The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are set to renew their longtime rivalry in the NLDS beginning at 6:37 PM PDT on Friday night. It was an amazing NL West race this season by the 107-win Giants and 106-win Dodgers. The race came down to the final game of the season when each team scored ten or more runs to secure victory. The Giants won the NL West division over the second-place Dodgers by one game. The Dodgers had to win a Wild Card matchup against the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday night. With ace Max Scherzer already used in the thrilling walk-off Wild Card victory, veteran righty Walker Buehler will be on the mound for the Dodgers. The Giants counter with a potential breakout star hurler in righty Logan Webb.
The Giants have won the season series against the Dodgers. In 19 games against the Dodgers, the Giants won ten of them. Having said that, the Dodgers have outscored the Giants 80-78. 11 of those 19 games were decided by two runs or less – six were decided by one run. Two games were won via a walk-off hit. So it looks like the Dodgers and Giants in the NLDS will be an exciting series. The two best records in baseball, and one of the oldest rivalries, are going head-to-head.
Buehler to Start Game One for Dodgers
Walker Buehler has become one of the premier pitchers in Major League Baseball. The 27-year-old has pitched to a 2.47 ERA in 207 2/3 innings this season. He also struck out 212 batters, which is 9.2 batters per nine innings. In addition, his WHIP is under 1.00 for the third time in his career at 0.968 this season. Buehler averages only 2.3 walks and 6.5 hits per nine innings this season. He has never given up more than 20 home runs in a season. This season he gave up 19 home runs and averaged 0.8 homers given up per nine innings. Buehler’s batting average against was only .199 this season.
He also saw a rise in his ground ball percentage and a fall in his hard-hit percentage this season. His OPS against is the second-lowest of his career and he also pitched the most innings of his career. The only slight on his performance is that his strikeout rate dropped this season from previous seasons. But Buehler has become the ace of the Dodgers.
Buehler also has amassed great playoff numbers in his young career. Believe it or not, he has 61 1/3 innings pitched in the playoffs and he just turned 27-years-old. In his career, Buehler has a 2.35 ERA and 0.995 WHIP in the postseason. He averages 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings in the playoffs, which is above his 9.9 career season average. Walker’s hits allowed average is also lower in the playoffs than in the season. In the playoffs, he averages 5.7 hits per nine innings versus 6.8 in the regular season. Buehler does walk batters at a higher clip in the playoffs, however. His playoff walk rate is 3.2 per nine innings while it is only 2.3 in the regular season for his career.
Buehler Versus Giants This Season
One of the keys to victory for both the Dodgers and Giants in game one of the NLDS will be the starting pitching. Buehler was excellent against the Giants this season with a 2.19 ERA and 0.97 WHIP in 37 innings. Walker also averaged eight strikeouts and 2.2 walks per nine innings against the Giants this season. But there was one game against the Giants in San Francisco that Buehler would like to have back. On September 5th, Buehler gave up six earned runs on seven hits and a walk in a 6-4 loss to the Giants. Walker’s ERA rose from 2.05 to 2.31 and it was the start of the likely end to his Cy Young bid. Prior to that game, Buehler’s ERA against the Giants this season was 0.79 and his WHIP was 0.82 in 34 innings.
You can bet that Walker will be focused on his first five starts against the Giants this season, as opposed to his final start when he takes the mound on Friday.
Webb to Make Playoff Debut for Giants
As mentioned earlier, Logan Webb has broken out this season for the Giants. Webb has amassed a 3.03 ERA in 148 1/3 innings this season. His WHIP is the lowest of his career at 1.106. In addition, Logan has only allowed 0.5 home runs per nine innings. Webb’s strikeout rate is 9.6 per nine innings, which is 158 strikeouts in his 148 1/3 innings. His walk rate is also low. It is only 2.2 walks per nine innings, which is also a career-best. In fact, his innings pitched, ERA, strikeouts, strikeout rate, hits per nine innings, home run rate, and FIP were all career bests. Webb’s batting average against is .234 this season and his OPS against is .622. But where Logan Webb really stands out is his ground ball percentage, which is 60.9% this season.
Webb Versus Dodgers This Season
The 24-year-old starter does not yet have any playoff experience, but he does have a solid season in the books. In addition, he has put up some great numbers against the Dodgers this season. In three games, he has a 2.25 ERA and 0.69 WHIP. Dodgers hitters are batting only .127 with a .418 OPS against Webb this season. In addition, Webb has 17 strikeouts in 16 innings, which is 9.6 strikeouts per nine innings. But the Dodgers’ batting average on balls in play is only .158 while the rest of the league’s BABIP is .312. This suggests that the Dodgers probably had some bad luck. But Webb has been awesome against the Dodgers this season nonetheless.
The Dodgers and Giants in the NLDS
So it has come to this. The Giants franchise began in 1883 as the New York Gothams. The Dodgers franchise began in 1884 as the Brooklyn Atlantics. The Giants have won eight World Championships while the Dodgers have won seven. The Dodgers spent most of their time in New York waiting until next year, winning only one World Series there while winning 13 of their 25 pennants prior to moving to Los Angeles. The Giants won five of their World Series Championships in New York and 17 of their 23 pennants there as well. The Giants won three World Series titles since 2010 while the Dodgers won one since their memorable victory in 1988. But that is all in the past and what matters now is the present.
Will Logan Webb produce in the NLDS for the Giants in his playoff debut? Will Walker Buehler bounce back and stifle the Giants as he did for almost all of the season? We will find out Friday night at 6:37 PM PDT on TBS.
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