Posted on October 7, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Los Angeles Dodgers got their 2017 postseason off to a great start in Game 1, scoring four runs before the Diamondbacks could even record their first out. Of course, it wasn’t exactly a cake walk after that, even with Clayton Kershaw on the mound. The Diamondbacks hit four home runs against Kershaw, although unfortunately for them all were solo shots. By the time Kershaw left the game, Arizona had crawled back to make it 7-4 but couldn’t quite overcome a nightmare first inning from Taijuan Walker.
The Diamondbacks may be down 1-0, but they’re not going down without a fight. Through two postseason games, Arizona has already hit six home runs by six different players, showing that they may have the most powerful lineup in the National League playoffs. After hitting four home runs against Kershaw in Game 1, the Diamondbacks will be confident that they can hit the long ball against any pitcher they face. If the power surge continues, it could be Arizona’s ticket back into the series. Of course, the Dodgers also have a few home run hitters, meaning this series could quickly become a slugfest.
Tasked with shutting down Arizona’s power in Game 2 will be lefty Rich Hill. Despite dealing with blister issues early in the season, Hill appears to have put those problems behind him with another outstanding season. The lefty was particularly impressive late in the season, posting a 1.86 ERA in five September starts. That includes a start against the Diamondbacks in which he struck out nine and allowed just two runs over six innings.
For the most part, Hill has good numbers against most of Arizona’s hitters. He also made three postseason starts last year, so the Dodgers should have confidence that Hill can deliver a quality start in Game 2.
Meanwhile, Arizona will go with Robbie Ray in Game 2. Ray will have just two days of rest after throwing 2.1 innings in relief during Wednesday’s Wild Card Game. Bringing him back so soon could be a little risky, although it could also help to ease any playoff jitters.
During the regular season, few pitchers in baseball were better than Ray, who went 15-5 with a 2.89 ERA. He showed no signs of slowing down late in the season. In fact, in back-to-back starts against the Dodgers in late August and early September, Ray struck out 24 and allowed just one run over 14.1 innings, so he should have a good plan for how he’s going to attack the Los Angeles lineup.
If you’re Ray and the Diamondbacks, look out for Enrique Hernandez, who could become a huge X-factor in Game 2. Hernandez has not hit much the past couple of seasons, and he was 0 for 8 in last year’s postseason. However, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts says Hernandez is going to start against left-handed pitchers during the playoffs. He’s also 7 for 26 (.269) with three home runs against Ray in his career. Chris Taylor is also 7 for 16 (.438) against Ray. Those two playing together in the Los Angeles outfield could become key players for the Dodgers in Game 2.
Ray got the better of the Dodgers twice in the last six weeks, and he can do it a third time. He’s actually been a little better over the course of the season than Hill. Also, with offense being the theme of this postseason so far, the Diamondbacks may have a slight edge. In Game 2, the Diamondbacks will put a few more guys on base before they hit their home runs and power their way to a win. Arizona wins 7-6.