Diamondbacks-Dodgers preview: Gallen matches up with Miller in opportunistic Game 2
Oct 9, 2023, 4:27 PM
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES — Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zac Gallen expressed the, “If you’re scared, stay home,” belief before Game 1 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
It is now Gallen’s turn in Game 2 after the D-backs showed no fear of Los Angeles in an 11-2 victory to open the series, scoring six runs off Clayton Kershaw and getting 6.1 scoreless innings from Merrill Kelly.
“I think going in with ease is definitely the wrong mindset, especially against the Dodgers, especially against that lineup,” Gallen said on Sunday.
“They’re going to come out firing. But I also don’t think there’s pressure. I think I said it in Milwaukee, nobody expects us to be here. We’re kind of playing with house money. … I think that’s the mentality I’ll have out there, the mentality the other 26 guys are going to have too.”
The D-backs set themselves up to take a commanding lead in the series on Monday with their ace on the mound against Dodgers rookie Bobby Miller, who has had an excellent first season.
A win for Arizona and the D-backs will have two chances to win one game and the series at home.
The Dodgers were shut out through seven innings in Game 1, but this is an offense that finished second in MLB in runs with 906 during the regular season, trailing only the Atlanta Braves. Manager Torey Lovullo was confident his club would take nothing for granted, calling the group internally motivated.
“They know that Zac is starting for us, I think everybody feels good about it,” Lovullo said on Sunday. “I don’t care what anybody says — and I’ll go back all the way when I was a player — I knew who was pitching that day or the next day. I knew who was pitching for us, against us, and it drove me in what my thoughts were about how we could attack that next day.
“Zac Gallen is one of the best pitchers in the league. But the Dodgers are a very good baseball team and we’re aware of it. We can’t expect to just walk out on this field because Zac Gallen is starting and win the baseball game. We know that.”
Gallen struggled against the Dodgers this year, but he’s had success against them in the past with a pair of dominant 2022 starts.
“If you’re scared, stay home.”
Zac Gallen and the Diamondbacks face the Dodgers next in the NLDS. pic.twitter.com/D4mQn0191A
— Arizona Sports (@AZSports) October 5, 2023
Miller has faced the D-backs twice in August to mixed results: six scoreless innings at Chase Field and four earned runs in six innings at Dodger Stadium.
He said on Saturday that he has confidence having faced the lineup twice.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “you just don’t know until you know,” if the rookie will be anxious in his first playoff game, especially given the stakes of being down in the series.
“This is going to be his biggest challenge, his biggest test that he’s ever had,” Roberts said on Monday. “I think he’s prepared for it and just appreciating the fact that adrenaline, emotions, that’s going to happen organically and naturally tonight and just trust that it will be there. But once he makes that first throw, I think he’ll be fine.”
Miller — who deploys a 99 mph heater with a sinker, curveball, slider and changeup — finished the season on a strong note.
He had a 3.19 ERA and .582 opposing OPS in six starts to end the season. Lovullo said the entire National League knew he was coming on as a top prospect.
“Just throughout the year, not being afraid of the strike zone, just attacking the hitters, being in attack mode, especially when we have a big lead and a good offense like we do, it’s really hard not to be in the attack mode all the time,” Miller said.
Roberts said he expects Miller to hit 80-95 pitches but he will read and react.
The Dodgers have to lean on the 24-year-old to perform like a top of the rotation arm due to their lack of options.
Los Angeles entered the postseason short on starters with Walker Buehler working back from Tommy John surgery, Julio Urias on administrative leave due to domestic violence allegations plus Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin were unavailable due to injury.
Diamondbacks-Dodgers Game 3 starters
Lovullo did not disclose his Game 3 starter when asked on Monday, but he said there is an obvious candidate he is leaning toward.
Brandon Pfaadt started Game 1 of the NL wild card series against the Milwaukee Brewers and will have had more than a week off by the time Wednesday rolls around.
“Let’s get through today,” Lovullo said on Monday. “I know it’s TBA right now.”
Roberts said he does not see his starter being anyone other than veteran right-hander Lance Lynn, whom the Dodgers acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox. He also suggested rookie Ryan Pepiot would be involved in the plan.
First pitch on Monday is at 6:07 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app.