2017 NLDS Game 2 Preview: Dodgers Look To Solve Robbie Ray

2017 NLDS Game 2 Preview: Dodgers Look To Solve Robbie Ray

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks and Los Angeles Dodgers meet for Game 2 of the National League Division Series in a matchup between southpaws Rich Hill and Robbie Ray. The two enter Saturday’s start on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Hill last pitched Sept. 27 and used a simulated game this week to keep sharp. He downplayed the long layoff and instead put the emphasis on maintaining his usual focus and effort. Beyond potentially needing to shake off rust, Hill will look for better results than he had against the Diamondbacks during the regular season.

In four starts, he went 0-3 with a 5.03 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. Hill struck out 24, walked four and allowed four home runs in 19.2 innings. Three of the four outings came at Dodger Stadium.

As for Ray, he’s starting after last throwing 34 pitches in 2.1 innings out of the bullpen in the Wild Card Game. Ray deemed himself fully healthy for the start on short rest, and Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said there aren’t any restrictions in place.

The Diamondbacks figure to be in strong position to avoid falling behind 2-0 in the NLDS. In five starts against the Dodgers this season, Ray went 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 31.2 innings pitched. He set a career high with 14 strikeouts in the most recent of those five outings, which was at Dodger Stadium.

“We really haven’t cracked the code on Robbie Ray,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said this week. “We’re going to have our hands full. It’s just a matter of having the right plan and when he does make mistakes, we’ve got to be able to capitalize on it.

“He’s got power stuff, a hard fastball and breaking ball with depth at the back foot of the right-handers. It’s just compete, try to put a couple hits together and maybe hit one out of the ballpark. He’s been tough on us.”

Considering Ray is only three days removed from last pitching, Roberts acknowledged a patient approach is beneficial — to a certain extent. “I think there is a fine line between being passive as opposed to being aggressive in your zone,” he said.

“I think that the best hitters are aggressive in their zone. So, yeah, we understand the workload that he had a couple days ago and the stuff that he has. But we’re going to be aggressive, but ideally, yeah, you want to be in your zone.”

As expected, the Dodgers’ lineup for Game 2 features more right-handed batters. Among them is Kiké Hernandez, who is starting in left field and batting fifth. Hernandez is a career 7-for-26 off Ray, with one double, a triple, three home runs and five RBI.

Hernandez batted .270/.367/.579 with 13 doubles, 10 home runs, 20 RBI, a .390 wOBA and 144 wRC+ against left-handed pitching this season.

Logan Forsythe makes a second consecutive start, while Austin Barnes is behind the plate. Although Roberts lauded Yasiel Puig for his at-bat quality when facing Ray, Puig is batting eighth because of his general trouble in hitting southpaws.

Coming off a five-RBI night, Justin Turner is a lifetime .383/.493/.667 batter with six doubles, one triple, three home runs and 17 RBI in 19 postseason games. He’s hitting .475/.571/.825 through 13 NLDS games, and his batting average in the DS is the highest (minimum 40 plate appearances) in MLB history.

The Diamondbacks decided against allowing Jake Lamb to start against Clayton Kershaw in Game 1, but he’s at third base and batting seventh. Lamb is a career 2-for-4 off Hill, with one home run and three RBI.

The Dodgers can go up 2-0 in the NLDS for just the third time since the postseason expanded in 1995. They previously did so in 2008 against the Chicago Cubs, and 2009 in a matchup with the St. Louis Cardinals. Each of those series ended in a sweep.

Dodgers lineup:

CF: Chris Taylor
SS: Corey Seager
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Cody Bellinger
LF: Kiké Hernandez
2B: Logan Forsythe
C: Austin Barnes
RF: Yasiel Puig
P: Rich Hill

Diamondbacks lineup:

LF: David Peralta
CF: A.J. Pollock
1B: Paul Goldschmidt
RF: J.D. Martinez
2B: Daniel Descalso
C: Chris Iannetta
3B: Jake Lamb
SS: Ketel Marte
P: Robbie Ray