The Dodgers did not expect to be in third place at this point in the season. The consensus World Series favorite added Mookie Betts to an already potent lineup, and the rotation has been a consistent strength for years. However, the Dodgers lost three starting pitchers to injury to start the season, and the organizational depth has not been developed enough to replace the experience. The Dodgers get a shot in the arm on Sunday against the Diamondbacks with the return of Clayton Kershaw, who is coming off a back injury that shut him down during Spring Training 2.0.
The Diamondbacks find themselves in last place in the NL West at 3-6. After a series opening split against the Dodgers, the Dbacks dropped game three setting up a must win between the NL West rivals. Arizona’s offense has struggled to score runs, scoring a season high five runs in the first win of the series. The Dbacks are hitting just .206 on the season, with only two home runs. The lack of production makes it difficult for a pitching staff that is less than dominant.
Kershaw Makes Long Awaited 2020 DebutThe Dodgers rotation just got a shot in the arm with the return of Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw’s health will be key to how the rotation handles the remaining 51 games on the schedule. Kershaw gets a good opportunity in his first start, facing a team that has historically hit just .206 against the lefty, with 41 strikeouts in 136 at bats. The question is how deep Kershaw will go in the game, because the bullpen has been somewhat suspect in the early going.
Offensively, the Dodgers are looking for some production from Cody Bellinger, who has been slumping to start the season. The Dodgers sat Bellinger on Saturday, hoping that boosts his performance Sunday. Bellinger has two hits in four at bats against Arizona starter Merrill Kelly, with one of those hits being a home run. Even if Bellinger continues to struggle, the rest of the lineup should be able to carry the load.
Diamondbacks Turn to Kelly in Hopes of Series SplitMerrill Kelly faces a tough Dodger lineup fresh off a season opening performance that saw the righthander pitch 7.2 innings of one run ball in a victory against the Rangers. Of course, the Dodger lineup is a bit more formidable, but Kelly held the Dodgers to three runs in each of his starts against them in 2019. The question is can the offense give him some runs of support.
So far, the offensive woes for Arizona have been many. The Diamondbacks simply cannot get men on base, and cannot score them when they get on. The lack of power (two home runs) complicates matters. Christian Walker could be a big part of the solution. He is the lone Diamondback to have considerable success against Kershaw, hitting four home runs in 11 plate appearances.
- Diamondbacks are 6-2 in last 8 home games
- Diamondbacks are 8-1 in last nine home games against left handed starter
- Dodgers are 13-3 in last 16 road games
- Dodgers are 8-2 in last 10 road games versus right handed starters