds are 58-44 and in third place in the NL Central, but 5.5 games ahead of the Diamondbacks for the second Wild Card spot.
While they took three of four from the Giants, the Reds are a much better team when they are at home. In their last ten games they’re 7-3, so the Dodgers will face a stiff test this weekend.
Here are the three keys to the series:
1. Keep the Offense Rolling
The Dodgers offense has been absolutely amazing and in order to beat a good Reds pitching staff with an even better bullpen, the Dodgers have to rack up the hits. Mat Latos and Bronson Arroyo are quality starters for the Reds, but their closer Aroldis Champan has a canon.
During their six-game roadtrip, the Dodgers hit .326 with 11 home runs while averaging 7.83 runs per game as they won all six games.
2. Yasiel Puig
There’s no doubt Puig has cooled off after his ridiculous hot start, but with Matt Kemp once again on the disabled list, Puig must provide some good at-bats and show some patience at the plate. If his last two at-bats last night were indication, Puig looks like he’s finally starting to make the proper adjustments at the plate.
3. Starting Pitching
As of late the Dodgers bullpen has been a pleasant surprise, even Brandon League has gotten some wins, but the starters must come through with quality outings. The Reds line-up has some very good hitters, including Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, but the Dodgers pitchers have to keep them off balance. Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke are expected to perform, but this is a good opportunity for Hyun-Jin Ryu and Chris Capuano to earn some solid victories.
The Dodgers are the hottest team in baseball and playing at home will only help them against the Reds. The Dodgers will win three out of four, but don’t be surprised if they sweep this series as well.