The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will meet in the playoffs for the first time in this year’s NLDS. The Dodgers hold home-field advantage through the entirety of the playoffs, so the first two games will be played in Los Angeles on October 6th and 7th, with a return to Hell (aka Chase Field) on October 9th and, if necessary, October 10th and a Los Angeles finale scheduled for October 12th.
The Diamondbacks won the season series, notably sweeping the Dodgers in their last 6 head-to-head match ups. Since teams will need contributions from the entire diamond, we’re going to do a two-part positional preview concluding with position players today.
The likely Rookie of the Year facing off against a perennial all-star and potential MVP. This is one of the best positional match ups on the diamond, and it’s really hard to pick who is truly better. Goldschmidt had the slightly better overall year, but both players can bring a little extra to the table with their legs. They’re both top-tier defenders, and they’re both capable of hitting a ball out with any swing. This is a toss up, but the matchup likely swings the D-backs way based on Goldschmidt’s amazing track record.
SLIGHT Advantage: D-Backs
Chase Utley and Logan Forsythe will likely form a playoff platoon at second, with Utley taking the bulk of the time versus right-handers and Forsythe versus lefties. Utley had another decent year in the twilight of his career as he chases another championship. While Forsythe had a down year by nearly every standard, he did maintain an above average walk rate while playing exceptional defense at second.
Descalso has been a pain in the Dodgers side in the past, but he’s not necessarily good. Drury had a career year this year, but he’s also not necessarily good. They both play acceptable defense. They both play below average offense. Not much to love here.
Overall, this is probably close to a push but we’ll give the advantage to the Dodgers because Chase Utley would beat Descalso and Drury in a fist fight.
Slight Advantage: Dodgers
Corey Seager had a solid start to the year, before dealing with some injury issues at the end. That drug his overall line down, but he still had a great year, playing above average defense and hitting the snot out of the ball.
Ketel Marte is acceptable, plays average defense, and he does have a good name. But he’s not Corey Seager. He’s not close to Corey Seager. His ability to impact a game isn’t even on the same planet as Corey Seager.
Big Advantage: Dodgers
Justin Turner had another career year, posting his highest batting average and on-base percentage of his career. He was in contention for a batting title up until basically the last series of the season, and he re-signed with the Dodgers in the offseason for this exact moment. He’s always been a force in the playoffs, and this is no different.
Jake Lamb is actually good! He has some platoon issues, struggling to hit left handers, but he has pop, and the ability to change the entire trajectory of a game. His defense isn’t near Turner’s, but offensively, he isn’t that far behind.
The platoon of Granderson and Hernandez can be productive. Even with his struggles, Granderson can still hit bombs against righties. And even with his struggles, Hernandez can still hit bombs against lefties. Both play competent defense. Granderson has a ton of postseason experience.
David Peralta was finally able to stay mostly healthy for the D-backs, and he put up a fairly decent year. He plays above average defense, and has some pop. He can also take a walk, and doesn’t have very pronounced platoon splits.
Slight Advantage: D-Backs
Chris Taylor truly emerged this year, and really should be an MVP candidate for the Dodgers. His arrival helped mitigate some early injuries and poor performance for the Dodgers, and he helped stabilize the lead-off spot. Even as the season wore on, he showed his worth. And though he did struggle at times, he’s shown the ability to play at an elite level consistently.
A.J. Pollock is another D-back that was finally able to stay somewhat healthy during the year, after struggling with health the year prior. He doesn’t walk too much, but he supplements that by keeping his strike outs down. He has some sock, and can definitely be a force.
Slight Advantage: Dodgers
Yasiel Puig truly rebounded to have an amazing year. Not only did his strike out rate decrease, he increased his walk rate and set a career high in HRs. That’s not to discount his truly elite defense, as there isn’t a right-fielder in the National League that could hold a candle to him. It was great to see, and if he can maintain his composure in the moment, which has shown a weakness in doing so in the past, he can be the force the Dodgers have needed him to be.
J.D. Martinez was acquired before the deadline for basically peanuts, and didn’t disappoint for the D-Backs. Overall, he had a career year going into a free agent class where he should be handsomely rewarded. He mashes lefties pretty fierce, and doesn’t have much by way of a platoon issue. However, his defense is suspect and could be potentially be a weakness in a short series.
Slight Advantage: Diamondbacks
The D-Backs bench should consist of Kris Negron, Adam Rosales, Gregor Blanco and Reymond Fuentes. I’ve heard a few of those names before but none of them inspire confidence.
The Dodgers will run out a bench that has a good amount of depth, as that’s basically what they built their name on. Players like Andre Ethier should make the cut, as well as players who aren’t starting that day like Utley/Forsythe and Hernandez/Granderson. The Dodgers handedly take this one.
Overall, it will be a very competitive series. These teams always play each other tough, and this series is likely to be no different.
Personally, I think the Dodgers will win both home games, lose the Greinke start and finish strong in game 4.
Prediction: Dodgers in 4.
(* Small Sample Size Caveat)
[button color=”red” size=”big” alignment=”center” rel=”follow” openin=”newwindow” url=”http://www.dodgersnation.com/alex-wood-will-start-in-game-4-of-the-nlds-if-necessary-kl0292/2017/10/06/”]Alex Wood Will Start In Game 4 Of The NLDS If Necessary[/button]