Pitchers have things to prove in D-backs-Dodgers matchup
Arizona Diamondbacks right-hander Zack Godley will take the mound at Dodger Stadium on Saturday knowing that early-season starts in Los Angeles did not go exactly as planned last year.
He also knows his team will need some innings after the Diamondbacks and Dodgers played 13 innings Friday night in a game that lasted 6 hours, 5 minutes.
In Godley’s 2018 season, which had its fair share of positives, facing the Dodgers in Los Angeles wasn’t among them.
Godley started a career-best 32 games overall and set another career high with 15 victories last season, which began with an impressive outing against the Dodgers in Arizona on April 3, giving up one run over seven innings of a 6-1 victory.
A mere 12 days later, though, the Dodgers tagged him for six runs — five earned — in four innings in L.A., as Godley walked six and threw 93 pitches.
Another 3 1/2 weeks after that, Godley walked four more Dodgers batters and gave up another four runs in a start at Southern California, but the Diamondbacks offense came to the rescue in Arizona’s 8-5 victory.
His final numbers against the Dodgers last season: 1-2 with a 4.37 ERA in four starts. Over his career against Los Angeles, he is 2-3 with a 3.81 ERA in 12 appearances (eight starts).
His first crack at the Dodgers this season figures to be hard work. Los Angeles has shown a determined offense, hitting eight home runs on Thursday against Arizona, a major league record for a season opener.
Former teammate A.J. Pollock, now with the Dodgers, added another home run Friday, to go along with four hits. But Los Angeles scored just one run over the final 10 innings.
“You band together and you get off the ropes, stagger back into the middle of the ring and keep punching, and I know this team will do that,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “… I know that this team will be resilient. That’s what they’re built on.”
Resilient is also a decent way to describe Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers starter on Saturday. Maeda opens his fourth season in the Los Angeles starting rotation, but the last two seasons he ended the year in the bullpen.
That change in role had more to do with left-handed hitters having more and more success against the right-hander. In Maeda’s rookie season in 2016, lefties batted .247 against him with a .328 on-base percentage. Those numbers were .263/.322 in 2017 and .276/.349 in 2018.
This year, Maeda is fully incorporating a sinking changeup, which he first started using last season. He said his first goal is to win a World Series. On a personal note, he hopes the new pitch keeps him in the mix as a starter all year.
“It’s a pitch I can get swings and misses with,” Maeda said, according to the Koyodo News. “The changeup I had been throwing had been a contact pitch, to get batters to hit into easy outs. But now my strikeouts are increasing.”
In 13 spring innings, Maeda had 17 strikeouts to just one walk.
Last year against Arizona, he was 1-2 with a hefty 6.23 ERA. In 15 career appearances (12 starts) against the Diamondbacks, he is 4-5 with a 4.83 ERA, his highest ERA against any National League West opponent.
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