Series Preview #30, @ Atlanta Braves

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

With a run at fourth place just within their grasp, Arizona wraps up their nine-game road trip against the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves.

What's New?

What looked to be a rough three game set ended on a high note for the Diamondbacks, as they managed to take the final game to win one of three. Arizona looked to be in great position to win on Tuesday night, going into the ninth inning up 2-0 until closer Addison Reed blew the save to see Pittsburgh win 3-2 in walk-off fashion. Command evaded Arizona starter Chase Anderson early and often Wednesday night, as the Diamondbacks fell behind early and couldn't rally in the 5-1 loss. Arizona finally managed to show some life in Thursday's rubber match, breaking up Vance Worley's no-hit bid in the fifth inning to take a 3-2 lead, then scoring a whopping seven runs in the ninth for the 10-2 Arizona win.

Despite their offensive outburst on Thursday, Arizona has yet to show that they can produce runs at a league average rate, producing the 23rd-ranked wRC+ in baseball (90). Their overall offense is also below the league average, as their offensive WAR ranks 19th in the majors (8.8), and are batting .255/.308/.390 as a unit. Arizona has found different ways to get on base this season, as their walk rate ranks dead last in baseball (6.4%) despite their 'average' wOBA (.308). Arizona retains a pitching staff that is still among the league's worst, posting the 26th-best ERA in baseball (4.33), which when adjusted for FIP is still at 4.01. Despite their above-average strikeout and walk rates, where this staff has gotten into trouble has been when it pitches to contact, as their BABIP is the fourth-highest in baseball (.309), including a stunning 13.1% of fly balls leaving the park for home runs (second-highest rate in the majors).

Atlanta's offense has also had more than its share of struggles when it comes to producing runs, ranking 22nd in wRC+ (90). However, the rest of their offense has picked itself up, posting the tenth-best offensive WAR in baseball (11.9) and batting .241/.305/.373. They are extremely vulnerable to the strikeout, posting the fifth-highest punch out rate in baseball 22.5% while walking 7.8% of the time. The Braves' pitching staff, however, has been one of the league's best in posting the sixth-best ERA (3.24) in baseball, which when adjusted for FIP moves to 3.31.They strike batters out at the fourth-highest rate in baseball, posting a 8.49 K/9. When they do get the ball in play, Atlanta can run into problems through its inflated BABIP of .303. Arizona has gone 4-6 in their last ten games, and are 36-51 overall, 12.5 games behind the Dodgers for first in the NL West. They are 0.5 games behind Colorado for fourth place.

Atlanta comes into the series red-hot, coming off of a three game sweep of the Mets at home, and having won their last seven games overall. They've won nine of their last ten, and have been quite good at home (23-18) this season. The Arizona series is wrapping up a six game home stand before a road trip to New York and Chicago. Atlanta is 47-38, half a game ahead of  Washington for first place in the NL East.

On The Mend

Braves catcher Gerald Laird is day-to-day with an oblique injury that he has been dealing with for two weeks, according to David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Roster Moves

On Wednesday, Atlanta activated right hander David Carpenter from the 15-day disabled list. In a resulting move, Atlanta optioned Juan Jaime to Triple-A Gwinnett.

We Want Trumbo

Arizona has made a name for itself in recent years with their "big splashes" during the offseason, many of which have not quite panned out (see: Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy). This offseason's target: Mark Trumbo. Trumbo began the season appearing to buck the trend, jumping out to the National League lead in home runs by hitting .210/.264/.506 with seven home runs and 19 RBIs through his first 21 games. However, luck caught up to him and he wound up on the disabled list with a stress fracture, and has not been seen since.

But he's back (and thank goodness)! Trumbo began his rehab assignment last week, playing a pair of games in the rookie league (going 3 for 6, home run), and playing in the field for six innings Wednesday. He's expected to join Triple-A Reno on Sunday, with the idea of him rejoining the major league club after the All-Star Break, according to the Arizona Republic.

And Arizona needs the outfield help. With Trumbo and A.J. Pollock's injury, Arizona has been forced to rely on rookie outfielders David Peralta (.324/.349/.457 with three home runs, 11 RBIs in 28 games) and Ender Inciarte (.235/.263/.258 with seven RBIs in 45 games). While they have certainly made cases to remain as a role players in Arizona's future, it is clear that Trumbo's bat is needed back in Arizona's lineup. With Arizona's recent progress after their terrible April, it's a wonder to see how far they can go after the All-Star Break with their lineup back to form.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 4:35 PT: RHP Josh Collmenter (7-4, 3.74 ERA, 4.18 FIP) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (6-5, 4.05 ERA, 3.27 FIP)

Collmenter has picked up the win three times in the last nine days (twice as a starter, once in relief), becoming the first Diamondback to do so since Randy Johnson in 2001. In his last start, he gave up just a run on five hits over 5.1 innings in picking up the win over the Padres. Santana has been inconsistent all year long, and has done the same of late. After a poor stretch, he has put together consecutive quality starts, including giving up two runs over 6.2 innings in a win over the Phillies.

Game 2, Saturday 1:10 PT: RHP Mike Bolsinger (1-4, 4.53 ERA, 4.04 FIP) vs. RHP Aaron Harang (7-6, 3.69 ERA, 3.36 FIP)

Bolsinger has benefitted from his stint in the minors, going 0-2 with a 2.70 ERA in the three starts since his recall from Triple-A Reno. He has, however, struggled with run support in getting just two runs over those starts. Harang skated around trouble in his last start, surrendering 11 hits but still giving up just two runs over seven innings in a win over Philadelphia. He has given up two runs or less in 13 of his 17 starts this season.

Game 3, Sunday 10:35 PT: LHP Wade Miley (3-6, 4.61 ERA, 4.13 FIP) vs. LHP Alex Wood (6-6, 3.19 ERA, 3.24 FIP)

Wade Miley had perhaps the worst of his luck this season, taking a two-hit shutout into the ninth until closer Addison Reed blew the 2-0 lead in the ninth. He hit double-digit strikeouts for the second time in the last ten games. Despite some early issues, Wood finished his last start strong in retiring his last 11 batters. He finished the game giving up three runs on six hits over six innings in picking up the no decision. Wood is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA in nine appearances (four starts) at home this season.

Series Pick'em

With a shot at fourth place on the line, I think Arizona can take two out of three games from this series. Josh Collmenter has pitched well of late, and I fully expect him to continue that run while we've gotten a mixed bag of results from Santana. Bolsinger has struggled to get run support, and might suffer from the same issue when Harang takes the bump. Wade Miley has struggled to pick up wins as of late, and Wood has had his success this season at home.

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