Arizona comes into the final series of 2014 after taking one of three games from the Minnesota Twins to prevent a 100-loss season. They ended their six-game slide on Monday off of a five-run fifth inning that powered the D-Backs to an easy 6-2 victory. Andrew Chafin struggled in his third major league start, giving up four earned runs over three innings pitched, and Arizona fell 6-3. Vidal Nuno failed to pick up his first D-Backs win yet again despite a solid outing (two runs over five innings), as the offense failed to get much of anything going in the 2-1 loss. Arizona returns home, where they are 32-46 this season. They are 63-96 this season, 27.5 games behind the Dodgers for first place in the NL West. They lead Texas by 2.5 games for the worst record in the majors.
The D-Backs offense is putrid at this point, ranking 28th in wRC+ (84) and 25th in offensive WAR (11.1), batting .249/.302/.377 as a team with a .300 wOBA. They also rank 24th in weighted runs above average (wRAA), posting a total of -50.2. Their pitching staff has continued to struggle, ranking 27th in ERA (4.29), 20th in FIP (3.86), and 24th in pitching WAR (10.2). They are, however, one of the top teams in the majors in SIERA, ranking tenth (3.58).
St. Louis is one of the best teams in the big leagues this year despite an average offense that ranks 14th in wRC+ (97) and ninth in offensive WAR (22.4), batting .254/.322/.373 with a .310 wOBA. They also rank 14th in the majors in wRAA (-6.6). Their pitching staff, on the other hand, is very good, ranking 12th in team ERA (3.50), 13th in FIP (3.63), and 17th in pitching WAR (13.2). They also rank 18th in the majors in SIERA (3.69).
The Cardinals come into the series after dropping two of three games to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, but have won six of their last ten games overall. They are 37-41 on the road this season, and are 88-71 overall with a 1.5 game lead over Pittsburgh for first place in the NL Central.
On The Mend
Cardinals center fielder John Jay left the team on Wednesday to attend to a personal matter, according to Jim Hayes of FOX Sports Midwest.
The End of the Season
It's the "End of the Season", and while Arizona's season was not as great as that Black Keys song was, let's look over some high points of this season:
- David Peralta: Considered an afterthought in Arizona's farm system, Peralta's call-up in early May sparked the Arizona offense as he emerged as a NL Rookie of the Year candidate. He goes into the final series batting .286/.319/.447 with seven home runs and 35 RBIs in 85 games this season.
- Chase Anderson: Like Peralta, Anderson was an early season call-up who emerged to be a driving force for the team. Anderson finishes 2014 with a 9-7 record and 4.01 ERA over 21 starts.
- A.J. Pollock: After some fans argued that Pollock should've been traded in the 2013 offseason, not Adam Eaton, Pollock broke through with a breakout first two months that silenced the critics. Despite having much of his season cut short due to injury, Pollock still is batting .307/.353/.512 with seven home runs and 23 RBIs through 85 games entering the final series of the season.
- Josh Collmenter: After being one of the most reliable middle and long relief arms in the majors in 2012 and 2013, manager Kirk Gibson elected to move the tomohawking right hander back into the rotation early in the 2014 season. It proved to be a great decision, with Collmenter going 11-8 with a 3.57 ERA going into his final start.
Game 1, Friday 6:40 PT: RHP Michael Wacha (5-6, 3.18 ERA, 3.16 FIP) vs. RHP Trevor Cahill (3-12, 5.55 ERA, 3.89 FIP)
Wacha looks to be rounding into form just as the Cardinals enter October, going 4.2 innings while giving up two runs and throwing 78 pitches in his last start, his highest total since returning from a hamstring injury. He is 0-6 with a 4.05 ERA on the road this season. Cahill has fallen apart of late, and has not won a game since Aug. 15. Last time out, he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to the Rockies.
Game 2, 5:10 PT: RHP Lance Lynn (15-10, 2.73 ERA, 3.25 FIP) vs. LHP Wade Miley (8-12, 4.35 ERA, 4.01 FIP)
Despite pitching well, he is 0-2 over his last three starts, including giving up the loss against Cincinnati in his last start after giving up three runs over six innings. He is 2.1 innings away from crossing the 200-inning plateau for the second time in his career. It has been up and down for Miley, who gave up six runs over 4.1 innings in a loss to the Rockies in his last start. He is 3-7 with a 5.72 ERA at home this season.
Game 3, 1:10 PT: RHP Adam Wainwright (20-9, 2.38 ERA, 2.87 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (11-8, 3.57 ERA, 3.94 FIP)
Wainwright has not been scored upon over his last 21 innings, including throwing seven scoreless in a win over the Cubs in his last start. He also goes into this start trying to set a new career-high for wins in a single season (21). Collmenter was great in his last start, giving up two runs over 6.1 innings in a win against the Twins. The win set a new career-high for a single season for Collmenter, who has a 1.29 ERA over his last six starts.
As much as I'd like to see Arizona win their final series of the season, I think St. Louis is going to pick up the sweep in this series. The pitching big three of Wacha, Miley, and Wainwright is just too much, and it doesn't help that our hottest pitcher (Collmenter) is facing someone that many pundits argue to be the best pitcher in the major leagues. I don't expect too much from Cahill, and Miley has been too up and down to come up with a truly brilliant performance here.