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Series Preview #41, @ Cleveland Indians

After bouncing back well in their series against the Rockies, the Arizona Diamondbacks hit the road against the slipping Cleveland Indians.

Christian Petersen

What's New?

After getting swept at home in embarrassing fashion by the Royals, the Diamondbacks came back strong to take two of three from the Rockies and wrap up a 4-6 home stand. In Friday night's opener, a first-inning three-run home run by catcher Miguel Montero was all the Diamondbacks would need, as they would lead the whole way with Arizona winning 5-3. The offense would take center stage again on Saturday night, as Arizona would overcome an early deficit (and then some), putting together nine runs in the eighth inning as they would win 14-4. The Diamondbacks were unable to put together the sweep on Sunday, as Oliver Perez allowed the go-ahead runs to score in the tenth to give the Rockies a 5-3 win. Arizona heads back on the road, where they are 26-28 this season. They are 51-67 overall, 15.5 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. They trail the Padres by four games for third place.

The offensive outburst certainly helped the Diamondbacks in their offensive rankings, as they rank 20th in the majors in wRC+ (91) and in offensive WAR (11.5), batting .256/.309/.393 with a .309 wOBA. Arizona is actually one of the tougher to strike out in the bigs, with the eighth-lowest strikeout rate of any team in baseball (19.0%). Arizona's pitching remains one of the worst in baseball, with the 25th-ranked team ERA (4.31) and 22nd in FIP (3.93) this season, with a pitching WAR of 6.6 (27th). They struggle with the ling ball, giving up home runs at the fifth-highest rate in the majors (1.05 HR/9).

Cleveland has been helped this season through their solid offense, which ranks seventh in wRC+ (105) and their 18th-ranked offensive WAR (12.2), batting .256/.323/.399 with a .320 wOBA. They have a decent amount of pop in their bat, with a .143 ISO and a slugging percentage of .399 (ninth in the majors). Their pitching on the other hand, has been about decent with the 19th-ranked ERA (3.88) and 12th-ranked FIP in the majors (3.62), and has a pitching WAR of 12.3 (eighth). Where they mainly run into trouble is in giving up walks, which they do at the 11th-highest rate in the majors (3.04 BB/9). They do make up for it by being one of the best in the majors in striking out batters, as their 8.70 K/9 ranks second in the bigs.

The Indians are coming back home to Ohio after taking two out of three games in the Bronx from the Yankees, and going 2-3 on their five-game road trip. In fighting their way back to .500 for the season, the Indians have taken six of their last ten games, and have boosted their home record to 34-22. They are 59-59 overall, 5.5 games behind Detroit for first place in the AL Central. They are five games behind Kansas City for the second wild card spot in the National League.

On The Mend

On Sunday, the Indians placed first baseman Nick Swisher on the 15-day disabled list with a knee injury. Manager Terry Francona said Swisher will get an MRI Monday to determine if the injury is season-ending.

On the same day, the Indians also placed outfielder David Murphy on the 15-day disabled list with an abdominal strain he sustained during Cleveland's game on Saturday.

Roster Moves

After placing first baseman Nick Swisher and outfielder David Murphy on the 15-day disabled list, the Indians called up center fielder Tyler Holt and second baseman Zach Walters from Triple-A Columbus.

This Is Going To Be Tough...

Just as Arizona comes off of the high of winning a series at home against the Rockies, the tides look like they're about turn again on the road trip.

After an off day on Monday, the Diamondbacks kick off a ten-game road trip that features no days off, and matches them up against three teams who still think that they're in the playoff hunt. Just look at the records:

Indians: 59-59, third in AL Central

Marlins: 57-60, third in NL East

Nationals: 63-53, first in NL East

These series also feature matchups against some intimidating names in the major leagues, from Michael Brantley to Giancarlo Stanton, as well as Stephen Strasburg and Jayson Werth from the Nationals. Arizona, meanwhile, had (emphasis on the HAD) Paul Goldschmidt.

Oh, and Arizona gets no break when they come back, having to host the Padres for a three game set before finally getting an off day.

Good luck, Diamondbacks.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Tuesday 4:05 PT: RHP Josh Collmenter (8-6, 4.09 ERA, 4.18 FIP) vs. LHP T.J. House (1-3, 4.13 ERA, 4.17 FIP)

Collmenter was good, but not great in his last start, giving up three runs over six innings against the Royals but was saddled with the loss. He has struggled on the road this season with a 5.59 ERA over nine road appearances. House made it through six innings his last time out, but gave up four runs (three earned) in a loss to the Reds. He has pitched well since getting called back up from Triple-A, posting a 2.45 ERA over two starts. He has a 3.13 ERA over five home appearances this season.

Game 2, Wednesday 4:05 PT: LHP Vidal Nuno (2-8, 5.01 ERA, 4.39 FIP) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (4-7, 4.52 ERA, 4.05 FIP)

Nuno is coming off of a poor start against the Royals that saw him struggle early in giving up five runs over four innings, but has been solid as a D-Back in having three quality starts over six outings. Bauer, a former D-Backs prospect, has not found his way in the bigs, and gave up five runs over 3.1 innings in his last start against the Yankees. He is 3-2 with a 3.51 ERA over nine home starts this season.

Series Pick'em

I think Arizona manages a split from this two-game set in order to keep some of their momentum going. I like Collmenter (even with his road struggles) against House in the opener, and I think we'll see continued production from David Peralta and maybe even a game from Jake Lamb in this series. While Nuno has been a decent pickup for Arizona, I think Bauer comes back to haunt his former team both in the short term Wednesday and over the long term.