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Series Preview #36, @ Cincinnati Reds

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With the trade deadline looming, the Arizona Diamondbacks continue their six game road trip against the sliding Cincinnati Reds.

Norm Hall

What's New?

After a 4-2 stretch following the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks managed to take just one of three games from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies got to Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley early and often on Friday night, exploding for five runs and running away with the 9-4 win. It was more of the same on Saturday night, only Arizona rallied back to eventually take the lead as they won 10-6 in ten innings. A first-inning home run off the bat of Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard was all that Philadelphia needed, as they would go on to win 4-2. Arizona has split their last ten games, and are 24-27 on the road this season. They are 45-60 overall, 13.5 games behind Los Angeles for first place in the NL West. They are 1.5 games behind San Diego for third place.

The Arizona offense currently ranks 20th in wRC+ (92), and are 19th in the majors with a 10.8 offensive WAR, batting .258/.311/.396 with a .311 wOBA. The team doesn't strike out often (19.1% strikeout rate ranks ninth-lowest in baseball), but struggle to draw walks in having the lowest walk rate (6.4%) in the major leagues.The pitching staff remains an issue for the Snakes, as they have the fifth-highest team ERA in baseball (4.30) and eighth-highest FIP (3.97). The struggle when pitching to contact (their .313 BABIP ranks second-highest in the majors), and also yield the fourth-highest home run rate in baseball (1.08 HR/9).

Cincinnati has struggled offensively this season, posting the 27th-ranked wRC+ (87) in baseball this season and having a 12.2 offensive WAR (16th) while batting .243/.303/.379 with a .302 wOBA. Their struggles are perhaps due to a bit of bad luck, as their .291 BABIP ranks sixth-worst in baseball. The Reds have remained afloat this season mostly behind their strong pitching, which has the ninth-ranked team ERA (3.50) and 20th-ranked FIP (3.91). They strike out batters at the tenth-highest rate in baseball, punching out 8.04 batters/nine innings. They also effectively shut down offensives when the ball is in play, holding them to a .276 BABIP that is third-lowest in baseball.

The Reds have been in a  tailspin since the All-Star Break, losing their first seven games before finally beating the Nationals on Sunday night.They are 2-8 in their last ten overall, and took one of three games from their last series. They are currently 52-52 overall, six games behind Milwaukee for first place in the NL Central. First and fourth place are separated by just six games in that division, leaving the door one for a club to have a surprise baseball.

On The Mend

Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill was held out of the lineup on Sunday with a contusion on his right hand.

Roster Moves

On Sunday, the Phillies activated third baseman Jack Hannahan from the 60-day disabled list, and also recalled right hander Kurtis Prtctih from Triple-A Louisville.

On The Move?

It is no question that the Arizona Diamondbacks will play the role of 'sellers' in this month's trade deadline (or so we hope). As AZ Central's Zach Buchanan reported Sunday, the Diamondbacks are receiving their share of interest:

So who's most likely to go? Here are the rough odds (according to who I think SHOULD be moved) coming into this week:

Oliver Perez: 2:1

Brad Ziegler: 25:1

Aaron Hill: 50:1

Martin Prado: 100:1

Kevin Towers: 2,000:1 and a player to be named later

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Monday 4:10 PT: RHP Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.58 ERA, 4.55 FIP) vs. RHP Homer Bailey (8-5, 4.22 ERA, 4.22 FIP)

Anderson took the no decision for the first time in his career during his last start, giving up two runs on five hits over six innings against the Tigers. He is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in his last two starts, and is 2-2 with a 3.15 ERA in four career road starts. Bailey gave up three runs on four hits over six innings in his last start, picking up the no decision. He is 5-2 with a 3.75 ERA in nine home starts this season.

Game 2, Tuesday 4:10 PT: RHP Trevor Cahill (1-7, 5.72 ERA, 4.12 FIP) vs. RHP Mike Leake (7-9, 3.93 ERA, 3.79 FIP)

Cahill had no command in his last start, and he was knocked around in allowing seven runs (three earned) over four innings in a loss to the Tigers. He has a 3.54 ERA in 11 road appearances (one start) this season. After a strong May (2.16 ERA), Leake has struggled with a 4.71 ERA since. The former Sun Devil is 3-0 with a 5.84 ERA lifetime against Arizona, and is 3-4 with a 3.75 ERA at home this season.

Game 3, Wednesday 9:35 AM PT: LHP Wade Miley (6-7, 4.34 ERA, 3.93 FIP) vs. RHP Alfredo Simon (12-5, 2.86 ERA, 4.34 FIP)

After coming in red-hot into his last start, Miley was knocked around in Philadelphia, giving up six runs over five innings in the loss. He is 54-2 with a 3.28 ERA on the road this season (11 starts). After his red-hot first half (12-3, first All-Star appearance), Simon is 0-2 with a 4.82 ERA. He's 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in five career appearances (one start) against the Diamondbacks. He's 5-3 with a 3.36 ERA at home this season.

Series Pick'em

I hate to say it, but for the first time ever I am picking the Diamondbacks to get swept. The pitching matchups just don't align, and it is put up or shut up time for the Reds and their playoff hopes. The best odds to win will be the opener, but I think Homer Bailey's stuff is simply to overpowering for the Diamondbacks' bats. The re-experimentation with Cahill in the rotation has been a disaster, and while Miley has pitched well, I expect Simon to get back on track pretty quickly.