The Arizona Diamondbacks came into Los Angeles with a ton of confidence. They're now at home facing elimination.
The D-backs lost to the best team in baseball by scores of 9-5 and 8-5 in Games 1 and 2, respectively, of their best-of-5 National League Division Series in Los Angeles. Game 3 will take place Monday in Phoenix, with a possible Game 4 in Phoenix on Tuesday.
In order to keep their season alive, the D-backs will need to improve upon several areas in which they didn't perform well in the first two games:
1. Starters can't finish
Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray, who started Games 1 and 2 for the D-backs, respectively, just didn't get the job done. Walker enjoyed his best-ever regular season in 2017 but lasted only an inning after allowing four runs on 48 pitches in Game 1, while Ray, who dominated the Dodgers in two regular-season starts in LA, was erratic at best and lasted just four innings in Game 2.
The D-backs will now turn to their ace, Zack Greinke, as the series hits the Valley for Game 3. Greinke had problems of his own in the D-backs' Wild Card win over the Rockies on Wednesday. If he doesn't do better, the D-backs' season will come to an end Monday night.
2. No relief from relievers
Arizona's bullpen was the second-best in the National League during the regular season (behind the Dodgers) -- but like the starters, they didn't look good in LA.
Let's start with Jimmie Sherfy, who was outstanding for the D-backs late in the season but only pitched in 11 MLB games entering the playoffs. His inexperience has shown, as he allowed a run in Game 1 and didn't record a single out while yielding three runs in Game 2.
And then, there's Archie Bradley, who has been the D-backs' top reliever this season but gave up a home run in his last regular-season appearance and then surrendered two more homers in the Wild Card game. He allowed another run (albeit unearned) off two hits and a walk in two innings of work Saturday night.
Even if Greinke puts together a decent performance Monday night, he'll need the bullpen to be better if the D-backs are going to keep their season alive.
3. Runners left on base
The D-backs won their Wild Card game despite not hitting very well with runners in scoring position. They haven't enjoyed the same luck against the Dodgers.
While five runs in each game should have been enough for at least one victory, the D-backs could have manufactured more runs, and possibly a split in LA, with some clutch hitting. Instead, they've gone 1 for 7 with runners on second or third base during this series, while the Dodgers have gone 10 for 30 (5 for 15 in both games). It's yet another thing the D-backs will have to improve upon if they're going to rally from this 2-0 deficit.