Fittingly enough, this National League Division Series will be fought between divisional rivals, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers. This Saturday night, the Dodgers will host game one of this intriguing series, where my prediction is for LA to defend their home field and cover a spread of -1.5.
Diamondbacks Vs. Dodgers Prediction
It’s been quite the rollercoaster of a season for the Diamondbacks, who were an early season surprise, before slumping midyear. They surged enough to make the playoffs, courtesy of an enormous slide by the Chicago Cubs, but they made the most of the opportunity in the Wild Card Round. Perhaps appropriately, the D-Backs fell behind in each of the two games of that series, but they were able to fight back and secure the win in each instance to secure a road sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers.
As per usual, Corbin Carroll was the star for Arizona; even when their top arm Zac Gallen let them down, he racked up a single and double in the clincher, after providing a huge homer in game one. He’s one of the faces of the next generation of baseball, and will be going up against one of the very best figures from the last era; legendary Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.
The three-time Cy Young award winner is part of a dying breed of one-team players, as at age 35 it looks like he’ll be a Dodger for life, and his talent is also positively timeless; he once again reached the All Star game and registered an ERA below 2.50. He’s pitched against Arizona three times already this year, two solid home performances across which he totaled 11 innings pitched and two earned runs, but he was hit pretty hard in a loss at Arizona. So, it’s probably a good thing for LA that he’s making this start at home. Overall, the Dodgers won the season series with eight wins in the 13 matchups between the two clubs, so the D-Backs will be looking to flip the script over the next week and pull off a massive series upset.
Arizona will start that pursuit with Merrill Kelly on the mound, after the team USA starter had a second consecutive strong season, following up his breakout 2022 with an ERA of 3.29 and a career-best 9.5 strikeouts per 9 innings of work. Kelly has thrown against the Dodgers four times this season, including a seven-run debacle at the end of August. He’ll need to be better to give his team a shot in the postseason, but unfortunately that’s not how I see this going. The Dodgers are part of an essentially ironclad upper class in this MLB, and with a lineup that’s simply too good to contain, they’ll be heading on to the next round, starting with a game one win.
Diamondbacks Vs. Dodgers Prediction: Dodgers -1.5 (+105)
Diamondbacks Vs. Dodgers Odds
The Dodgers are -200 favorites on the moneyline, compared to +165 for the Diamondbacks, but Arizona is -125 to cover a spread of +1.5. For a run scoring total of 8 runs, both sides are -110 to hit.
Diamondbacks Vs. Dodgers Matchups
Kelly has been excellent this season, but can he be at his best against an absolute juggernaut of a lineup and outduel a legend? Let’s take a look at some specific matchups below and see if experience or youth wins out.
Clayton Kershaw vs. Power Righties
The left-handed Kershaw has displayed a pretty decent platoon split this season, preferring strongly to face fellow lefties. He’s also struggled a bit with allowing barrels and thus home runs as he loses his fastball velocity, so that factor will be a big one to keep an eye on against an Arizona lineup centered around a few solid power righties.
Luckily enough for Kershaw, Carroll is a lefty who struggles against southpaws, so that’s a matchup that should go better for Kershaw than most pitchers. After Carroll, things start getting a bit concerning for the veteran. He’ll have to face switch hitter Ketel Marte, who smacked 25 homers on the year, and slightly prefers to hit against lefties. Next up are a pair of righties, Tommy Pham and Christian Walker, who hit a team-high 33 homers. After lefty Alek Thomas, Kershaw will run into another righty, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who smacked 24 homers himself this season.
Merrill Kelly vs. On-Base Hitters
Kelly did a good enough job limiting barrels and thus extra base hits and home runs, but his hard hit and walk rates were both too high this season, leading to a relatively elevated WHIP compared to his other excellent metrics. He’s going up against an LA team that can hit some homers, but definitely did not “live and die” by the long ball; they were second in the league in slugging, on base percentage, and walks, so they have plenty of bats in the lineup that can pick at Kelly’s weaknesses, a major reason I have them covering the -1.5 spread in my Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers prediction.
Kelly didn’t have much of a platoon split this season, but Freddie Freeman is a lefty that no pitcher really wants to face. He racked up a team-best OBP of .410, driven by a batting average of .331 and 72 walks. Conversely, Mookie Betts was right up there with an OBP of .408, but he walked 96 times and hit .307. That pair forms perhaps the toughest one-two punch in all of baseball, and an incredibly hard way to start the day for a pitcher who needs to limit baserunners. Will Smith is also no slouch as he reaches base at a .359 clip, and Max Muncy even walked 85 times this year. There’s no good way to approach this stacked LA lineup, and Kelly could have a very tough Saturday.
Diamondbacks Vs. Dodgers Starting Lineups
Diamondbacks Starting Lineup
RF C. Carroll L
2B K. Marte S
DH T. Pham R
1B C. Walker R
CF A. Thomas L
LF L. Gurriel R
C G. Moreno R
3B E. Longoria R
SS G. Perdomo S
Dodgers Starting Lineup
2B M. Betts R
1B F. Freeman L
C W. Smith R
3B Max Muncy L
DH J. Martinez R
CF J. Outman L
LF D. Peralta L
RF J. Heyward L
SS M. Rojas R