7:10 p.m. PT
It’s been a while since the Dodgers completed a sweep. The last time they did so was two months ago, July 1-3, when they won all three games of their series at home against the Rockies. They’ve had three chances at a sweep since then (four, if you include the two-game series against the Rays where they won the first game), but haven’t been able to get that last victory.
Brock Stewart will take the mound to try to make it happen for the Dodgers. This will be Stewart’s fourth Major League start (he also made a three-inning relief appearance on August 14 versus the Pirates). You’ll remember that Stewart’s prior start against the Cubs was by far his best, as he shut down the best team in baseball for five innings.
When asked what made Stewart so effective his last time out, Dave Roberts answered, “The slider. The fastball was always pretty good, [though] the results haven’t been for Brock … but that day there was a lot of swing-and-miss with the slider, and he was throwing it for a strike when he needed to.” Per Brooks Baseball, Stewart threw 15 sliders that day, and got seven whiffs.
On the hill for the Diamondbacks is a lefty, Robbie Ray. Ray, like many other southpaws, has given the Dodgers some trouble this year. His first start against Los Angeles was back on April 14, in which he pitched six and a third innings of two-run ball (although the Dodgers wound up winning that game, 5-2). They didn’t fare so well the next time they saw Ray on July 17, when he pitched seven scoreless innings. The Dodgers did end up putting up five runs against the Arizona bullpen, but still lost, 6-5.
Ray’s overall numbers aren’t as good as his numbers against the Dodgers. In 27 starts this season, Ray has a 4.46 ERA (3.51 FIP) and a 1.45 WHIP across 149.1 IP. He’s got good strikeout numbers — 27.6% K rate, and 11.03 K/9 — and is actually fifth in the National League in total strikeouts, with 183. He’s exactly league average in walk rate, at 8.5%, with a slightly-worst-than-average BB/9 of 3.38.
Ray will face a righty-heavy lineup, with the exception of Corey Seager and Stewart (who bats left even though he throws right). Carlos Ruiz is making his third start since the Dodgers traded for him nearly two weeks ago.
A couple of starting pitching notes:
Scott Kazmir made a rehab start tonight in Oklahoma City, and it … didn’t go well.
After a visit from the trainer, Scott Kazmir leaves the game in the top of the first inning. Lisalverto Bonilla will take the mound for OKC.
— OKC Dodgers (@okc_dodgers) September 8, 2016
Roberts had stated pregame that Kazmir would likely pitch Monday or Tuesday in New York if he came out of this start alright, but since that clearly wasn’t the case … well … I don’t know. Your guess is as good as mine. Odds seem pretty good we’ll be seeing more Jose De Leon, though.
On Clayton Kershaw‘s impending return:
Roberts was not having it when asked how long Kershaw may go Friday. "I know, but I'm not gonna tell you. How's that?"
— Sarah Wexler (@SarahWexler32) September 7, 2016
Snarky Dave is fun.
Finally, a programming note: tonight’s recap is going to be a bit later than usual, as I’m going to wait to get postgame quotes before publishing. I’m sure this fair warning won’t prevent a flood of “NEW???” comments after the game, though. (Love you guys.)
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