What holds more sway, winning the most games in MLB or the most head-to-head?
"This is a new season," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "We're going to start fresh; the record doesn't matter. The head-to-head doesn't matter; it's about who's better in the five-game series. It's a new season. That's the way I know I'm looking at it, and I think everyone in the clubhouse echoes that."
Typically, the Dodgers go into flail mode when they see Robbie Ray on the mound, but they were probably high-fiving when they saw the lefty come on in relief of former teammate Zack Greinke during the D-backs' 11-8 NL Wild Card Game win over the Rockies on Wednesday night. That means Ray won't start Game 1. He's 3-0 with a 2.27 ERA in five starts against Los Angeles this season, with 53 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings.
"We haven't been able to crack the code," Roberts said of his club's struggles against Ray.
Arizona figures to start Taijuan Walker in Game 1, with Ray and Greinke in some order for Games 2 and 3.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw (2-0, 0.59 ERA vs. the D-backs this year) will be followed by Rich Hill and Yu Darvish, but Roberts hasn't named Alex Wood the Game 4 starter, fueling speculation that Kershaw will come back for Game 4, if necessary, even though Roberts said that won't happen.
Unlike last year, when the Dodgers had time to prepare to face the Nationals in the first round of the postseason, they've been debating different roster tweaks depending on whether the opponent was Arizona or Colorado. Either way, Roberts said there's familiarity on both sides.
"It just comes down to who is going to be better for that series, because there's really not a whole lot of things we can uncover that they haven't done, or personnel that we don't know and vice versa," he said. "I don't think there's any real benefit or disadvantage to either team."
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.