I started this as a comment on why we needed a trade. Then I realized just how bad things were, and how long it was going to be, and decided to fanpost it.
The team has just looked like it doesn't have any energy of late.
That's one reason why I'm glad to see Pennington in the lineup a bit more (that, and the fact that he's hitting .450 since the break, which has brought his average up to .245). He may not be great, but he looks like he has more energy than most of the rest of the team, and he's worked counts better than most of them. And given the recent break, rest shouldn't be the issue (and they looked worse coming back from the break than before). Parra hasn't hit like Parra since his injury in New York (.127/.215/.169). He was slumping a bit before the injury, but it's only gotten worse, whether it is lingering effects or something else. Kubel over the same stretch is .122. Gregorius is hitting .238. Our first-choice lineup against RHP is seriously struggling.
Can anyone honestly tell me Ross is so bad against RHP that he's not an improvement on what Parra and Kubel have been for the last month? (For the record, Ross over that same stretch is .270/.329/.413.) And for all our Cliff Pennington bashing, he's hitting .310 in July. Who else on the team is hitting over .300? Not Goldschmidt (.295), nor Hill (.263). Martin Prado (.326) is the only D-back other than Pennington hitting over .300 in the month of July (forgot about Wil Nieves, who is hitting .353).
On the bright side, A. J. Pollock is developing as a hitter, as despite his average dropping, his OBP has gone up. But he's still not leadoff material, and Eaton is showing some pretty severe weaknesses against LHP, and I don't think hitting leadoff on a team in contention is the time to work them out.
To be honest, and I'll catch some flak for this I'm sure, I'd stick Pennington in either leadoff or second until he cools off. We need hitters up the order to work the count. I'd also play Nieves more (I may be the first to observe that we scored 29 runs in 4 games while he was starting). A lot of people say that Kubel needs playing time to get better, but he's played in 18 of 24 games this month, and offers no tangible improvement over Ross (Kubel vs. RHP is .249/.325/.384, Ross is .200/.272/.278, but you wouldn't have to pull Ross for a pinch hitter if a LHP came in, and Ross is a positive in the field instead of the major negative Kubel is).
If I was setting lineups, and trying to shake the team out of the slump, I'd do the following for the upcoming six games:
Start Nieves at catcher for one of the first three, then all three in Boston (more right handed bats with the Monster). Montero can be a part of the DH rotation, giving him a chance to focus on his hitting and give his body a rest.
Goldschmidt is DH for one of the games in Tampa, then off for the game in Texas. He needs a rest.
Hill gets some time off in Tampa/Texas, and Gregorius gets some time off in Boston.
Chavez starts at 1B for Goldy when he is off or DH. Otherwise, he is the DH, and possibly on the bench for one of the games in Boston.
Prado plays every day, but more in left field.
Pennington rotates around between 2B, SS, and 3B as needed, playing every day.
Ross plays every day, especially in Boston, where he has more experience playing the outfield and will probably need to help everyone else out, with advice if nothing else.
Parra gets the day off in Texas, and possibly one in Tampa or Boston as well, although RF is fairly large in Boston and he might be needed there.
Lineup for Texas would then look like this: