The matchup does not quite conjure up the magic that it used to, but there remains something rich about Madison Bumgarner facing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Bumgarner's matchups with the Dodgers, back when he was a starter for the San Francisco Giants, always carried an extra bit of weight.
Now in his third season with the Arizona Diamondbacks (69-80), the left-hander has been a division foe of the Dodgers for 14 years.
Bumgarner (6-15, 5.01 ERA) will be facing Los Angeles for the 40th time in his career when he takes the mound Wednesday at Dodger Stadium for the fourth game in an extended five-game series. His 2.93 ERA against the Dodgers has come in a hefty 245 1/3 innings.
The 33-year-old is coming off an outing Friday against the San Diego Padres when he gave up five runs on eight hits in five innings. It was the seventh time in his past nine starts that an opponent scored at least five runs against him. He has a 7.82 ERA and 0-6 record in that nine-game run.
Despite recent adjustments on the mound, Bumgarner's struggles continued.
"Maybe I should stop," Bumgarner told reporters about the mechanical tweaks. "I don't know. It's a very frustrating game sometimes. I've thrown much worse games this year and had far better results. It's tough to understand sometimes."
In two starts against the Dodgers this season, Bumgarner is 0-2 with a 6.55 ERA in 11 innings, but Arizona manager Torey Lovullo was not about to deny his veteran another matchup against his longtime nemesis.
"We're going to keep fighting with him ... and he's going to grind through it," Lovullo said. "And we're going to grind through it with him."
The Dodgers (103-45) will counter with right-hander Dustin May (2-2, 3.46), who is making his sixth start since returning from Tommy John surgery. The Dodgers still are putting together a pitching plan for the playoffs, with May's role not yet decided.
He could end up being a starter in the playoffs, or manager Dave Roberts could deploy him as a swing man, much like he did with both Kenta Maeda and Julio Urias in recent playoff runs.
May last pitched Friday at San Francisco and showed he is worthy of a significant playoff role with five hitless innings. He walked just one batter after recording a combined eight walks in his previous two outings and was removed after throwing 69 pitches.
"I threw strikes, plain and simple," said May, who has given up three runs in two appearances (1 1/3 innings) lifetime against the Diamondbacks. "I was over the plate. It's a weird concept -- throw strikes, you get outs."
Of primary concern is that May had to work his way through some arm soreness before the start against the Giants. He had an extra day of rest before the outing and was on a strict pitch count.
"We want to make sure we take care of him," Roberts said. "Probably (being) a little overly cautious."
The Dodgers split a doubleheader against Arizona on Tuesday and are now three wins away from tying the club record of 106 in a single season.
--Field Level Media