Diamondbacks at Dodgers Series Preview

Diamondbacks at Dodgers Series Preview
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UpdateThe Dodgers have activated Alex Wood to take Ross Stripling's place on the roster. Wood will work out of the bullpen. Walker Buehler will be activated to start Wednesday's game. Here are the updated, and official, pitching matchups for the series:

Tues. 9/1, 6:40 p.m. PT: LHP Alex Young (4.70 ERA, 23 IP) vs. LHP Julio Urías (3.67 ERA, 27 IP)

Wed. 9/2, 6:40 p.m. PT: RHP Zac Gallen (2.09 ERA, 43 IP) vs. RHP Walker Buehler (4.32 ERA, 25 IP)

Thur. 9/3, 6:40 p.m. PT: RHP Luke Weaver (8.23 ERA, 27 1/3 IP) vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (1.80 ERA, 30 IP) 

The Dodgers may not have made any additions before Monday’s trading deadline, but yesterday’s flurry of activity will still impact the shape of the second half of their season.

That is primarily true because of the Padres’ aggressiveness. Entering Tuesday’s action in second place with a .595 winning percentage and the second-best non-Dodgers run differential in the majors (+43), the Padres added eight players via trade over the final three days of August, turning over nearly 30 percent of their active roster (28.6 to be precise). Most significantly, they topped off their rotation with COVID skeptic Mike Clevinger. They also upgraded at catcher by adding lefty Jason Castro and righty Austin Nola (while shipping out incumbent Austin Hedges), and added Mitch Moreland’s lefty bat to their DH rotation, speedy switch-hitting centerfielder Greg Allen to their bench, and imported Trevor Rosenthal and Mariners righties Dan Altavilla, Taylor Williams, and Austin L. Adams (the last of whom is close to returning from October ACL surgery) to their bullpen. Joining Hedges in going the other way are infielder Ty France, outfielders Josh Naylor and Edward Olivares, catcher Luis Torrens, former first-round pick Cal Quantrill, and seven minor leaguers, but none of their elite prospects.

[Follow Sports Illustrated’s Inside the Dodgers on Twitter.]

Elsewhere in the NL West, the third-place Rockies, whom the Dodgers will face this weekend, made a couple of depth moves by adding Orioles closer Mychal Givens, a nice upgrade to their bullpen, and glove-first outfielder Kevin Pillar. The Giants, whom the Dodgers won’t face again this season unless San Francisco sneaks into the playoffs (the Giants enter Tuesday a half game behind the Rockies for the final NL spot) largely stood pat, adding only lefty Anthony Banda to their already lefty-heavy bullpen.

More immediately, six of the Dodgers’ next nine games come against the Diamondbacks, who went from bad (last place, .400 winning percentage, -30 run differential) to worse at the deadline. The Diamondbacks dealt away centerfielder Starling Marte, who led Arizona’s everyday players in wins above replacement, to the optimistic Marlins; closer Archie Bradley to the Reds; Wednesday’s scheduled starter, Robbie Ray, to the Blue Jays; and injured lefty Andrew Chafin to the Cubs.

By coincidence, both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks donated a struggling starter to the Buffalo Blue Jays’ effort to back into this year’s expanded playoffs. Ray had a 7.84 ERA in seven starts on the season, allowed seven home runs in his first four starts, and walked 17 in 14 innings in his last three. The Dodgers got two players to be named later from the Jays for righty Ross Stripling, who had a 7.17 ERA in five August starts with 10 home runs allowed in just 21 1/3 innings on the month.

Stripling has two years of control remaining, so we’ll have to find out who those players to be named are before we can even begin to evaluate that trade. However, Stripling did seem unlikely to play a large role over the remainder of this season with Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin having pitched their way into the rotation and Walker Buehler eligible to return from the injured list this week. Buehler, who has been sidelined by a blister, threw more than 30 pitches in a bullpen session on Saturday and seems likely to return this weekend against the Rockies, which is when the Dodgers will next need a fifth starter. Given their three, well-distributed off-days this month, the Dodgers will only need a fifth starter twice more this season, though they’re more likely to use one as many as five times before trimming the rotation down to four men for the playoffs.

[Related: Padres Make Trade Deadline Blitz to Power Postseason Run, by Ian Casselberry.]

Speaking of rotations, with Ray now in Buffalo, it’s unclear how the Diamondbacks will line up their starters for this week’s series, though we do know that 26-year-old lefty Alex Young will start tonight against Julio Urías. Young held his own over 15 starts as a rookie last year, but opened this season in the bullpen. He moved into the rotation in mid-August, when Madison Bumgarner went down with a back injury, and will be making his fourth start of the season tonight. Young is a classic junkballing lefty with below-average velocity who only uses his four-seam fastball about 15 percent of the time. Instead, he leads with a cutter, curve, and changeup, and throws a sinker as often as the four-seamer. The Dodgers have faced two comparable lefty starters this season: the Padres’ Zach Davies and the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales. Against those two, they managed just three runs in 14 innings, going homerless, striking out 14 times and walking just twice. Young made two relief appearances against the Dodgers in July, and was similarly effective, with four strikeouts in two innings of work, though he did allow a home run to Max Muncy, who is 3-for-4 career against Young with two homers and a walk.

Here are the game times and other known starters for this series:

Tues. 9/1, 6:40 p.m. PT: LHP Alex Young (4.70 ERA, 23 IP) vs. LHP Julio Urías (3.67 ERA, 27 IP)

Wed. 9/2, 6:40 p.m. PT: TBA vs. LHP Clayton Kershaw (1.80 ERA, 30 IP)

Thur. 9/3, 6:40 p.m. PT: TBA vs. RHP Dustin May (2.83 ERA, 35 IP)

One of those two to-be-announced starters for Arizona is sure to be 24-year-old righty Zac Gallen, who has been far and away the Diamondbacks’ best starter this year. Gallen has a 2.09 ERA in 43 innings over seven starts on the season, with 47 strikeouts and a 1.02 WHIP. Entering Tuesday’s games, his 220 ERA+ is the eighth-best in the majors. Originally a Cardinals prospect, he was sent to the Marlins in the Marcell Ozuna trade, then acquired by the Diamondbacks at last year’s deadline straight-up for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm. Gallen throws in the low- to mid-90s with a curve, slider, and changeup and misses a fair number of bats with each of those secondary pitches. Against the Dodgers on July 31, he struck out nine while walking just one, holding L.A. to two runs over six innings in an Arizona win. That was the first in an active streak of six quality starts. He hasn’t allowed more than two runs in a game, or more than one home run in a game, all season and completed seven innings on fewer than 100 pitches in three of his last four starts.

As for exactly when Gallen starts, thanks to Monday’s off-day, the Diamondbacks can either move him and Luke Weaver up to Wednesday and Thursday, or they can leave Gallen on Thursday and insert a replacement for Ray on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, with Starling Marte gone, the Diamondbacks’ lineup against left-handed pitchers is likely to look something like this:

R – Tim Locastro (RF)

S – Ketel Marte (2B)

R – Christian Walker (1B)

L – David Peralta (LF)

S – Eduardo Escobar (3B)

R – Nick Ahmed (SS)

R – Andy Young (DH)

L – Jon Jay (CF)

R – Carson Kelly (C)

Against righty Dustin May on Thursday, expect to see right fielder Kole Calhoun leading off, Stephen Vogt catching, and either Jake Lamb (at first base or DH) or rookie Daulton Varsho (in left field or DH) replacing righty Andy Young in the lineup.