Fresh off a fascinating Wild Card game against the Rockies, the Diamondbacks are set to face another old NL West foe in the NLDS: the 104-win Dodgers. For most of the season, the boys in blue have been a true juggernaut; before their late-season collapse, some had them pegged as one of the greatest teams of all time.

Since then, though, things have changed: the Dodgers are probably still the best team in baseball on paper, but the Diamondbacks made the most impactful midseason acquisition of any team when they added “Just Dingers” J.D. Martinez, who has slugged .741 since coming to Arizona. While the Dodgers added their own superstar in Yu Darvish—who’ll pitch Game 3 of the series—and have better 2017 performers almost across their entire lineup, the team hasn’t fired on all cylinders since July.

In five games, anything can happen, and don’t forget that the Snakes went 11-8 against Los Angeles during the regular season. Will we see the first step in a Dodgers march to their first World Series in decades, or will the upstart Diamondbacks prove that, like Charlie, they’re the wildest of wild cards?




LF-L David Peralta (.293/.352/.444/.283, 3.7)

CF-R Chris Taylor (.288/.354/.496/.309, 5.7)

CF-R A.J. Pollock (.266/.330/.471/.286, 2.8)

SS-L Corey Seager (.295/.375/.479/.307, 5.7)

1B-R Paul Goldschmidt (.297/.404/.563/.328, 6.4)

3B-R Justin Turner (.322/.415/.530/.347, 5.9)

RF-R J.D. Martinez (.303/.376/.690/.337, 3.4)

1B-L Cody Bellinger (.267/.352/.581/.331, 4.8)

C-R Chris Iannetta (.254/.354/.511/.300, 2.9)

C-S Yasmani Grandal (.247/.308/.459/.272, 4.8)

2B-R Brandon Drury (.267/.317/.447/.262, 1.2)

RF-R Yasiel Puig (.263/.346/.487/.296, 3.6)

3B-L Jake Lamb (.248/.357/.487/.293, 3.4)

2B-L Chase Utley (.236/.324/.405/.268, 1.3)

SS-S Ketel Marte (.260/.345/.395/.267, 1.4)

LF-L Curtis Granderson (.212/.323/.452/.285, 2.0)

I’m not sure any lineup in the National League is as solid as the Dodgers’ everyday set. It’s built like a fortress, and the only potential weak spot is left fielder Curtis Granderson, who’s hit miserably since coming to the Dodgers in August. The first six hitters in the Dodgers’ lineup, anchored by Justin “fourth-best hitter in baseball this year” Turner, is an elite mix of bat-to-ball skill, pitch-wasting approach, and epic power. Against southpaw pitchers, this team relies on several bench pieces, but aside from Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin, the Diamondbacks are short on lefties.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks lean a bit heavier on a pair of critical cogs that drive the team’s offense: Martinez and Goldschmidt. Enough ink has been spilled over Martinez’s enormous second half in Arizona, but Goldy is still the team’s most dangerous weapon. After struggling in his last few games before the Wild Card game, Goldschmidt’s three-run bomb off Jon Gray set the tone for Arizona’s victory. He’s steadier and stronger than a steam train, and his career splits against left-handed pitching are just the thing to help shut down the Clayton Kershaw/Rich Hill/Alex Wood triumvirate.

On the other side, Lamb is a bit of a soft spot against those same lefties, but for the most part the Diamondbacks have a consistent, slightly above-average set of hitters. You might expect some shuffling of Drury and Daniel Descalso when Darvish is on the mound, but with the Dodgers being so lefty-heavy, this is probably the most likely lineup for most games.




C-R Jeff Mathis (.215/.277/.323/.207, 1.3)

C-R Austin Barnes (.289/.408/.486/.325, 4.4)

UT-L Daniel Descalso (.233/.332/.395/.256, 0.0)

2B-R Logan Forsythe (.224/.351/.327/.262, 1.9)

IF-R Adam Rosales (.225/.260/.353/.217, -0.2)

UT-R Enrique Hernandez (.215/.308/.421/.265, 2.3)

OF-L Gregor Blanco (.246/.337/.357/.247, 0.0)

OF-L Andre Ethier (.235/.316/.441/.271, 0.0)

PR-R Chris Owings (.268/.299/.442/.266, 2.1)

