The next three days in Dodger Stadium could very well be a sign of things to come this October.
It's not out of the question to think that the Dodgers and Rays will be locking horns in the World Series. Their recent runs have been incredible: Dodgers 34-8, Rays 25-8.
They each have dominant starting pitchers (Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu; Rays: David Price, Chris Archer, Matt Moore - though he's currently injured). They each have veteran stars at the plate (Hanley Ramirez - hopefully returns this series; Evan Longoria). They also each have bright young stars (Yasiel Puig; Wil Myers).
Most importantly, they keep winning and winning. And in the end, that's all that matters.
Let's take a look at each game in this three-game set:
Friday - Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.16) vs. David Price (6-5, 3.36)
With the Dodgers traveling back from a night game in St. Louis on Thursday, and with the Rays already in town after an off-day, the advantage gets shifted towards the visitors. Then you couple the fact that the Rays are using their #1 against the Dodgers' #5, the advantage is swung even further.
Both Capuano and Price have looked good lately. Capuano hasn't given up a run his last two starts, covering 13 innings. He's taken full advantage of another chance to be in the rotation. Price was shockingly bad the first couple of months with a 5.24 ERA, but a six-week stint on the DL has definitely turned him around. In his last seven starts, four of them have gone the distance, and they all have lasted at least seven innings. Advantage: Rays
Saturday - Zack Greinke (9-3, 3.40) vs. Roberto Hernandez (6-11, 4.75)
Greinke continues to get better every month, looking like he's finally over the elbow problems from Spring Training, and the broken collarbone when that idiot Carlos Quentin charged the mound in April. One big key has been limiting his walks. On July 7 he walked seven against the Rockies, and in six starts since then he's only walked eight. Lo and behold, his ERA has gone down from 4.30 to 3.40.
Carmona... er, I mean Hernandez had a solid July after looking pretty bad before that. Still, he didn't even make it out of the fifth against the Giants last start, so it's hard to know what to expect from him. Advantage: Dodgers
Sunday - Clayton Kershaw (10-7, 1.91) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (10-5, 4.77)
Anyone matched up against Kershaw is already at a disadvantage, so Hellickson is in a tough spot. Kershaw is obviously the leading candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, so he'll be looking to build on that. However, the Dodgers have a hard time scoring for him, as he's given up two runs in 14 innings his last couple of starts, and is 0-1.
Hellickson wasn't looking too good though May with a 5.61 ERA, but he's figured things out since then. The Rays are 9-3 in his last 12 starts. He's on a personal two-game slide, though, as the Diamondbacks have knocked him out in the fifth both times. Advantage: Dodgers
The pitching matchups indicate a weekend edge for the Dodgers. So you know what that means - the Dodgers will win on Friday and drop both weekend games. That would be very much like the Dodgers taking three of four from the Cardinals with Kershaw getting the lone loss.
There's plenty of national TV exposure for this as well. Saturday afternoon's game will be one of the three games on FOX, and Sunday night is on ESPN. Sit back, relax, and enjoy some great baseball this weekend.