In the span of 10 games from June 7-June 18, the Dodgers swept the Cincinnati Reds twice, and won a series against the World Series runner-up Cleveland Indians. Los Angeles won nine of their 10 games in that successful stretch of the schedule. More importantly, they placed themselves in prime position to pounce on the Colorado Rockies.
The National League (NL) Western Conference-leading Rockies sit only a half game ahead of the Dodgers as the two are set to meet for a weekend series in Los Angeles. Colorado also found success in the same span of games, winning nine of their 12 matches in that time.
The last time the Dodgers faced the Rockies, they split a four game series in Colorado. Los Angeles looks to jump out of the gate by starting their only undefeated pitcher, Alex Wood. The first time Wood faced the Rockies, he fanned 10 batters in a 4-0 shutout. Since then, he has allowed only three runs in three wins, posting an ERA of 1.90.
As good as Wood has been, Clayton Kershaw has been the Dodgers’ shining star, a role the ace pitcher has been in throughout his entire Los Angeles career. He allowed just two earned runs and no home runs in the Dodgers’ 6-2 win over Colorado on May 12. Kershaw finished their successful 10-game stretch with an ERA of 2.23. The nine wins he has amassed in that time leads the team.
The combination of Wood, Kershaw, and Brandon McCarthy will have to find a way to slow down the Colorado batters. Both Mark Reynolds and Nolan Arenado had a total of 55 RBIs after their 12-game span. Charlie Blackmon was only one behind with 54. With this much production, it’s no surprise the Rockies are second in the NL in both hits (679), and runs scored (383).
Fortunately for Los Angeles, their ability to stop runners from scoring is one of their best traits. After their last game with the Reds, the Dodgers had only allowed 250 runners to score, the highest mark in the NL. Catcher Yasmani Grandal leads the way on defense, with 498 putouts as of June 18.
Los Angeles’ offense has been orchestrated by rookie phenom Cody Bellinger. He leads the team in both RBIs, at 43, and home runs, at 19. With the success has come some errors, as Bellinger has also tallied the most strikeouts with 64. Bellinger’s breakout, along with the rest of the Dodgers’ batters has allowed the team to total 592 hits and 348 runs.
Colorado’s defense is built to take on an offense as potent as Los Angeles. The Rockies lead the NL in fielding percentage (.989) and come in third in putouts (1,930). Reynolds proves to be a threat on defense as well as offense, leading the Rockies with a .997 fielding percentage, as well as 568 putouts.
The Dodgers will also have to face the Rockies’ best pitchers in this series. Los Angeles will first see Kyle Freeland, who leads Colorado in ERA with 3.42. Then comes Tyler Chatwood, who has recorded 74 strikeouts, leading the Rockies in this category. The Dodgers end the series against German Marquez, who has allowed just 25 earned runs and only six home runs in 10 starts.
Los Angeles and Colorado are two teams that have very few flaws. Both are likely to make the NL Playoffs, so they are jockeying for the NL West crown to assure home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Dodgers can take a big step in this goal with a regular season win this weekend against the Rockies.
Baseball fans only have three more opportunities to see these two powerhouses go head to head in the regular season. It’s a matchup that should be must-see TV. When the postseason rolls around, it’s very likely we will see either Los Angeles host Colorado in the divisional round, or vice versa. This weekend will go a long way in deciding who hosts who.