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Game #18 Preview: 4/26, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

The Diamondbacks find themselves potentially being swept at home by the Pirates - the offense needs to wake up a sight more than they were in the first two games,

One of these things is not like the others...
One of these things is not like the others...
Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Francisco Liriano
LHP, 0-1, 3.00
Jeremy Hellickson
RHP, 1-2, 4.58
Josh Harrison - 3B Ender Inciarte - LF
Gregory Polanco - RF A.J. Pollock - CF
Andrew McCutchen - CF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Neil Walker - 2B Mark Trumbo - RF
Starling Marte - LF Yasmany Tomas - 3B
Pedro Alvarez - 1B Chris Owings - 2B
Jordy Mercer - SS Jordan Pacheco - C
Chris Stewart - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Francisco Liriano - LHP Jeremy Hellickson - RHP

Despite the outburst in the second game against Texas, this homestand has seen the offense sputter badly: held to a single run in three of the four games, and with an overall line of .222/.272/.274 in almost 150 PAs. The lack of power has been particularly disappointing: we've managed only one home-run and 26 of the 30 hits have been singles. Though I suppose we should be grateful we haven't been shut out to date: ourselves and the Mets are the only National League clubs who have yet to be blanked this season. Considering that happened 13 times in total last season to the Diamondbacks, we are doing a bit better.

Part of the problem are the multiple black holes in the line-up. We currently have three regular players (more than 40 PA) who possess an OPS+ of below 30: Tuffy Gosewisch (27), Aaron Hill (20) and Nick Ahmed (8). There are only 13 like that in the entire majors; the utterly woeful Brewers are the only other NL team with more than one such everyday player, and even they still only have two (sadly, including Gerardo Parra, off to a .167/.186/.238 start). Now, you can't expect everyone on a team to be great, or even average, but when you have multiple spots in your order that are almost automatic outs, it means your good hitters MUST produce, day in and day out. It's a lot to ask.

Yes, it's still barely out of the first 10% of the season. But what's concerning is, I'm not sure how much upside we should expect. You can look at others among the 13, and say, "Well, Chase Utley isn't going to hit .125 forever." But Gosewisch and Ahmed have never hit major-league pitching at anything close to league average, and Hill's pull tendencies are now almost freakishly exaggerated: he has hit precisely two balls past the infield to the right of center so far. I think we need a better balance between pitching and offense: even during the current run of nine consecutive quality starts, we have a losing record, and that's because in the five losses we scored six runs.

Of course, saying we need more offense is one thing; obtaining it is another. Unless the Brandon Drury era begins a great deal earlier than expected, it's something I can' see changing immediately. This may just end up being one of the less-pleasant aspects of the 2015 season, which we just have to grit our teeth and accept.