U-God is taking the series preview off, so I thought I'd give it a go. While fairly terrible at music references, I can quote movies with the best of ‘em. This gem of a title, if I may say, comes from the ridiculous (and awesome) early-nineties comedy L.A. Story. See it.
Anyway, the Dodgers have a healthy four-game lead in the NL West, sitting at 40-24, the best record in baseball. They can back that up that record, too, with 276 runs scored (middle of the pack) versus 224 allowed (2nd in the majors after the Nationals). That run differential is good for 3rd in the majors behind Texas and St. Louis. The boys in blue are coming off their own 2-1 series loss to the Angels, having been C.J. Wilson'd on Wednesday, but had an off-day yesterday to rest up. Let's hope they'll need it.
Lineup: Dee Gordon, SS; Elian Herrera, CF; Andre Ethier, RF; Bobby Abreu, LF; Juan Rivera, 1B; Jerry Hairston, 2B; Juan Uribe, 3B; A.J. Ellis, C.
Bench: James Loney, 1B; Tony Gwynn, CF, Matt Treanor, C.
Los Angeles has a ton of positional flexibility. I mean, just look at this depth chart. So, yeah, the lineup may be completely different than what I just posted. Don Mattingly has used 50 different batting orders in 63 games, and bully on him; he's got pretty solid options at almost every position. That may not extend to the lead-off position, though: Dee Gordon is not a typical lead-off man, mostly in that he doesn't hit and doesn't get on base. He does, however, have 20 stolen bases on the year. Grindy. Herrera hits for no power, but has been taking his walks. Ethier is the slugging-est of the Dodger regulars, the only one really making low, sustained booming noises in Matt Kemp's absence. He's having a fine year, hitting for a lot more power than his career norms outside of 2009. Abreu is still hanging around and contributing, although on the back of a slightly-raised BABIP. Both Juan Rivera and Jerry Hairston, subbing for Mark Ellis, still have jobs in this down economy. Hairston is actually doing very well in his 38 games this season, putting up a .390 wOBA. The culprit? BABIP, of course. Behind the plate, A.J. Ellis is putting up fine numbers, as is his backup, Treanor, but the latter's is a fluke. Tony Gwynn is a normal-sized human being, and that's not something you've heard before. He's a good defensive centerfielder, and his bat isn't too terrible coming off the bench. Loney will probably start against Humber, depending what Donny Matts wants to do. He's not very good, especially for a one-bagger in the NL.
Probable pitchers: We're going into the jaws of that shark from that old movie. The White Sox are putting up Chris Sale, of the world-famous Chris Sale Project, against Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw's numbers this year are very much inline with his career, and that's not good news for us. On top of striking out almost a quarter of the batters he faces, almost half of his balls in play go on the ground. He throws a devastating four-seamer, a slider and a pretty good curve. Sit fastball and see what you can do, I guess. At least that may work for Paulie.
Saturday features Philip Humber versus Chad Billingsley. Chad has been good, but he's giving up a few more homers than he's used to. His curveball has hurt him a bit this year, but he's getting a ton of whiffs with it, too. So lay off, boys. He also throws a four-seamer, a sinker and a cutter.
On Sunday our real stopper, Jose Quintana, is matching up with Chris Capuano. With great results so far this year, Capuano is exactly like a nice, aged Quintana. He's stranding a ton of batters and his BABIP is quite low. He's got a decent K-rate, but his walks are worrisome. It's the battle of the magic starters, basically. Capuano gets by on his sinker, but also throws a slider and a good changeup.
The Dodgers' closer is Kenley Jansen, with the ridiculous strikeout rate of 14.07 per nine innings. He's got the ol' reduced BABIP, too, but with that many strikeouts, it's sort have to be expected. I almost hope we can reach him, so I can see the monster I grabbed from free agency. I'm a regular negative nancy ‘round here, so I see us winning one game. Which one? I'm not sure. Let's say it starts with S and ends with ale. Lots of ale. We may need it this weekend.