C-R Kyle Farmer (.300/.300/.350/.215, -0.1)

Here’s where things get very, very ugly for Arizona. Where the Diamondbacks have a good-enough bench with solid defensive players, the Dodgers have three players who would be starters on most teams, including the Diamondbacks. Barnes has busted out in a big way in 2017, and is a savvy on-base machine as well as being a good defensive catcher who can play the middle infield in a pinch. Both Forsythe and Hernandez thrive against left-handed pitching, and will start in the games where Ray or Corbin go. And Andre Ethier, one of the longest-tenured single-team players in baseball, is pretty much the prototypical righty-mashing pinch-hitting option at this point in his career.

As mentioned before, the Arizona reserves do not have much offensive firepower. Mathis will start occasionally in order to get his remarkable defense into the game, and on those days Chris Iannetta can be a potent bench bat. But Descalso, Rosales, and Blanco are unlikely to put any shivers into the bellies of the Dodgers relief corps. This team will have to rely primarily on their starters, with their flexible bench dudes on standby.

Starting Pitchers (IP, ERA, DRA, WARP)



Game 1

RHP Taijuan Walker (157.3, 3.49, 4.17, 2.5)

LHP Clayton Kershaw (175.0, 2.31, 3.30, 4.4)

Game 2

LHP Robbie Ray (162.0, 2.89, 3.61, 3.5) (unofficial)

LHP Rich Hill (135.7, 3.32, 4.16, 2.1)

Game 3

RHP Zack Greinke (202.3, 3.20, 3.00, 5.8)

RHP Yu Darvish (186.7, 3.86, 3.08, 5.2)

Game 4 (if necessary)

RHP Zack Godley (155.0, 3.37, 3.14, 4.2) (unofficial)

LHP Alex Wood (152.3, 2.72, 3.44, 3.6)

Game 5 (if necessary)

Ray (unofficial)

Kershaw (unofficial)

Beyond all belief, I might say that the starting pitching mix is almost a wash … if it weren’t for that pesky Wild Card game that cost the Diamondbacks a Zack Greinke NLDS start and perhaps a second Robbie Ray outing. The trio of Ray, Greinke, and Godley have been terrific this season, and stand toe-to-toe with the best the Dodgers can muster, especially since Kershaw has looked more human since returning from the disabled list. Ray also has the advantage of being a lefty, which is the type of pitcher the Dodgers have struggled most against this season.

Then again, it’s hard to put the Dodgers’ top four of Kershaw, Hill, Darvish, and Wood below any team’s four best starters and say that Los Angeles is at a disadvantage. On raw stuff, this is the best combo in baseball. The Dodgers are very likely to mix and match from their depth more than the Diamondbacks, and we shouldn’t be surprised to see the team get creative in the use of their foursome if the series stretches out. The big question here is if any of the team’s late-season struggles will continue into October, but I wouldn’t bet against the raw talent of the Dodgers’ rotation.

Relief Pitchers (IP, ERA, DRA, WARP)



RHP Fernando Rodney (55.3, 4.23, 3.11, 1.3)

RHP Kenley Jansen (68.3, 1.32, 2.34, 2.2)

RHP Archie Bradley (73.0, 1.73, 3.71, 1.2)

RHP Brandon Morrow (43.7, 2.06, 3.17, 1.0)

RHP David Hernandez (55.0, 3.11, 3.98, 0.7)

LHP Tony Watson (66.7, 3.38, 5.63, -0.3)

LHP Patrick Corbin (189.7, 4.03, 4.60, 2.0)

LHP Tony Cingrani (42.7, 4.22, 5.25, 0.0)

RHP Jimmie Sherfy (10.7, 0.00, 4.22, 0.1)

RHP Pedro Baez (64.0, 2.95, 5.17, -0.0)

LHP Jorge De La Rosa (51.3, 4.21, 5.06, 0.1)

RHP Ross Stripling (74.3, 3.75, 4.03, 1.0)

LHP Andrew Chafin (51.3, 3.51, 3.60, 0.9)

RHP Kenta Maeda (134.3, 4.22, 3.89, 2.5)

Open questions, ahoy! The Dodgers have an enviable one-two punch at the back of their ‘pen, and that’s probably enough to give the team a distinct advantage over the Diamondbacks. Jansen is arguably the best closer in the game, and Morrow has been electric this season. Until Morrow ultimately breaks again, the Dodgers should have the eighth and ninth inning handled as well as any team does. Beyond that, the Dodgers’ ‘pen is your requisite bundle of uncertain performances and pitchers who are yet to prove their full worth as part of the “Blue Shield.”

