D-backs face major test in Game 1's Kershaw-Walker matchup

Given Major League Baseball's postseason setup, any team that wins the wild card is likely to be at a pitching disadvantage in the next series when they face the conference's top team.

Having thrown their top two starting pitchers and facing a fully rested future Hall of Famer, that disadvantage is more pronounced Friday for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

They'll be relying on back-of-the-rotation arm Taijuan Walker to duel baseball's best starting pitcher over the last 10 years, Clayton Kershaw.

On paper, it's a complete mismatch.

But Walker has found some success against the Dodgers in his first year as a Diamondback, going 2-0 in three starts, including six innings of one-hit ball Sept. 6 at Chavez Ravine.

Three-time Cy Young winner Kershaw has gotten the win in both games he's pitched against the D-Backs in 2017, giving up just one run in 15-1/3 innings pitched.

The postseason narrative on Kershaw isn't exactly glowing -- his 4-7 record and 4.55 ERA are far out of step with his standing as one of the game's elite.

The Diamondbacks will be throwing a righty-heavy lineup at Kershaw, meaning Brandon Drury will take over for wild card starter Daniel Descalso, and Adam Rosales will fill in at third base for Jake Lamb, who has considerable trouble with southpaws.

Walker faces a Dodger lineup highlighted by shortstop Corey Seager, third baseman Justin Turner and rookie sensation Cody Bellinger as the 2-3-4 hitters.

Kershaw has held Paul Goldschmidt in check, allowing just 10 hits and two home runs on 44 at-bats, striking out the D-backs' star first baseman 17 times. Though it's a small sample, J.D. Martinez has three hits and a homer off Kershaw in eight career at-bats.

After proving Wednesday they belong in the playoffs, the Diamondbacks face a far different challenge Friday night in the series opener.

Follow along with us on Twitter @12News.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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