(Photo credit: Amber Searls-USA TODAY Sports)
The Los Angeles Dodgers have dominated the National League West for years. They've won 10 division titles in 11 seasons and have 10 straight winning seasons against the West, including a 32-16 mark this year.
So it's not surprising they have a chance to win another series against a divisional opponent when they wrap up a four-game set at the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Thursday night.
Despite the Dodgers (98-60) winning 8-2 on Wednesday night, they have secured the No. 2 seed in the NL due to Atlanta's 6-5, 10th-inning win over the Chicago Cubs.
"I do know we're locked in to the two seed, we're going to open the Division Series at home on Oct. 7," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "Don't know who we're playing, and I just want to make sure we keep playing good baseball."
On Thursday, Los Angeles will send left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (8-6, 3.78 ERA) to the mound against Colorado right-hander Chris Flexen (1-8, 7.01).
Yarbrough has pitched mainly out of the bullpen since he was acquired from Kansas City on Aug. 1. He is 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 10 appearances -- one start -- with the Dodgers and has faced the Rockies (57-101) twice in his career. He is 2-0 with a 1.23 ERA against them and most recently faced them on Aug. 10 when he tossed three scoreless innings.
Yarbrough's ability to start or come out of the bullpen has given Roberts flexibility with how he uses him.
"I think the great thing is that you can always shorten him. If it's a longer run or a shorter run, we believe he can do that," Roberts told reporters. "We think that the versatility of Yarbs is the thing that's most valuable. He's a guy that I think can handle (different roles). He's seasoned. He's done it a lot. So he's a guy that certainly we feel like we can use in different roles."
Yarbrough brings postseason experience to Los Angeles from his time in Tampa Bay.
While Los Angeles has successfully integrated young arms into its pitching staff, the Rockies have struggled to plug holes in their rotation. Their projected starting five at the beginning of the season are all on the shelf, and they've needed to bring arms in via the waiver wire.
Flexen is one of those brought in during the season. He was claimed after the New York Mets waived him July 6 and was recalled from Triple-A three weeks later.
Thursday will be his 12th start with Colorado and his first-ever against the Dodgers. He has faced them once, giving up a run in an inning of relief in 2018.
Flexen was solid in August but has slipped in September, going 0-2 with a 7.23 ERA in five starts, but Rockies manager Bud Black has seen the talent the 29-year-old brings to the mound.
"Chris has a 91-94 mph fastball and an 80 mph change -- and that's good -- with the same arm speed," Black said recently. "It's got a little late fade to lefties, and I like it against right-handed and left-handed batters. I repeatedly tell him it's part of his best stuff."
--Field Level Media