Dodgers @ Diamondbacks June 18, 2021: Bauer vs. Smith

After taking two of three from the Philadelphia Phillies (33-33), the Dodgers (41-27) now travel to Arizona for the first time this season to face the … struggling Diamondbacks (20-50). The Dodgers swept them back in mid May in a four game series, outscoring them 19-6. Arizona has lost fourteen consecutive games, and 23 consecutive on the road, setting the longest streak in MLB history. This fourteen game losing streak is also their franchise record. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Dodgers drop one of these games, it just feels on brand for the team in 2021. They shouldn’t though, Arizona is very very bad. The first game of this series features Trevor Bauer on the mound up against the left-handed Caleb Smith.

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6:40 PM Phoenix
CF Betts RF Rojas (L)
2B Taylor CF Marte (S)
3B Turner 2B Escobar (S)
1B Pujols 1B Walker
LF Pollock 3B Cabrera (S)
C Smith LF Peralta (L)
RF Souza Jr. C Kelly
SS Lux (L) SS Ahmed
P Bauer (R) P Smith (R)

Once again, the Dodgers feature a very strong offense, but continue to have a slight weakness against left-handed pitching. Against the left-handed Smith, the only left-handed batter in the lineup will be Gavin Lux, opting for the best possible matchups to produce offense against Smith. Against left-handed pitching, the Dodgers’ offense features a .702 OPS, ranking 20th in baseball, and a 97 wRC+, ranking 19th. Steven Souza Jr. makes his return to Arizona after he sustained a brutal knee injury there back in 2019. The video will autoplay at the top of that article as a heads up if you don’t want to see that.

Overall, the offense for Arizona has struggled, ranking 25th in wRC+ at 88, and 23rd in OPS at .683. They do have a handful of good batters in Ketel Marte (.916 OPS, 149 wRC+), and Carson Kelly (.857 OPS, 135 wRC+), but after that, their offense falls off significantly. They do have Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta, who despite what their stats show, feel like they’ve both hit like Hall of Famers against the Dodgers over the last few seasons. Additionally, Christian Walker feels the same way, however he actually has a career .892 OPS and 125 wRC+ against the Dodgers across 111 plate appearances with ten home runs. Although, the Dodgers as a team should be safe, as Walker has a 1.368 OPS against Clayton Kershaw alone with four home runs in 19 plate appearances, and he won’t get that matchup this weekend.

In addition to their weak offense, they’ve had the worst pitching staff in baseball, with a 5.41 ERA, 4.79 FIP and 1.45 WHIP, all ranking last in baseball. Naturally, they’re allowing the most runs per game at 5.64. Anyways, long story short the Diamondbacks have been the worst team in baseball and the Dodgers have the advantage in every game in every capacity. They just need to execute.

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Here’s how Bauer and Smith matchup.

After being dominant throughout the month of May, Bauer is in the midst of a pretty poor stretch of starts, with a 4.32 ERA over his last four outings with a 1.40 WHIP and eleven walks over 25 innings, resulting in a 10.2% walk rate. Bauer had his fifth loss of the season last time out, in a 12-1 defeat by the Rangers, allowing four earned runs on nine hits and two walks with eight strikeouts over 6.1 innings. As of late, he’s lacked command and control, resulting in walks, hits, and home runs. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to figure it out against the punching-bag that has become the Arizona Diamondbacks. Bauer actually made his MLB debut with Arizona back in 2012, logging just 16.1 innings with a 6.06 ERA. He was the third overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, and was traded in 2012 to the Cleveland Indians along with Bryan Shaw and Matt Albers, for Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp, and Lars Anderson.

If you just glance at his 3.61 ERA, it looks as if Smith has been the best pitcher for Arizona this season. He’s slotted in as a starter in his last three times out with Madison Bumgarner and Zac Gallen missing time. He does have that solid 3.61 ERA, but that’s not representative of his performance as a starter, as he has a 5.19 ERA in 17.1 innings as a starting pitcher, compared to 2.70 in 30 innings as a reliever. Last time out, Smith went 4.1 innings against the Angels, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six. He sits in the low 90’s with his fastball, mixing in a slider and changeup both in the low to mid 80’s.

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Scott Alexander returning soon should help what is consistently a struggling bullpen.

All your injury updates right here. Corey Seager is on track and Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy are set to return next week. The team still hasn’t featured a fully healthy squad since prior to Bellinger’s injury in Mid-April. They might be getting close.

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First pitch is at 6:40 PM PDT on SNLA.

About Allan Yamashige

Just a guy living in Southern California, having a good time writing about baseball. Hated baseball practice as a kid, but writing about it rules. Thanks for reading!