Los Angeles Dodgers: Bats needed behind Walker Buehler for first place

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 22: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches to the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 22: Walker Buehler #21 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches to the St. Louis Cardinals during the fourth inning at Dodger Stadium on August 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

After two great come from behind victories, the Los Angeles Dodgers square off with the Arizona Diamondbacks for sole possession of first place.

A lot of season is left to play and whichever team exits Sunday as the first place team in the NL West is not guaranteed to win the division. However, this Los Angeles Dodgers-Arizona Diamondbacks game still has some huge implications.

The two sides enter the contest tied for first place in the NL West with the Colorado Rockies trailing by half a game. Just 10 days ago, the Dodgers were over four games back in the division after being swept by the St. Louis Cardinals.

Now, the Dodgers are winners of seven of the last eight, which include two huge come from behind victories on Friday and Saturday.

On Friday, Enrique Hernandez tied the game in the seventh inning with a two-out, two-strike pinch-hit home run off Zack Greinke. The following inning, Justin Turner blasted a hanging breaking ball halfway up the left-field pavilion to take the lead.

The very next night, the Los Angeles Dodgers were trailing 0-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning. It looked to be another case of the offense laying an egg and the Clayton Kershaw not getting to enjoy the fruits of his labor.

That was until Matt Kemp sent a low breaking ball back into the pavilion off Archie Bradley for a three-run home run that ended up being the deciding blow. Kenley Jansen recorded the save in both appearances and the Dodgers are now tied with Arizona.

With the last two games in mind, today’s contest is big for the Dodgers, as the team could gain sole possession of first, but is also huge for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Another loss here could suck the life out of the Diamondbacks and give the Dodgers the confidence to blaze through the month of September, which includes nine combined games against the New York Mets, Cincinnati Reds and San Diego Padres — three of the four worst teams in the National League.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have a rough September similar to the Dodgers’ rough August, which put the team narrowly down in the division. Arizona has a two-game series against the Padres at home and a three-game set against San Diego to end the season.

Besides that, the Diamondbacks play the Atlanta Braves, Rockies, Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, Rockies again and the Dodgers, in that order. That is tough.

Enough of the chit-chat about how the Dodgers can win the NL West. Let’s get into our Los Angeles Dodgers Beat the Streak selections for today’s first-place deciding matchup.

Sarah’s pick — Current streak 0: Enrique Hernandez

My pick for today is Kiké Hernandez. I’m not picking Hernandez based off any statistical evidence, but because after last night, I’d like to think (or hope, at least) the offense is going to get hot.

Hernandez made a great play at second last night, and who knows, maybe his defensive success will spark hits, and even runs scored. Ever since Game 5 of last years NLCS, Hernandez has been a pretty solid hitter and has had great success as a Dodger. As the Dodgers try and win the series and overtake sole possession of first, let’s hope Hernandez’ talents at the plate continue.

Jason’s pick — Current streak 0: Manny Machado

The Los Angeles Dodgers are facing an arm that is having a bit of a resurgence in Clay Buchholz. Although the sample size is relatively small (87 innings pitched, 14 starts) Buchholz does carry a 2.07 ERA into the contest.

The Dodgers are due for an offensive breakout and could get that due to the unfamiliarity with Buchholz. Instead of trying to grind him out like someone they have seen countless times, the Dodgers should be trying to jump on Buchholz early to fluster him and get back into that Arizona bullpen.

However, I am going to go with someone that is very familiar with Buchholz, someone that played in the AL East with him, Manny Machado.

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Machado has been great for the Dodgers as of late and has been worth the five prospect package that the Dodgers sent the Baltimore Orioles. In today’s afternoon game, the ball is going to fly a bit farther and Machado is going to have a multi-hit contest.