Preview: Game #121, Diamondbacks @ Pirates

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We hit the three-quarters mark of the season this afternoon in Pittsburgh. How's your enthusiasm coming along?

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Trevor Cahill
RHP, 3-10, 4.66
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Jeff Locke
LHP, 9-3, 2.43

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. A.J. Pollock CF
  2. Martin Prado, LF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Aaron Hill, 2B
  5. Matt Davidson, 3B
  6. Wil Nieves, C
  7. Gerardo Parra, RF
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS
  9. Trevor Cahill, P

I have to admit, my interest in yesterday's game was much more of the passing variety, particularly once we fell behind for the second time. It just didn't have the feel of a game we were destined to win, and the two-run homer J.J. Putz allowed in the eighth felt more like confirmation of this, than any kind of emotional blow. With the Reds losing, we didn't drop any more games behind them for the wild-card (of course, the Dodgers won. The Dodgers always win, don't you get that?), but at 6.5 back, it's getting to the point where we almost need a sweep when we play them next series in Cincinnati.

It's a quite realistic possibility that by this point next week, the season will, to all intents and purposes, be dead in the water. I think I've come to terms with it, personally: I'm already looking forward to various off-season activities, like my ongoing project to review the entire filmography of Klaus Kinski. Really, how can anything compete with that? Of course, I'll still be paying attention to the team once that happens, but I won't be paying attention, if you see what I mean. When all credible hope of post-season play is gone, you tend to find yourself watching on a more micro, rather than macro, level: individual performances matter more than team ones.

Today, for example, we have the return of Trevor Cahill, who has a lot to prove over his final eight or nine starts, because his performances this year to date, have certainly been among the most disappointing of the 2013 campaign. It's three months to the day since Cahill won his last game: injury is obviously responsible for part of that, but in the eight starts he has made, he has a 7.91 ERA. If Cahill doesn't get the W today, he'll move into joint 10th place for longest streak without a win by an Arizona starter Ian Kennedy's ten-game streak from earlier this season is tied for 7th, but Cahill has some way to go to match the 17 start run off by Brian Anderson in 2001-02.

But it's safe to say that Cahill's 2013 number have been well short of what was hoped: he came in to the year with a solid 107 ERA+, at the young age of 24, so there was good reason to believe his best years might be yet to come. Instead, he has posted an 82 ERA+, and legitimate questions may be asked this off-season, as to whether he will be worth the $7.7 million due to be paid next year. It's up to Cahill, over the last seven weeks of the season, to prove that it's the case. We've seen flashes of how good he can be, against the Dodgers and Giants back in April. If he can finish strong, I might have to put off watching Fitzcarraldo for another day.

To no great surprise, the Diamondbacks have optioned Chaz Roe back to Reno to make room for Cahill on the 25-man roster. I think this means we're back to a regular set-up now: five-man rotation, seven-man bullpen and a bench of five. But must confess, I've kinda lost track lately...

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