2023 NLDS Preview: Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks

The playoffs begin this weekend for the Dodgers, who earned the two-seed in the National League and a bye in the Wild Card round. The Diamondbacks swept the Brewers to earn a shot at the Dodgers in the NLDS. This marks the fourth consecutive year the Dodgers have faced an NL West opponent in the NLDS. The Padres won in four games last season, but the Dodgers emerged victorious in five games over the Giants in 2021, and in three games over the Padres in 2020. For the Diamondbacks, this marks their first postseason appearance since 2017, when the Dodgers swept them in three games. They haven’t advanced past the NLDS since 2007, when they swept the Cubs before being swept by the Rockies in the NLCS.



Hard Hit %33.2%34.5%

It shouldn’t be the biggest surprise that the Dodgers had a better offense than Arizona this season, there’s a reason the Dodgers finished 16 games ahead in the West. Arizona had three players with OPS’s over .800, led by probable Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll and his .868 OPS. The Dodgers had five players over .800 and two over .900. They also had Will Smith and James Outman finish just under .800 for the season. The Dodger lineup is much deeper, in part thanks to Mookie Betts and his freakish ability to be good in the infield and open up right field for Jason Heyward and his .813 OPS.

Arizona’s bread and butter is their speed. Their 166 stolen bases was the second most in baseball only behind Cincinnati, who stole 190 but were also caught stealing 48 times to Arizona’s 26. Carroll led the way with 54 steals, the second most in baseball behind Ronald Acuna Jr. Jake McCarthy, Geraldo Perdomo and Christian Walker all stole double-digit bases, and Tommy Pham stole 11 in 50 games as a D-back after stealing 11 in 79 games with the Mets. While those numbers don’t show up in the OPS calculation, the ability to turn a single into a double and make the defense have to pay attention to speed on the basepaths can’t really be quantified. If Arizona’s going to win, they’ll likely need to cause some mayhem on the bases.



IP840 1/3801 2/3
OPS (against).766.737
Hard Hit%36.8%32.1%
Average EV90.2 MPH88.7 MPH
SB Allowed4881

These numbers don’t exactly reflect the situations with the rotations at the moment. These are overall season numbers, meaning the awfulness of the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard are likely inflating these pretty heavily. That being said, for as maligned as the Dodger rotation was for most of the season, they ended up being solid overall. “Solid overall” doesn’t exactly scream a contender, especially when the likely rotation features a legend pitching without a shoulder and either three rookies or two rookies and a guy that allowed 44 homers this season. In theory, they should have an advantage if the lights don’t shine too bright for Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot and Emmet Sheehan.



IP595644 2/3
OPS Against.723.657
Hard Hit %33.7%30.7%
Average EV88.9 MPH88.6 MPH

The Dodger bullpen has been superior in basically every stat here. I’m not entirely sure if more innings pitched in a “win”, but the Dodger pen has been quietly stellar, regardless. Most importantly, they suddenly have at least a trio of high leverage arms in Evan Phillips, Ryan Brasier, and Brusdar Graterol. The Diamondbacks did make a deadline move to bring in Paul Sewald, who was one of the better closers in the American League. Sewald appeared in 20 games for the Diamondbacks and allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 17 2/3 innings with 13 saves. Their fireman is Kevin Ginkel, who has proved his 2022 was no fluke and who the Dodgers will likely see a lot of this series, but behind him there’s a lot of quality arms that have question marks on them.



This season, the Dodgers won eight of 13 matchups with the Diamondbacks. Dodger fans should be all too familiar with how little that matters in October. Last season, the Dodgers took 14 of 19 against San Diego only to get swept when it mattered. In 2017, the Diamondbacks won 11 of 19 against the Dodgers and got swept.

Schedule makers were really manifesting this matchup, as the Dodgers and Diamondbacks met eight times in the first 10 games of the series. They started with a 2-2 split at Dodger Stadium, and then the Diamondbacks took three of four in Arizona a couple days later. Basically all eight of those games featured starters that likely won’t be getting starts in this series (Syndergaard, Bumgarner, Dustin May, Julio Urias, Ryne Nelson, Michael Grove).

The two teams wouldn’t meet again until a two-game series in mid-August. The Dodgers won both in Arizona, and they had their first matchup of two pitchers that will start in this series. Miller and Merrill Kelly each threw six shutout innings in the second game, but the Dodgers were able to break through off Kyle Nelson for a 2-0 win.

They met for the final time in late August, and the Dodgers dominated that series in three games all started by guys that will undoubtedly impact this series. Miller, Pepiot and Clayton Kershaw combined to allow five runs in 16 runs, while the Dodgers put up 18 runs in 14 1/3 innings off Kelly, Zac Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt. The Dodgers outscored Arizona 23-5 in the three games (if you’re doing the math, that means the Dodger bullpen didn’t allow a run in 11 innings in that series).

As for the individual matchups for these NLDS games, they’ll be given a deep dive in the Game Threads to come.



Game 1- Saturday, October 7 6:20 PM PT TBS

Game 2- Monday, October 9 6:07 PM PT TBS

Game 3- Wednesday, October 11 6:07 PM PT TBS

Game 4*- Thursday, October 12 6:07 PM PT TBS

Game 5*- Saturday, October 14 6:20 PM PT TBS

*If necessary.



On paper, the Dodgers are the better team in this series. They won 16 more games than Arizona this season, due to having a better offense, rotation, and bullpen. However, baseball playoffs are extremely dumb and random and the Diamondbacks aren’t going to be an easy out. As the Dodgers found out last year, any team can be better than any other team for 3-5 games, and the Dodgers will need to not have their bats disappear as they did last October. Still, they should have enough to get it done this year…

…oh, just kidding, Arizona in 2.

About Alex Campos

I've been writing about the Dodgers since I graduated from Long Beach State, where I covered the Dirtbags in my senior year. I'm either very good or very bad at puns.