Preview: Game #125, Diamondbacks @ Reds

Jamie Sabau

Third game of a four-game set against the Reds in Cincinnati, with the teams having split the first two - that's probably better for them than us... Brandon McCarthy tries to give the Diamondbacks the edge tonight.

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Brandon McCarthy
RHP, 2-7, 4.84
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Mike Leake
RHP, 10-5, 3.01

Diamondbacks line-up

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

Little steps. That's the way to look at this road trip, which has gone 3-2 so far, against teams with better records than the Diamondbacks. Normally, this would be more than satisfactory, but it may not prove "good enough", and there are still enough pit-falls in the rest of the schedule to turn this into the effective end of the season. But I think we should get through it, one game at a time. Yesterday was a good result, not least because Patrick Corbin's complete game gives Kirk Gibson a lot more flexibility with his bullpen, as they've only had to throw a total of two innings over Monday and Tuesday [funny seeing Trevor Cahill warm up in there yesterday!]

But it's probably the offense I'm more concerned about today, going up against Leake. though McCarthy's three starts since coming back off the DL have been a distinctly mixed bag, with an overall ERA of 4.24. He has lost all three, but only one has seen him get through six innings, and a K:BB ratio of 14:7 over 17 innings isn't something to write home about either. The pair of road starts have been an issue, with McCarthy taking 197 pitches to get through ten innings, not a recipe for success. But the main problem this season continues to be a 29% line-drive rate, which is higher than any qualifying pitcher in the National League. Fingers crossed that doesn't persist tonight.

Meanwhile, we face Leake, though there is hope, because... Well, he appears to have sprung one in two of his last three starts, allowing 11 ER in 10 innings against the Cardinals and Brewers. However, maybe that's a familiarity things, since his three recent starts against NL West opponents proved much more successful, with two earned runs over a total of 20 innings, facing the Giants and Padres. He also did a pretty good job of shutting the Diamondbacks down when we faced him in mid-June, holding us to four runs and a walk over eight innings, with a two-run shot by Parra all that we had to show for it.

Bottom line is that we probably need a) good McCarthy to show up, and b) to take advantage of whatever opportunities show themselves, since there probably won't be many of them. We're five behind the Reds for the second-wild card spot, and again the difference between victory and defeat in this contest would represent a two-game swing: we win, and we're four back; we lost and the gap would expand back to six games. If this isn't quite as much as "must win" as last night, it's probably a "really would like to win," and hopefully, McCarthy and the rest of the D-backs can provide that.

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