Two wins against the D-backs are all that separate the Dodgers from clinching the National League West as the rivals prepare to open a four-game series on Monday.
With their magic number to clinch the division sitting at four, the Dodgers simply need to split this week's series at Chase Field to claim their first division title since 2009. The D-backs, meanwhile, will need to win at least three of the four meetings to prevent the Dodgers from celebrating a division crown on Arizona's own home field.
Entering their final road trip with a 10 1/2-game lead over the D-backs, the Dodgers will call on lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu in the series opener as they look to move one step closer to clinching the NL West. Though stellar in his rookie season, Ryu has struggled of late and is likely battling fellow starter Ricky Nolasco for the third spot in the Dodgers' postseason rotation.
Ryu was 12-3 with a 2.91 ERA through his first 23 Major League starts, but is just 1-3 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts since. His most recent outing came against these same D-backs, with the southpaw on Wednesday allowing three runs off 10 hits over six innings in his return to the mound after missing one start with a stiff back.
"I feel no pressure whatsoever," Ryu said regarding his potential postseason role. "I'm just trying my best and letting the pieces fall where they may. We're just trying to win as a team."
Reducing their magic number on Monday doesn't figure to be an easy task, however, as Arizona will counter with Dodgers nemesis Trevor Cahill. The D-backs righty comes into the series 5-0 all-time with a 2.04 ERA in nine career starts against the Dodgers, including 1-0 with a 1.33 ERA in three starts this season.
Like Ryu, Cahill's most recent start also came when these clubs met last week. On Tuesday, Cahill settled for the no-decision against Los Angeles while allowing three runs (one earned) off four hits and four walks over six innings of work.
"I didn't feel great, by any means," said Cahill, who has admittedly struggled at times this season with his command. "I was just able to just kind of get through it. I felt like from the get-go I'd make one good pitch and make another pitch, and it felt like it came out the same and it wasn't anywhere close."
Dodgers: Injuries piling up, Kemp nearing return
Injuries have continued to pile up recently for Los Angeles, with outfielders Yasiel Puig and Carl Crawford on Sunday becoming the latest Dodgers to miss a start due to injury.
Puig was held out of the Dodgers' starting lineup due to tightness in his left hip, though he entered the game as a pinch-hitter and grounded into a game-ending fielder's choice with the bases loaded. Crawford, meanwhile, missed the game due to tightness in his back. The Dodgers have already been playing without shortstop Hanley Ramirez since Thursday and outfielder Andre Ethier since Friday.
Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly said Puig could miss "anywhere between a day and two weeks" prior to using the phenom as a pinch-hitter on Sunday. Mattingly admitted that timetable was simply a guess on his part and added that he hopes to have Crawford back in the lineup within a day or two.
"I'm pretty confident that these guys are getting healthy and we'll be able to get everybody back in there," Mattingly said.
Despite the recent slew of injuries, there could also be some good news on the injury front, with slugger Matt Kemp (sprained left ankle, tight right hamstring) scheduled to work out in front of the team prior to Monday's series opener. If all goes well, Kemp -- on the disabled list since July 21 -- could provide immediate reinforcement for his banged-up club.
"I've been told that depending where he's at, it could be [Monday]," Mattingly said of Kemp's looming return. "We want him to be healthy. It's a possibility if everything would go perfect."
D-backs: Langwell making good first impression
Matt Langwell has made just three appearances so far during his brief time with the D-backs, but the reliever has done enough in those limited opportunities to impress manager Kirk Gibson.
Acquired from the Indians in August as part of the Jason Kubel deal, Langwell has turned in three scoreless outings while retiring nine of the 10 batters he's faced in a D-backs uniform. The 27-year-old has a fastball that hovers in the 88-92 mph range, but his deceptive pitching motion has helped him strike out three of those 10 hitters.
"He's sneaky," Gibson said. "He spots the ball well and it gets on you pretty quick, too. He throws it where he wants to as well, that's important. He's been throwing the ball good for us."
• D-backs slugger Paul Goldschmidt is 6-for-11 (.545) with two doubles and three RBIs against Ryu. The six hits are tied with Giants outfielder Hunter Pence for the most by any Major Leaguer against the Dodgers rookie.
• Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez is 9-for-17 (.529) with one home run, two doubles and three RBIs lifetime against Cahill.