Diamondbacks @ Dodgers Oct. 6, 2017: NLDS Game 1

(Via)

It’s finally here. The real postseason is now underway. The Dodgers host the Diamondbacks in Game 1 of the National League Division Series.

D’backs
Dodgers
7:31 p.m. TBS
Los Angeles
LF
Peralta
CF
Taylor
CF
Pollock
SS
Seager
1B
Goldschmidt
3B
Turner
RF
Martinez
1B
Bellinger
2B
Drury
RF
Puig
3B
Rosales
LF
Granderson
SS
Marte C Grandal
C
Mathis
2B
Forsythe
P
Walker (R)
P
Kershaw (L)

All games for this series will be broadcast on TBS, which has the game’s worst scorebug (if you’re into that kind of thing).

This has been a culmination of a long, grueling and, at times, disinterested regular season. Seriously, we all knew the Dodgers were a lock for the division in late-July, but the schedule still had to be played out. Yes, things got a little interesting in September, but they rebounded to win 12 of their last 18 heading into this clash against Arizona.

If you missed it earlier, both teams announced their NLDS rosters.

Chris Taylor regressed a bit but still had a great season. Corey Seager‘s elbow looked like it might be a concern, but he hit the ball hard enough to close the season that he might be as healthy as he’s going to be until he (probably) has an offseason procedure to clean up his elbow. Justin Turner was the team’s best hitter all season (and one of the best in baseball). Cody Bellinger looked a bit fried mentally down the stretch, so a few days off after the season might do him well. Curtis Granderson finished the season strong after going through an epic slump of his own. Yasiel Puig is a legitimate power hitter and Yasmani Grandal, despite being streaky, is still a threat at the plate. Logan Forsythe — not Chase Utley — gets the call in Game 1. While Utley is easily the better hitter against right-handed pitching, I get wanting to put the best defense possible behind Kershaw, and Forsythe is a well above-average defender at second base. Forsythe will start tomorrow against (presumably) Robbie Ray. Utley might draw a start on Wednesday.

And then we come to Clayton Kershaw. Despite not being his normal, dominant self after coming back from his back injury (3.60 FIP, .310 wOBA, 20.3 K-BB%), there’s still no one I’d rather see on the mound to start this postseason for the Dodgers.

I’d like to say with 100 percent certainty that Pedro Baez will not pitch in an extremely high-leverage situation, but I can’t. I can say it with 75 percent certainty, if it makes you feel any better. Even so, it’s really an arbitrary number. But if Kershaw does his job, then Kenley Jansen, Brandon Morrow and the Tonys (Tony Cingrani & Tony Watson) should mean Baez doesn’t see the field tonight.

——

Much like last Game 5 of the NLDS last year — the road map to 27 outs — the Dodgers will need a road map to 11 victories. Much of that starts with Kershaw, but the rest of the rotation has to show up. Rich Hill has to pitch like he has in the second half. Yu Darvish has to pitch to his true talent level. Alex Wood has to be as effective as he can be with diminished velocity.

But it isn’t fair to lay it all at the feet of the pitchers. The offense has to show their performance down the stretch was an aberration. Before their massive slump, the Dodgers were the second-best offensive unit in the game to Houston. They are plenty capable of hitting well in the postseason — and no, that doesn’t mean playing small ball. The Dodgers scored 44.7 percent of their runs off dingers, the 10th-most in baseball, but hardly a number to be overly concerned about.

Then there’s the bullpen, which has been a bit of an Achilles’ heel for the Dodgers in recent years. Despite that, this might be the best bullpen they’ve had in October in the last five years.

So if the Dodgers are going to win it all, their stars — Bellinger, Darvish, Kershaw, Jansen, Seager, Turner, etc. — will carry them. There might be an unsung hero or two, but in the playoffs it’s all about star power, and the Dodgers have lots of it.

So, all the Dodger-Diamondbacks games will not start before 6:08 p.m. Pacific time. This is quite optimal for the West Coast-heavy fan bases.

Here’s a little nugget from Eric Stephen at True Blue LA: In the last five series the Dodgers have won Game 1, they’ve gone onto win the series. In the last 10 series in which they’ve lost Game 1, they’ve lost the series. It’s not an absolute certainty that if they lose Game 1 they’ll lose the series (or vice versa), but it isn’t a great omen. So just win, IMO.

It seems like the last couple months just dragged on (because they did). Now, it really counts. Let’s do playoff baseball.

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler
Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosts a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He does contracts and depth charts for FanGraphs and is a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a one-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, California, and has yet to be shot.