The Los Angeles Dodgers have traveled to northern California to face off with their division rivals for the 2,376th time to start a three-game series. The San Francisco Giants lead the all-time series by a margin of 34 games, but I believe they will lose at least two out of three games this weekend.
The Giants have been on a recent slump, having only won a single game in their last 10. On the contrary, the Dodgers have been hot, winning 10 out of their last 12 games and moving to as high as a tie for second in the NL West in that span.
The Dodgers have not lost a series since visiting the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16. Nevertheless, it will not be an easy task for either team to pull off a series win.
This season, the Giants have been strong at home with a record of 24-15 while the Dodgers have struggled on the road, only winning 15 out of 38 games. But it is still possible for the Dodgers to pull this off. Let’s look at the probable pitching matchups.
The series opens tonight with what will likely be the pitcher’s duel of the series. The Dodgers are expected to send out international rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu to face off against cagy veteran Matt Cain.
Ryu has been outstanding this season with a 6-3 record and a 2.83 ERA while Cain has been a bit underwhelming. The Giants’ hard-throwing right-hander has only earned a 5-4 record with a hefty ERA of 4.29. However, the stats seem to lean in Cain’s favor as can be seen by the following tweet:
Via @eliassports Matt Cain is 5-0 in last 11 starts vs LAD. 2 other Giants unbeaten in 11 straight starts vs Dodgers: Mathewson & Maglie
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 5, 2013
With all that being said, I believe that Ryu has a decent chance to best Cain tonight. The key will be to get Cain out of the game early enough to wreak havoc on the struggling Giants bullpen.
On Saturday night, the Giants are expected to send out Madison Bumgarner, who has been their best starting pitcher this year. Bumgarner boasts an 8-5 record and a respectable ERA of 3.08. He also gets nearly four runs of support from his offense per start, second on the team behind Barry Zito.
The Dodgers will send out Stephen Fife, a young righty who has been alternating from the majors to the minors for the past few years. Fife has gone 3-2 with a 2.83 ERA in his seven starts this year, but the reality of the situation is, Bumgarner has the definite advantage. This game will be the easiest for the Dodgers to lose.
Headed into the final game of the series, the Dodgers only need to have taken one of the first two games in order to clinch the series. I say this with confidence because Clayton Kershaw will be throwing for the Dodgers in the finale.
Granted, Kershaw does not win every game he plays in, but we have to look at the facts here. The Giants are expected to counter Kershaw with the not-so-intimidating Chad Gaudin. This reliever-turned-starter has struggled with injury already this year and only has four starts. Furthermore, Kershaw has only allowed 24 total runs in 19 career starts versus the Giants.
As long as Kershaw gets the job done and the Dodgers can either perform well against Cain or steal one away from Bumgarner, Los Angeles will come away with another series win.