Deadline acquisitions Watson and Cingrani will be the only two lefties in the ‘pen with Luis Avilan out of commission, and Watson has struggled this season, while Cingrani has been quite good in L.A. Neither is a lights-out option. Maeda might be the biggest question, as it remains to be seen how successful his transition to the bullpen could be. While one should expect him to be good, he’ll also be the guy called on if someone like Hill or Wood gets beat up early.

Rodney is perhaps the most nerve-wracking closer in baseball, but that masks the fact that on the regular, he’s just fine; though not a relief ace and prone to blowups, when looked at in the aggregate, he’s above average. While Bradley and Sherfy have been incredibly resistant to allowing runs, our DRA metric thinks that they might be a bit over their heads right now. I don’t think anyone questions that Bradley has been something near a revelation in the bullpen (and he can hit a little!), but I’m certain that Dodgers fans sit a little more comfortably when Jansen and Morrow come in, as opposed to Diamondbacks fans twitching a little under the auspices of Rodney and Bradley. Corbin could be a difference-maker in the middle innings as the team’s long man, especially given the Dodgers’ struggles against lefties, but he could also find himself in the rotation and Godley in his bullpen spot.

As always, the playoffs are the best time to bemoan Baez’s tendency to make a game slow to a molasses drop. If I never see him pitch again, it will be too soon.


First-year manager Torey Lovullo has earned praise for his work with the clubhouse, and is a contender for NL Manager of the Year. He has a slight reputation for riding his starters instead of interfering with changes. Dave Roberts has already had his ups and downs with the Dodgers, but is generally seen as a good hand and more than willing to follow the front office’s lead when it comes to being proactive about swaps and switches. There’s a little bit of a chicken-and-egg issue here, as both managers’ strategic background plays to their team’s strengths, so I’d be hard-pressed to give one team a strong advantage. Look for Lovullo to resist the urge to tinker, and for Roberts to adjust to give him team every possible advantage.


Surprisingly, the Dodgers led all of baseball in BP’s Park-Adjusted Defensive Efficiency (PADE) metric, turning about three percent more balls in play into outs than one would expect from an average team. I’d argue that the individual pieces on the roster don’t often stand out as superior defenders—Turner and Puig might be the best of the bunch—but the team as a whole is fine. Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have a more pedestrian PADE (a league-average-ish 0.25) but a few distinctly superior defenders. Goldschmidt and Pollock are among the best at their positions, Mathis is an asset, and even Greinke is an ace with the glove as well as on the bump. I’d perhaps give the advantage to the Diamondbacks, PADE be damned, if it weren’t for those pesky catcher stats.

If you’d like to fold all-around catcher run-prevention value under the “defense” header, then one must give props to the incredible framing skill of Grandal and Barnes behind the dish for Los Angeles. Grandal has been one of the best framers in baseball for the past few years, and Barnes is no slouch himself. While Mathis gets credit for working with pitchers and providing good all-round defense, if BP’s framing metrics get it right, then the Dodgers have a real advantage on that part of the run prevention scale.


If you were to go by the raw numbers and the year-long stats, then it’s hard not to give the edge to the 104-win Dodgers team that finished the year with the best winning percentage in baseball and the best third-order winning percentage in the NL. They have a stronger pitching staff, a deeper team, and perhaps a better lineup. However, the Diamondbacks are well constructed to take a few games off the Dodgers, given that their team’s best bats can eat up left-handed pitching and the combo of Ray and Greinke could chew up the Dodgers.

I’m very, very tempted to call for a Diamondbacks upset here, especially coming off L.A.’s late-season struggles, but that might be giving too much weight to narrative over the numbers. Since I’d put the Dodgers ahead off of Game 1’s Walker-Kershaw matchup, I have to go Dodgers in four, but if it gets to a Game 5 showdown between Ray and Kersh, all bets are off.

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