The month of May in the NL West begins with a clash between the reigning division champs and the team currently in first place. The Los Angeles Dodgers hope to get it going in the desert as they visit the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Los Angeles Dodgers are big favorites, at -200 on Tuesday.
The Diamondbacks took the first game of the four-game series on Monday night, giving them the best record in the National League at 20-8. While Arizona hasn’t swept a team since taking three in a row from the Dodgers the first week of April, the D-Backs have won every single series they’ve played this season.
Meanwhile, Monday’s loss for the Dodgers was their third in a row and their sixth in their last seven games. A week ago, it looked as though the Dodgers were finally climbing out of their hole. But after another losing stretch, Los Angeles is four games under .500 and eight games behind the Diamondbacks in the standings.
The reason for the lopsided line on Tuesday’s game is Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw. In six starts this season, the lefty is just 1-4, but he has a 2.84 ERA, so he’s not been the problem for the Dodgers early in the season. However, he’s not quite been himself lately. In his past two starts, Kershaw has allowed seven runs over 12 innings. For most pitchers, that would be acceptable, but for Kershaw, that equates to a slump.
The silver lining is that he’s been dominant against most of Arizona’s hitters. The current Diamondbacks roster is hitting a combined .184 against him. David Peralta’s 3 for 11 is the best any Arizona hitter has fared against Kershaw in his career. That being said, the Diamondbacks are capable of going off on any given day, and that includes Kershaw.
Opposing Kershaw will be Matt Koch (pronounced like cook). Despite coming up as a rather unheralded prospect, Koch has been productive for the Diamondbacks in short stints the last few years. However, with Tijuan Walker out long-term and Robbie Ray also on the DL, Arizona will need him to fill a spot in the starting rotation for the foreseeable future.
The good news is that Koch has pitched well in his first two starts of the season. Against both the Padres and Phillies, he gave the Diamondbacks six strong innings, giving up a total of just three runs on eight hits over those two starts. On Tuesday, he’ll be facing a Los Angeles lineup that just lost Corey Seager, and is still playing without both Logan Forsythe, Yasiel Puig, and Justin Turner. Outside of Yasmani Grandal and Matt Kemp, no one on the Dodgers has had a particularly good season thus far.
Don’t Doubt the Ace
The Diamondbacks are no doubt the better team, but it’s tough to pick Koch over Kershaw. The Los Angeles lefty has faced the Diamondbacks twice this season, striking out 18 over 13 innings and allowing just three runs on six hits between the two starts. It’s almost unfathomable that he would go to 1-5 on the season, so he’ll power the Dodgers to a much-needed win Tuesday night. Bet the Los Angeles Dodgers -200 over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.