Arizona took one out of three games in their last series against the Atlanta Braves, wrapping up a 4-5 road trip strong with a win Sunday. In Friday night's opener, Atlanta jumped onto Arizona starter Josh Collmenter to four early runs in the first two innings and rode on a strong start from right hander Ervin Santana for a 5-2 win. Arizona exploded for three first inning runs on Saturday, but saw the game slip away (including a five run fourth inning) as Atlanta ran to a 10-4 win. Luck finally went Wade Miley's way in the rubber match Sunday, as he would pick up his first win since May 10th in giving up a run on five hits over 6.2 innings in Arizona's 3-1 win. After that road trip, Arizona is returning home (where they are 15-30) at 37-53, 13.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. They are half a game behind Colorado for fourth place in the NL West.
Arizona's offense dropped even further down in the league rankings in run production after their last series, going down to 25th in the majors in wRC+ (89) and batting .254/.308/.389 as a team. They have the lowest walk rate in baseball (6.4%), but still have posted a slightly below-average wOBA (.307) and strike out just 19.2% of the time (10th lowest in the majors). They've posted an 8.5 offensive WAR, good enough for 19th in the majors. The Diamondbacks' pitching staff is third-worst in team ERA this season (4.38), which when adjusted for FIP moves down to (3.99). They allow a stunning .312 BABIP to hitters this season, the third-highest mark in baseball, but surprisingly allow a 12.9% home run/fly ball ratio which again is one of the league's highest.
Miami is the in the midst of a surprising season, and have shockingly been powered by their offense (despite them playing in a major pitcher's park at Marlins Park). Their wRC+ is good enough for 13th in the majors (96), with the 17th offensive WAR (10.4) in baseball. They are batting .255/.321/.385 as a team, and having an adjusted wOBA of .312. They struggle with punch outs, striking out at the second-highest rate in baseball (23.1%) and relying on the highest BABIP (.319) in the majors. Miami has had an average rotation this season despite losing ace Jose Fernandez, posting the 16th-best team ERA in baseball (3.85), which when adjusted for FIP lowers to 3.61. They also struggle when batters make contact, surrendering a .311 BABIP and leaving 71.9% of runners on base.
The Marlins come to Arizona after taking two of three from the St. Louis Cardinals, and having won four of their last ten games. Miami is just 16-23 on the road this season, and are looking to wrap up a six-game road trip before the All-Star break. They're currently 43-45 this season, six games behind the Washington Nationals for first place in the NL East.
On The Mend
Marlins right hander Tom Koehler was activated off of the paternity list on Saturday, and will travel with the team for their series in Arizona.
Arizona traded left hander Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana to the Los Angeles Angels for right hander Joey Krehbiel and outfielder Zach Borenstein on Saturday; in a resulting move, their recalled left hander Eury De La Rosa from Triple-A Reno.
The Marlins activated right hander Tom Koehler from the paternity list on Sunday, and optioned left hander Andrew Heaney to Triple-A New Orleans.
A For Effort?
It's been a rough first half of the season for the Arizona Diamondbacks, who before the season were expected to contend for a playoff spot in the National League but instead currently sit in the NL West cellar. Despite their struggles, these are my "All-Stars" for this season's first half, who have made it somewhat manageable for Diamondbacks fans:
Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman: The obvious choice here. The NL starting first baseman (as announced Sunday) leads the team in batting average (.310), home runs (16), RBIs (58), OBP (.398), and hits (104), as well as leading the entire National League with 32 doubles. 'Goldy' is making his second National League All-Star appearance in a row next Tuesday night, and has shown that his breakout 2013 campaign was far from a fluke.
A.J. Pollock, center fielder: Pollock was perhaps in the running for All-Star consideration himself through his first 52 games in 2014, batting .316/.366/.554 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in the midst of a breakout season. Despite being sidelined since May with a broken hand, Pollock is more than worthy of consideration for my 'All-Stars' due to the impact he had on the top of the lineup as a spark early in the season.
Oliver Perez, middle reliever: Speaking of surprises, I highly doubt that if you asked me or any Diamondbacks fan who the most reliable member of Arizona's bullpen would be in 2014, that they would call Perez's name. Signed at the beginning of free agency to a minor league deal, Perez has blossomed into his new role as a reliever, yielding a 2.18 ERA through his first 37 appearances and striking out 9.27 batters per nine innings.
Game 1, Monday 6:40 PT: RHP Tom Koehler (6-6, 3.48 ERA , 3.96 FIP) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (5-4, 3.91 ERA, 5.10 FIP)
Koehler is making his first start since coming off of the paternity list on Sunday. He threw his third consecutive quality start in his last outing, allowing just three hits and no runs over six innings in a win over the Phillies. He allowed a run on three hits over six innings in his last and only start against Arizona in his career. Anderson is coming off of the worst start of his career in his last start, giving up three runs on eight hits over 3.2 innings in a loss against the Pirates. He has now lost his last four starts, and is 3-2 with a 4.45 ERA at home this season.
Game 2, Tuesday 6:40 PT: LHP Brad Hand (0-1, 6.21 ERA, 4.94 FIP) vs. LHP Vidal Nuno (2-5, 5.42 ERA, 5.15 FIP)
Hand returned to the starting rotation in his last start, giving up three runs on seven hits over five innings against the Phillies. He is 1-11 in 18 career major league starts, and has a 6.10 ERA on the road this season. Nuno is making his first start since being traded for right hander Brandon McCarthy on Sunday. Nuno gave up three runs on eight hits over five innings against the Rays in his last start.
Game 3, Wednesday, 12:40 PT: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (5-4, 3.75 ERA, 3.32 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (7-5, 3.98 ERA, 4.10 FIP)
Eovaldi has gone at least six innings in each of his last four starts, and gave up three runs on six hits over six innings in a loss to the Cardinals in his last start. He's 2-2 with a 3.38 ERA on the road this season. Collmenter struggled in the early innings in his last start against Atlanta, giving up two first inning runs and finishing with five runs on eleven hits over six innings as he picked up the loss. He's 5-2 with a 3.38 ERA at home this season.
I think Arizona takes two out of three games in this series, as I feel all three of these games are simply up for grabs. Anderson is bound for a turnaround at some point, but Koehler has pitched well as of late. Both Hand and Nuno have had their struggles, so it's just a matter of which offense takes advantage. Both Eovaldi and Collmenter have pitched well this season, and it's up to who puts together the solid start.