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Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends
We're so glad you could attend, come inside, come inside...
That was a nice break: four days is the Diamondbacks' longest time without a defeat since May 16. And now, we have Tony 'Mufasa' Clark back in the dugout, so I confidently expect us to go 67-0 the rest of the way. Though it's probably best if Clark avoids rock-climbing with his brother, until after the season is over...
Overall, I do think this will make the team better, simply by providing someone with pop on the bench, something sadly lacking of late. The current residents of the pine, Burke, Bonifacio, Hammock, Ojeda and Romero, have combined for zero home-runs and only fifteen extra-base hits in 335 at-bats this season. I am also prepared to bet that Clark's OPS will be better than the .521 posted by Burke so far this season. I am optimistic that he is the most likely recipient of a ticket to DFAville - Clark is hardly going to replace Bonifacio or Ojeda at second, Hammock behind the plate or Romero in the outfield.
We start with a crucial series against the Dodgers, with the leadership of the division on the line, and then what will probably be an even tougher one against the Cubs. There are some very intriguing pitching match-ups coming in the next week. Tomorrow will be a cracker, with Dan Haren facing Chad Billingsley, and Sunday sees a battle of the ground-ballers, as Brandon Webb goes up against Derek Lowe. I think we have a narrow, but perceptible, edge in both of those; we'll be hoping Haren continues his brilliant form of the first half, with an ERA of 1.45 over eight outings since the start of June.
Today, Kuroda faces Doug Davis: while both men have similar ERAs over their past seven starts [3.35 for Kuroda vs. 3.74 for Davis], but got there by radically different means. Kuroda has three shutout appearances, including a one-hitter against Atlanta; two quality starts; and two flops. Davis, has been much more consistent, rarely being brilliant or awful, yet falling just one out short of giving the Diamondbacks six quality starts in a row. Particularly good, his WHIP over these six outings is 1.24, a significant improvement over early on this year - or, indeed, the previous couple of seasons. Is is sustainable? We'll find out tonight.
Chris Snyder will be making - somewhat gingerly, I suspect - a rehab start for Visalia tonight, but if that goes well, he could be back in the lineup later in the series, which will certainly be a boost. Justin Upton's return is still in doubt, and will likely be made shortly before gametime. Melvin said after a workout yesterday, "We'll take this workout to see. He's done a little bit of tee work. I don't know if I'm comfortable with where he was and we'll have a decision to make with him tomorrow." If he's unable to play, maybe we will see Jackson in left, Tracy in right and Clark at first?
Finally, a little nugget from Baseball Prospectus. You might think our outfield is offensively weak, but Andruw Jones currently has more than twice as many strikeouts as hits (59 to 27). in the last 50 years, there have been just six other players to do the same in a season of at least 180 plate appearances. Worse yet, he has only 41 total bases. If you divide strikeouts by total bases, Jones comes up with the third-highest ratio (min. 180 PA) in the last 50 years. The only players with a worse ratio are two obscure shortstops from the late '60s: Darrel Chaney, who struck out 75 times while collecting 49 total bases in his rookie season for the '69 Reds, and Oyler, who whiffed 59 times versus 40 total bases for the '68 Tigers.
Definitely going to be about for most of this series; while a Dark Knight trip is being contemplated at some point this weekend, that probably won't be during peak hours, as a busy cinema is not our idea of fun. Getting this up very early, to give us a forum to chat about the series, the return of Big Tony, and the Batman flick.