D-backs @ Dodgers July 3, 2019: Buehler for the 2-game sweep on Justin Turner bobblehead night

Photo: Stacie Wheeler

The Dodgers (57-29) are one of the best teams in baseball. Their most recent walk-off win was of the shrimp variety with five straight walks after Greg Holland melted down in the ninth on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium. The Blue Crew continue their final homestand before the All-Star break, wrapping up the short series with the Diamondbacks (43-43) on Wednesday with a shot to sweep the two-game set.

Diamondbacks
Dodgers
7:10 p.m.
Los Angeles
RF
Dyson
1B
Pederson
CF
Marte
CF
Verdugo
LF
Peralta
SS
Taylor
2B
Escobar
RF
Bellinger
1B
Walker
3B
Muncy
3B
Lamb
2B
Hernández
SS
Ahmed LF Beaty
C
C. Kelly
C
Barnes
P
M. Kelly (R)
P
Buehler (R)

Walker Buehler‘s two last starts – both against the Rockies (44-41)- were two drastically different games. On June 21, Buehler struck out a career-high 16 batters in a two run, three-hit complete game. The high from that dominating win against the Snakes didn’t last long. Buehler wants to forget his last start, a disastrous nightmare at Coors Field. He served up seven runs on 13 hits in the loss to the Rockies.

Buehler’s first half (16 starts) has been good despite the last asterisk of a start at Coors. He’s struck out 104 batters (to lead the Dodgers’ pitching staff) in 97 innings (9.6 K/9) which is about on par with his career average (9.9 K/9). Plus, he’s dropped his walk rate (1.3) well below his career rate (2.2).

Buehler pitched 97 innings in the first half of the season, second most behind Hyun-jin Ryu with 103 IP. He’s up there with Ryu in several team pitching categories. Buehler’s 0.97 WHIP is just behind Ryu (0.90). While Buehler’s 7.43 K/BB is solid, Ryu has everyone blown away in the NL with a 13.43 K/BB. That’s some great work this first half by two well-deserving All-Stars.

The last time that Buehler faced the D-backs was back on June 3. He struck out  11, walked none and allowed just one run in eight innings. Overall, in his career, Buehler is 1-0 with a 3.47 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 23.1 innings in four starts against the D-backs.

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Is Christian Walker the new Paul Goldschmidt? It’s far too soon to compare, but Walker has been annoyingly good against the Dodgers this season. Half of Walker’s eight base hits against the Dodgers have been home runs. He’s slugging .808 and OPSing 1.141 vs. the Dodgers. He hit a homer off Buehler last month.

Merrill Kelly (7-8, 4.00 ERA, 4.33 FIP) will make his first career start against the Dodgers. The 30-year old right-hander pitched four seasons with the SK Wyverns of the Korea Baseball Organization. He signed with the KBO before the 2015 season after he failed to make the Rays’ 2014 major league roster. The D-backs signed Kelly to a two-year $5.5 million contract in the off-season. He’s got a nasty sinker.

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It’s Justin Turner bobblehead night, but Turner has been dealing with some soreness left from getting hit with a pitch in his elbow on Sunday and wasn’t available off the bench Tuesday night. Max Muncy is starting at third base, batting fifth for the series finale.

Hopefully we’ll see Turner get a pinch-hit opportunity on his bobblehead night.

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So it begins. The Dodgers made a trade.

Sadler, who turns 29 on July 13, is a right-hander who pitched 19.1 innings with the Tampa Bay Rays (50-36) this year. He was designated for assignment, so the Rays had to trade him or risk losing him on the waiver wire.

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The Dodgers, already stacked with talent, will look to bolster their roster in any way they can going into the trade deadline.

LA leads the NL in OBP (.347), slugging (.472), and OPS (.820). Only the Minnesota Twins (53-31) have a better OPS (.832) in baseball. Surprisingly they don’t lead the league in home runs (140). The top spot goes to the Milwaukee Brewers (46-40) with 147 HRs. Yet the Brewers have struck out 819 times, and the Dodgers only have 682 strikeouts, second best in the NL. They’re not striking out a lot, and they’re walking a ton. They lead the NL with 340 free passes, second most in MLB.

Cody Bellinger leads the team with 53 walks. He’s struck out less than he’s walked.

The Dodgers are an even more complete team than last year, offensively at least. They’re still hitting a bunch of home runs, but they’ve also been patient at the plate and have improved their approach against left-handed pitching (.261) over last season (.240). They’re slashing .268/.363/.459/.822 with runners in scoring position over the first half so far, all improvements on last season’s total numbers. Last season, they OPS’d .760 with RISP.

The biggest additions to the team after the All-Star break are guys they already have.

The bullpen needs to be sorted out and reinforced, but the pitching staff leads the league in ERA (3.40), K/9 (9.54), and has the lowest BB/9 (2.57). Not too shabby.

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A double-digit lead in the division going into the All-Star break is a wonderful thing.

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, Dodger Blue 1958 and The Hardball Times. She currently contributes to True Blue LA. 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.