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Series Preview: Dodgers at Pirates

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Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Dodgers are really, really, really good.

I find myself fanboying out at their presence at PNC Park this week, sort of in the way national commentators lay it on thick and really annoy people. Sorry, I’ll try to keep that in check.

I’m bummed I won’t see Yu Darvish in person. I’m glad to see Cody Bellinger will likely be good to do this week.

Of course, the Dodgers aren’t a team you want to see on the Pirates’ schedule right now, not while they’re hanging by a thread in the National League Central race. Darvish’s absence is good for the Bucs, Bellinger’s likely return not so much. The Pirates have had some success versus Los Angeles the last few years, but the Dodgers whacked the Bucs pretty well this May.

Los Angeles had won six in a row before losing at Detroit on Sunday. The Pirates (60-64) won their last two to salvage a split in a four-game series with the Cardinals.

Season Series: 3-0 Dodgers

At Los Angeles

May 8: Dodgers 12, Pirates 1

May 9: Dodgers 4, Pirates 3, 10 innings

May 10: Dodgers 5, Pirates 2

Schedule

Monday, 7:05 p.m. - Alex Wood (14-1, 2.30 ERA) vs. Gerrit Cole (10-8, 4.04), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Tuesday, 7:05 p.m. - TBD vs. Jameson Taillon (7-5, 4.64), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. - Rich Hill (9-4, 3.54) vs. Trevor Williams (5-6, 4.71), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Thursday, 4:05 p.m. - Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-6, 3.45) vs. Chad Kuhl (6-8, 4.52), TV: AT&T SportsNet

Dodgers

87-35 (84-38 Pythag, 5.09 RS/G, 3.33 RA/G)

Offense

Unadjusted for park, the Dodgers are sixth in Major League Baseball in runs scored. By fWAR, they’re the second best offense in the majors. They’re led by Corey Seager (.309/.395/.514, 19 HR) and the amazing Justin Turner (.344/.434/.561, 17 HR). Whoever Chris Taylor is, he’s put up 4.5 fWAR and 17 homers. Cody Bellinger (.274/.356/.612, 34 HR) can pick up his NL Rookie of the Year trophy now. Bellinger suffered a mild right ankle sprain playing right field on Saturday and sat out Sunday’s game. He’s day-to-day and it doesn’t seem too serious. Curtis Granderson was still sitting around on the Mets roster, unclaimed by contenders, so the Dodgers snapped him up, just because. That allowed them to option the struggling Joc Pederson to Triple-A.

Pitching

I appreciate that the Dodgers are at least creative in their financial domination of baseball. Instead of just signing the biggest-name free agents like the 1995-2005-ish Yankees, they sign a bunch of useful pitchers knowing most will get injured at some point, and deploy the best five or so they have available at a given time, also making ample use of the new 10-day disabled list to get guys extended rest. That strategy doesn’t bode well for the Pirates’ hopes of picking up Rich Hill and Scott Kazmir types, as people had hoped at different points, however.

Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish, Grant Dayton, Kazmir and Brandon McCarthy are among the Los Angeles hurlers currently shelved, but the Dodgers have no need to rush anyone back with a 20-game divisional lead.

The Dodgers have allowed the fewest runs in the majors. The pitching staff ranks second in fWAR. Brock Stewart is a possibility to start in Darvish’s place. Alex Wood almost, sort of deserves that silly 14-1 record (9.36 K/9, 2.30 BB/9, 2.30 ERA, 2.70 FIP). Hill (10.72 K/9, 3.83 BB/9) throws a bunch of curveballs and is very fun to watch when healthy. Hyun-Jin Ryu missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 with shoulder and elbow injuries. Kenley Jansen has walked five batters this season (54 1-3 IP). Tony Watson has allowed four runs in five innings, including a three-run outing in Arizona on August 8, since being traded over from the Pirates.

Outlook

Not good.

A major strength of the Dodgers, though, is their depth, which doesn’t help them in as much in a short series. Also, I don’t think this has major bearing on professionals, but the Dodgers aren’t playing for as much as the Pirates are right now.

Poll

How does this series go?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    O-ver-rat-ed... Pirates sweep!
    (38 votes)
  • 11%
    3-1 Pirates
    (31 votes)
  • 18%
    2-2 split
    (49 votes)
  • 38%
    3-1 Dodgers
    (100 votes)
  • 17%
    Don’t be silly. Dodgers sweep.
    (45 votes)
263 votes total Vote Now