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Onto the road go the Diamondbacks once again, with a West coast sweep that takes in three of our division rivals. We'll go on through San Diego and Los Angeles, but the first stop is San Francisco. With the Dodgers facing woeful Washington - just swept by the Giants - it's important to get off on the right foot here. And of late, there's no-one better to do so for the D-backs, than Dan Haren. In his last five starts, he has an ERA of 0.75, having allowed three earned runs in 36 innings of work, with opponents batting .165 against him over that time. His current streak of seven straight starts allowing two or less earned runs, is something even Webb hasn't done, and trails only the Big Unit (nine games in 1999), as far as franchise history goes.
Our offense has come back to life a little of late, with the July OPS of .732 being the best by the team since April. However, I am a little concerned that the collective BABIP is .322, which is a little high, and probably lucky. Hudson (.418) and Tracy (.447) are particular outliers this month; on the other hand, Jackson's .333 average is based on a BABIP just sixteen points higher. Which seems like a good place to reproduce this chart, which by coincidence popped up in my email an hour or two ago.
Baseball Prospectus Stat of the Day
File that in the large box, marked "And we would want to swap Jackson for Teixeira, why, exactly?" It's very interesting to note that, while Berkman and Pujols are light-years ahead, Jackson [salary $420K] fits in between Teixieira [$12.5] and Derrek Lee [$13.25m]. In terms of value for money, there may be no better options at the position in the National League this year.
Here's a little snippet I was forwarded, that sheds a light on why we've struggled so much this season, and why we went out and got Jon Rauch. According to Santo Lombarbarda of the Elias Sports Bureau, through Monday, only one team in the majors had a lead through six innings more often than the D-backs:
Team Lead Games Win %St. Louis Cardinals 57 101 .564 Arizona Diamondbacks 53 99 .535 Milwaukee Brewers 50 99 .505 Boston Red Sox 51 101 .505 Texas Rangers 50 100 .500 New York Mets 49 99 .495 Toronto Blue Jays 49 99 .495 Chicago Cubs 48 99 .485 Los Angeles Angels 48 99 .485 Atlanta Braves 47 99 .475
The overall figure for the Diamondbacks' bullpen also speak for themselves:
2007 2008 W-L 30-19 10-18 Blown saves 15 16
Some bits of news. Juan Cruz will throw tonight on a rehab assignment, then probably again on Monday - and if those two outings go well, he'll be back with us in time for the tail of the Padres series, or early in the Dodgers' one. However, Justin Upton is still at least a week away and hasn't even started taking real swings as yet. Our recent draft pick [#43 overall], Wade Miley is scouted by Alex Eisenberg over at The Hardball Times, as part of his look at picks #36-43. And I was interviewed by Troy of FullOfSports.com, and we discussed the D-backs second-half prospects: it can be found within their latest podcast.
Should be around or about for tonight's game, and I think it's Azreous scheduled for the recap? Failing that, I'll get it done in the morning: we have a busy weekend in project [cabaret tomorrow, lucha libre on Sunday], so even though we have taken Monday off work, we will have to cram in as much sloth tonight as possible!