The battle for NL West Supremacy starts tonight as the red-hot Los Angeles Dodgers travel to Denver to battle the first place Colorado Rockies. Both these teams are coming off huge series wins after the Rockies took advantage of an underachieving Cubs team and the Dodgers swept a Pirates team that looks more like potential sellers at the deadline with each disappointing loss. The Dodgers and Rockies lineups are both having great offensive seasons, but this series really comes down to some outstanding pitching match-ups over the next four days.
Although the Dodgers were thrilled with their recent sweep of the Pirates, it unfortunately did come at a steep price. Outfielder Andrew Toles tore his ACL while attempting to catch a fly ball that would have preserved the current ho-hitter starting pitcher Julio Urias was in the midst of. Toles will miss the remainder of the season, but the silver lining is current rookie of the year favorite Cody Bellinger is likely to stay with the club for the remainder of the year since he is currently the best hitting outfielder on the LA roster and injuries are starting to pile of for the Dodgers. Speaking of no-hitters, the Colorado Rockies pitcher German Marquez had a no-hitter going against the Cubs in the series finale yesterday until Kris Bryant was able to end it with a double in the 7th inning. Both the Dodgers and Rockies had success against two different underwhelming NL Central teams this week, but tonight starts a four game series which will either keep Colorado atop the NL West, or see a power shift with the Dodgers taking over first place in the division.
The Match-ups and likely starters look like this for the series:
Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA (LHP, 1-4, 4.04 ERA) vs Tyler Anderson, COL (LHP, 2-3, 6.69 ERA)
Thursday’s game might be the most important of the series since it could set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Ryu last pitched for LA on 4/30 when he struck-out nine Philadelphia batters and recorded the win before heading to the DL. Anderson is looking for his second win in a row after a tough start to the season that saw his ERA shoot up to 8.59 at one point, but his last outing saw him strikeout 10 Diamondbacks batters on 5/6. Each team will be looking to get the W in tonight’s contest and likely are pleased it’s two “question mark” pitchers that’ll face off in the series opener.
Clayton Kershaw, LA (LHP, 5-2, 2.40 ERA) vs Tyler Chatwood, COL (RHP, 3-4, 4.74 ERA)
Clayton Kershaw is 1-1 vs Colorado this season with a combined 16 strikeouts, while giving up 13 hits between the two contests. Chatwood has seen his numbers get better this season after 7 starts and has yet to face LA this season but only has 1 actual win against a team over .500 this season, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against a Dodgers lineup that is currently putting up more runs than any team in MLB. If Kershaw can dominate and get run support from the LA lineup, the odds heavily favor the Dodgers in game 2.
Alex Wood, LA (LHP, 3-0, 2.73 ERA) vs Kyle Freeland, COL (LHP, 3-2, 2.93 ERA)
Alex Wood vs Kyle Freeland could be the highlight match-up of this series since both players are off to fantastic starts this season. Wood looks like he finally reaching his potential and meeting expectations after battling injuries the past two seasons and was outstanding against Pittsburgh when he struck out eleven batters while only giving up two hits and extended his winning streak to three games. Freeland had a bad outing against the Cubs on Tuesday but has pitched very well against LA twice this season with a combined 9 strikeouts while giving up 8 hits. This game starts a two game stretch of very interesting pitching match-ups to closeout this series featuring promising young talent.
Julio Urias, LA (LHP, 0-0, 1.06 ERA) vs Antonio Senzatela, COL (RHP, 5-1, 2.86 ERA)
This is a great match-up to wrap up the series on Sunday since it’ll be the best young pitchers on each team facing off in the finale. Urias flirted with a no hitter earlier this week, although Manager Dave Roberts insists that LA is standing firm on limiting Urias’ pitch count and he likely wouldn’t have been kept in once he reached his max pitch count. Senzatela is coming off a solid performance against the Cubs and has won 5 of his 6 starts this season to help lead the Rockies to 1st place in the NL West. Neither of these pitchers have faced the opponents this season and this pairing could be a preview of a pitchers’ duel we may see for years to come in the NL West.
This is should be a fun series for MLB fans over the next four days featuring two dynamic offenses and stellar pitching staffs. Coors Field has always been know at a hitter’s park, but some of the best pitching in MLB resides on both rosters and will be showcased over the next four days. No doubt, with 10 more games between the two teams left to be played this season, things are just starting to get interesting in the NL West with a battle for 1st place this weekend which quite possibly an early playoff preview.