The final stretch of the season begins on Friday night as the Los Angeles Dodgers open up a three-game series with the Pittsburgh Pirates at Dodger Stadium, in what may be a potential postseason preview.
With an 84-61 record, the Dodgers sit comfortably in first place over the San Francisco Giants by 7.5 games in the National League West, as the magic number to clinch is 10 entering play. In a loaded NL Central division, the Pirates are in second place with an 87-59 record but currently occupy the first Wild Card spot.
Taking the mound for Los Angeles is Zack Greinke (17-3, 1.61 ERA), who looks to give Pittsburgh their fourth consecutive loss. In his last start against the Arizona Diamondbacks, Greinke pitched eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five.
If the season ended today, Greinke’s ERA would be the fifth-lowest among qualified pitchers since 1920. While he has yet to face the Pirates in 2015, Greinke is 8-1 with a 1.41 ERA over 102.1 innings at Chavez Ravine this season.
The only time he was tabbed for a loss was back on May 16 against the Colorado Rockies, an outing in which he yielded one earned run over six innings pitched. In his career against the Pirates, Grienke owns a 5.37 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 53.2 innings.
Opposing Greinke is southpaw Jeff Locke (8-10, 4.43 ERA), who has been up-and-down for most of the year. His last start against the Milwaukee Brewers was excellent, as he allowed just one earned run and five baserunners in 6.1 innings while striking out seven.
Having made three starts against the Dodgers in his career (four games), he owns a 3.50 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 18 innings pitched. With shortstop Jimmy Rollins still battling a finger injury, top prospect Corey Seager continues to thrive with a plentiful amount of playing time.
In 57 plate appearances to date, Seager has already been worth 1.4 Wins Above Replacement according to Baseball Reference. His 20 hits through 13 career games is tied with Lee Lacy for second-most in Dodgers history since 1958, behind Yasiel Puig’s 23.
Additionally, Seager has reached base safely at least once in every one of his starts — amounting to a stellar .426/.526/.617 slash line. In unfortunate news, the Pirates received a devastating blow on Thursday as rookie Jung Ho Kang suffered a season-ending leg injury during a takeout slide at second base.
In 126 games this year, he posted a .816 on-base plus slugging with 41 extra-base hits, including 15 home runs. Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez has historically crushed the Pirates over the course of his career, evident by his .998 OPS in 221 plate appearances.
Andre Ethier is still looking to become the fourth player in Dodgers history to record 300 doubles as he sits just one shy of the benchmark. He’d join a group that includes Willie Davis, Steve Garvey, and Eric Karros.
LF: Justin Ruggiano
2B: Chase Utley
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
C: A.J. Ellis
SS: Corey Seager
RF: Chris Heisey
CF: Joc Pederson
P: Zack Greinke
RF: Gregory Polanco
LF: Starling Marte
CF: Andrew McCutchen
3B: Aramis Ramirez
2B: Neil Walker
1B: Pedro Alvarez
SS: Jordy Mercer
C: Chris Stewart
P: Jeff Locke