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Series Preview #37, vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

After a (surprising) series win in Cincinnati, the Diamondbacks continue their tour against the NL Central as they return home to play the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Andy Lyons

What's New?

Arizona returns to Chase Field after winning two of three games in Cincinnati, seeing them go 3-3 overall on the road trip and having manager Kirk Gibson tie Bob Melvin for most wins by a manager in franchise history. The Diamondbacks kicked things off strong in Monday's opener, taking a pitcher's duel all the way to the 15th inning before going on to win 2-1. Trevor Cahill got off to a poor start yet again in the second game, surrendering three early runs as Arizona was unable to put a run on the board, losing 3-0. In yet another pitchers duel between Wade Miley and Alfredo Simon, Arizona would pile up the runs in the late innings and hold off a comeback attempt by the Reds to win the game 5-4. Arizona has plot their last ten games, and return home where they are 21-33. Overall they are 47-61, 13.5 games behind Los Angeles for first place in the NL West. They are a game behind San Diego for third place.

Offensively, the Diamondbacks rank 23rd in in wRC+ (90) and 21st in offensive WAR (10.1), while batting .255/.308/.391 with a .307 wOBA. They're actually one of the better teams in baseball once they get the ball in play, posting the 11th-ranked BABIP in the majors (.301) while only striking out 19.1% of the time. Their pitching staff ranks 26th in team ERA (4.22) and 21st in FIP (3.93). Their biggest struggles this season come in surrendering the fourth-highest BABIP (.310) in baseball and allowing the fourth-highest home run rate (1.06 HR/9) in the majors this season. Contradictory to that point, however, is the fact that their ground ball rate in sixth-highest in the majors this season (46.9%).

Pittsburgh has been dominant on offense this season, posting the sixth-highest wRC+ in baseball (105) and the tenth-highest offensive WAR (14.5) while batting .257/.332/.391 with a .321 wOBA. One of the main reasons for their success is their ability to draw walks at the seventh-highest rate in the majors (8.8%), and their BABIP which ranks eighth in the majors (.306). Pittsburgh is aided by a decent pitching staff, posting the 13rd-ranked team ERA (3.70), which drops all the way to 20th when looking at their FIP (4.00). They leave 73.8% of runners on base (14th in the majors), and struck out 7.23 batters/nine innings (23rd) which walking 3.03 batters/nine innings (19th).

Pittsburgh is coming off of winnings two of three games from the San Francisco Giants, and have gone 8-4 since the All-Star break. They are 23-29 on the road this season, and 57-50 overall, two games behind Milwaukee for first place in the NL Central. They are a half game behind San Francisco for the second wild card spot in the National League.

On The Mend

On Tuesday, the Pirates placed outfielder Starling Marte on the seven-day concussion disabled list.

Roster Moves

On Tuesday, the Diamondbacks optioned outfielder Alfredo Marte to Triple-A Reno, and recalled right hander Bo Schultz.

On Wednesday, Diamondbacks third baseman Eric Chavez announced his retirement from Major League Baseball.

Eric Chavez: Career Retrospective

On Wednesday, Diamondbacks third baseman Eric Chavez announced his retirement from Major League Baseball, wrapping up a career that had its share of ups and downs, but was still one of the most impressive for his position during that span. A look back:

-Six straight Gold Gloves (2001-06)

- 2002 AL Silver Slugger Award

- Batted .268/.342/.475 life time with career-high batting average of .288 (2001), on-base percentage of .397 (2004), and slugging percentage of .514 (2003).

- 318 career doubles, 260 career home runs, 902 career RBIs. Career high in home runs was 34 (2002), and in RBIs was 114 (2001). Four seasons with 100+ RBIs.

With injuries marring the second half of his career (including his prime), we may never know how great Chavez would have been. Regardless, he is to be regarded as one of the finest defensive third baseman of his era, as well as a very capable left handed bat.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Thursday 6:40 PT: LHP Jeff Locke (2-2, 3.54 ERA, 3.89 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (8-5, 4.03 ERA, 4.12 FIP)

Locke was shelled in his last start, giving up six runs on ten hits over 6.2 innings in a loss to the Colorado Rockies. Prior to that, he has given up just two earned runs over his previous 14 innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.81 ERA in four road starts this season. Collmenter is coming off of the worst start of his major league career in his last outing, lasting just 2.2 innings in giving up six runs on 11 hits against the Phillies. Collmenter is 6-2 with a 2.94 ERA in 14 appearances at home this season.

Game 2, Friday 6:40 PT: RHP Edison Volquez (8-7, 3.87 ERA, 4.48 FIP) vs. LHP Vidal Nuno (2-7, 4.97 ERA, 5.05 FIP)

Volquez struggled his way through 4.1 innings in his last start, throwing 99 pitches and giving up two runs and six hits against Colorado. He is 11-18 overall against the NL West in his career, but holds a 3.86 ERA in nine career starts against Arizona. Nuno had some defensive miscues go against him in his last start, giving up four runs (two earned) on four hits over 6.2 innings against the Phillies. He has yet to pick up a loss in either of his two starts at home this season.

Game 3, Saturday 5:10 PT: RHP Vance Worley (4-1, 2.54 ERA, 3.52 FIP) vs. RHP Chase Anderson (6-4, 3.34 ERA, 4.44 FIP)

Worley has been one of the pleasant surprises in baseball this season, and is coming off of the best start of his career. He threw a four-hit shutout at San Francisco in his last start, and has thrown six quality starts out of seven overall. He is 2-0 with a 2.73 ERA in four road starts this season. Anderson is coming off of his second straight no decision, giving up a run on three hits over seven innings against Cincinnati. Anderson has gone 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven starts at home this season.

Series Pick'em

I'd say Arizona takes one out of three games for this matchup, with the likeliest wins coming in the opener or the series finales. Both Locke and Collmenter are coming off of rough outings, but Collmenter typically turns things up at Chase Field. Volquez should out duel Nuno in the second game, but I think that the final game features two hot, young pitchers that nobody has been (and should be) talking about.