Arizona’s Walker feels at home at Dodger Stadium
Walker (0-0, 3.27 ERA) will face Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, a venue where the Arizona right-hander has looked awfully comfortable. It’s not unlike the entire Diamondbacks team, which has won 10 consecutive games over the Dodgers.
The 25-year-old native of Yucaipa, Calif., about 70 miles east of Dodger Stadium, sure seemed comfortable with the lay of the land at Chavez Ravine in 2017, his first year as a pitcher in the National League West.
Walker made two starts in L.A. last year, at opposite ends of the schedule, and made easy work of the Dodgers both times. In an April 16 start, Walker gave up one run over five innings, with seven strikeouts, and picked up the victory. And on Sept. 6 in Southern California, he again gave up one run, this time over six innings, and picked up another victory.
He faced the Dodgers once already this year, in an April 2 home game, and gave up three runs over five innings. In his most recent start, on April 8, he gave up one run over six innings to the Cardinals. The Diamondbacks won both games.
“I just went out there and attacked,” Walker told mlb.com, talking about the Cardinals game in particular, although he could have been referencing his 2018 attitude. “That’s kind of been my mindset coming into the season: Just go out there and attack with the fastball and get ahead, sprinkle my off-speed pitches in there, and just try to make them put the ball in play.”
Like Walker, Hill has two starts for his club, both of those against the Giants. He went five scoreless in an April 1 victory, but gave up three runs over four innings in an April 7 defeat in the Bay Area.
Hill is coming off a shaky spring training, but since he is a veteran, the Dodgers did not express extreme concern. Hill opened the season as the club’s No. 4 starter, and with a bevy of off days over the first two weeks, he has shifted to a rotation spot just ahead of staff ace Clayton Kershaw.
Hill’s first 10 innings of the season have earned him a 1-0 record with a 2.70 ERA, and have fallen in line with his statement that he was feeling better heading into Opening Day in 2018 than he did at the same time in 2017. Perhaps some of that had to do with adding a split-finger fastball this year.
“The way the ball is coming out of my hand, I’m way far ahead of where I was last year,” Hill said. “It’s a huge positive. To start that far ahead of where I was, and I hate to compare years, but I feel really good.”
Hill is just 1-5 in nine career starts against the Diamondbacks, with a 4.78 ERA. Walker is 2-1 in five career starts against the Dodgers with a 4.91 ERA.