Dodgers @ Diamondbacks April 3, 2018: Kershaw vs. Godley; Let the best curveball win

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers turn the page on that ugly one last night, and they turn to Clayton Kershaw (0-1, 1.50) as they look to even up the series in the desert in hopes of securing their first win on the road.

Dodgers
D-backs
6:40 PM
Arizona
CF
Taylor
LF
Peralta
SS
Seager
SS
Marte
RF
Puig
1B
Goldschmidt
1B
Bellinger
CF
Pollock
LF
Kemp
RF
Owings
2B
Hernandez
2B
Descalso
3B
Forsythe 3B Marrero
C
Barnes
C
Murphy
P
Kershaw (L)
P
Godley (R)

Kershaw wasn’t the sharpest and his velocity was down on Opening Day, but he still was effective in his first start of the season. He struck out seven San Francisco batters and walked two in six innings, a Joe Panik solo home run the difference in the 1-0 loss.

It will be interesting to see how Kershaw’s velocity looks tonight, but I’m pretty sure he’s still darn good. Last year against the D-backs, he went 2-0 with a 0.59 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings.

Overall, Kersh is 14-8 with a 2.55 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 26 career games against the division rivals. Although at Chase Field, Kershaw is a mere mortal with a 5-7 record and 3.75 ERA and five home runs allowed in 12 starts. Paul Goldschmidt is only hitting .213/.260/.383 with 10 hits including two home runs in 50 career at-bats against the supreme lefty.

The matchup tonight is a bit of a replay of Game 1 of last year’s NLDS. The Dodgers bested the D-backs in Game 1 of the NLDS, and Kershaw picked up the win. Even though Kersh started off well in the game, he did allow four solo home runs to A.J. Pollock, J.D. Martinez, Ketel Marte and Jeff Mathis. Fortunately, in that game, the bats helped Kershaw out.

Zack Godley relieved a chased Taijuan Walker in the second inning and pitched two scoreless frames. The Dodgers look to figure out his curve again. They made adjustments in the NLDS and eventually scored off Godley in the 9-5 postseason victory.

His breaking ball is pretty nasty though.

Godley, who looks to build on his breakout year last season, makes his first start of 2018. Last season, he went 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA against the Dodgers in three starts. He was arguably the D-backs’ third-best starter last year after Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray. He finished with some strong numbers, many career bests. Godley notched a 3.37 ERA, 3.41 FIP and 1.14 WHIP with 165 strikeouts in 155 innings.

Godley threw that devastating curve 35.6% of the time last season, more than a 10% increase over 2016. When batters did connect off Godley and his killer curve, they were mostly hitting the ball on the ground. His 55.3 percent groundball rate was third-best among National League pitchers with a minimum of 150 innings pitched. He may not quite be another Dallas Keuchel when it comes to GB%, but he’s definitely been extremely effective considering his home ball park pre-humidor.

This time around, the Dodgers won’t have Justin Turner (he hit a three-run blast in NLDS Game 1), and Arizona doesn’t have Martinez.

——

So long, Trayce Thompson.

Needing a fresh arm, the Dodgers recalled their own Zach, right-hander Zach Neal, from Triple-A Oklahoma City. The 29-year old was signed as a free agent in January. He’s 2-4 with a 4.89 ERA, 1.157 WHIP and 6.43 FIP in 30 major-league games with the Oakland A’s the past two seasons.

In order to make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated RHP Jesus Liranzo for assignment. To make temporary room on the 25-man, Josh Fields was placed on the paternity list.

Finally, #JocYourPitcher?

——

After the entirety of the bullpen was burned through during the 15-inning debacle, the best remedy for the marathon loss is a nice, quick Kershaw shutout. Unfortunately, Chase Field usually has something to say about that.

About Stacie Wheeler

Stacie Wheeler
Stacie Wheeler, born and raised in So Cal, has been writing about the Dodgers since 2010. She wrote daily as the co-editor of Lasorda's Lair for five long years, and she has also written for Dodgers Nation and Dodger Blue 1958. She currently contributes to The Hardball Times. Stacie graduated from the University Of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Cinema-Television. You can also watch her videos on her YouTube channel, DishingUpTheDodgers.