Preview: Game #100, Diamondbacks vs. Cubs

USA TODAY Sports

The team now finds themselves looking up at the Dodgers in the standings, albeit only be one-half of a game. Hardly anything, really. But the way things have gone lately, we need to play better, or else the gap is going to go in the wrong direction.

chc_medium

Travis Wood
LHP, 6-6, 2.79
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Patrick Corbin
LHP, 11-1, 2.35

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. Adam Eaton, LF
  2. A.J. Pollock, CF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Cody Ross, RF
  5. Eric Chavez, 3B
  6. Martin Prado, 2B
  7. Wil Nieves, C
  8. Didi Gregorius SS
  9. Patrick Corbin, P

Interesting line-up today: there's no Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra or Miguel Montero on the mound. Seems odd Parra started last night against a left-hander, but sits tonight against another left-hander. Particularly strange, especially replacing him with Chavez's bat, Aaron Hill is also out: that platoon makes little sense, but it has also been the case that he has really struggled since coming back. His post-return line is down to .247/.306/.393, for a .699 OPS, and you have to wonder if his hand is still affecting him. There was some discussion on the broadcast that he may need off-season surgery to sort it out, since the fracture isn't completely healed, and probably won't.

So, what changes now the team is in second-place [even if it's possible we could be back in first by the end of tonight]. Not actually all that much. It's hard to imagine the Diamondbacks making an impact move for a starting position player or another member of the rotation: maybe an extra left-handed bullpen arm will be added, since I don't have much faith in Tony Sipp as a consistent option. So I think it largely will come down to expecting better from the existing members of the team. But let's get down and dirty and name names.

The current issue is, as I think we all know, the offense. Our pitching ERA in July has been 3.26, comfortably better than league average (3.64), and should generally lead to a better record for the month than the .500 we've achieved. But the offense has a line of .232/.303/.354, which is a .657 OPS that, without park adjustment, is only good for 11th in the league (though, amusingly, still second-best for the month in the NL West!). Goldschmidt, Ross and Prado are carrying the entire team on their backs, the only players with a July OPS better than .730. At the other end, Kubel, Cliff Pennington and Parra all have an OPS below Patrick Corbin's .536. Which ain't good, needless to say.

That may be part of the reason for tonight's line-up: get as many of the hot hands in there as possible. But that doesn't explain Montero's absence. On the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if we see more of Chavez at third and Prado at second, while Hill continues to struggle. Not that Chavez has been great, or even good, since his return, with a line of .206/.250/.294, and his last hit was also in his last start, on July 8. Could the team perhaps look for some bench help down the stretch? It'll be interesting to see what happens if LA continues to pull away for the next week. Maybe Towers will go all in for a youth movement, figuring there's nothing to lose? It'd certainly be interesting!

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