MLB Playoffs: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers NLDS prediction and preview

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Los Angeles Dodgers NLDS Preview

The Diamondbacks may have ended the regular season with a four-game losing streak, but they’re riding a two-game winning streak into the NLDS against the Dodgers. Arizona swept Milwaukee in pretty convincing fashion and the structure of the Division Series will allow them to put their best foot forward with Merrill Kelly in Game 1 and Zac Gallen in Game 2 with a day off between the first two games of the series for TV purposes.

 

Both series in the NL wound up being division rivalries, as the Brewers were unable to hold up as the No. 3 seed and the NL East actually had three of the six playoff teams. The Dodgers went 8-5 against the Diamondbacks, but Arizona only scored 47 runs in the 13 games (3.6 R/G). The Dodgers scored 72 runs (5.5). The teams actually played eight of their 13 games by April 9, so the majority of their season series was over pretty much before the season really got started.

Arizona finished 16 games behind the Dodgers in the division, but the D-Backs can look at the other NLDS series for inspiration. The Phillies finished 14 games behind the Braves last season and won the series in four games, so it can happen and has happened recently.

MLB Odds | MLB Betting Splits | MLB Matchups

MLB Playoffs Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

Diamondbacks +175 / Dodgers -205

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers schedule and how to watch

Game 1: Saturday October 7, 9:20 p.m. ET (TBS)
Game 2: Monday October 9, 9 p.m. ET (TBS)
Game 3: Wednesday October 11, TBD ET (TBS)
Game 4: Thursday October 12, TBD (TBS) (if necessary)
Game 5: Saturday October 14, TBD (TBS) (if necessary)

Pitching Matchups

(based on announcements and my guesses)

Game 1: Merrill Kelly vs. Clayton Kershaw
Game 2: Zac Gallen vs. Bobby Miller
Game 3: Ryan Pepiot vs. Brandon Pfaadt
Game 4: Clayton Kershaw vs. Merrill Kelly
Game 5: Zac Gallen vs. Bobby Miller

The Dodgers may not have a traditional starting staff in this series beyond Kershaw, as they could opt to go the opener route in front of either Miller or Pepiot or roll with a piggyback situation. Miller will start. Pepiot may not. But, the Dodgers, much like the Braves, are better equipped for a three-game series right now with the state of their rotations. I would expect Lance Lynn to not be on the NLDS roster, but I could very much see him on the NLCS one if the Dodgers get there.

Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers series preview

A lot of people will probably just gloss over this series. To be honest, after writing the other three previews, it did cross my mind not to give this matchup the due diligence it deserves. On paper, it clearly looks like the most lopsided of the four series. It may play out that way. Kelly’s history against the Dodgers is not good (I don’t believe in team vs. pitcher history because teams/players change so much, but it’ll be brought up a lot) and the Dodgers have a huge lineup advantage.

Despite my series bet on the Brewers, I felt throughout the season that they were a very vulnerable team come playoff time. Their offense had consistently been below league average all season and their ceiling felt very capped. The Dodgers have an elite offense and a very high ceiling, even with the pitching injuries. Credit to the Diamondbacks for advancing, but the Dodgers are on an entirely different level.

The Dodgers had a +207 run differential and Arizona had a -15 run diff. I don’t know if this is the biggest mismatch in this department for a Division Series, but it has to be pretty damn close. It is honestly hard to find any stats where the Diamondbacks match up well.

Offensively, the Dodgers banged out 249 home runs. Arizona hit 166. The Diamondbacks were one of the top teams in strikeout avoidance with a K% of 20.4%, but the Dodgers were only at 21.5% and had a much higher walk rate. Arizona had a 97 wRC+ and the Dodgers had a 116, where 100 is league average. Arizona did steal 166 bases to LA’s 105 and the Dodgers only had 29 caught stealings against 142 stolen bases. The Diamondbacks were way better at controlling the running game and do have a big advantage on the bases.

Despite numerous injuries and a suspension for Julio Urias, the Dodgers still had the better pitching numbers across the board. Gallen displayed the numbers of an ace throughout the season to help out Kelly and what was a really subpar rotation otherwise. The bullpen has gotten better as the season has gone along, but the specialists for the Dodgers are among the best in baseball. 

The Dodgers were third in reliever ERA and second in FIP, while Arizona was 18th in ERA and 21st in FIP. This is simply a matchup of an elite team against an average team.

Dodgers -205 looks light to me, if we’re being honest. That implies that the Dodgers win this series 67.21% of the time. I would expect it to happen more often than that. 

I also looked at the “Series Double” at DraftKings, where Dodgers to win Game 1 and win the series is +100. Unfortunately, you can’t parlay them because Dodgers Game 1 is -198 at time of publish and the series price is -205, which leads to +123 per our Parlay Calculator, but I think the Dodgers win Game 1 and also win this series. On principle, because I’m getting 23 cents worse of a number, I wouldn’t bet this, but it illustrates how much better I think the Dodgers are.

I also like Diamondbacks Under 17.5 Total Runs, given I don’t think this is a very long series. They scored 3.6 R/G against the Dodgers during the regular season. In the depressed run environment of the playoffs, I don’t see them scoring four runs per game and they’d need five games to even get over this number if they did.

Picks: Dodgers -205, Diamondbacks Under 17.5 Total Runs

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