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Game #32 Preview: 5/12, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Washington Nationals

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Well, at least tonight can't go any worse, short of the entire Diamondbacks dugout being taken out by a stray meteor.

Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Stephen Strasburg
RHP, 2-3, 4.73
Rubby De La Rosa
RHP, 3-2, 4.38
Denard Span - CF Ender Inciarte - CF
Yunel Escobar - 3B Mark Trumbo - RF
Jayson Werth - LF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Bryce Harper - RF David Peralta - LF
Ryan Zimmerman - 1B Aaron Hill - 3B
Wilson Ramos - C Chris Owings - 2B
Ian Desmond - SS Tuffy Gosewisch - C
Danny Espinosa - 2B Nick Ahmed - SS
Stephen Strasburg - RHP Rubby De La Rosa - RHP

If Rubby can avoid giving up nine runs in the first two innings, that would be... just dandy, thank you very much. On the plus side, that kind of monstrous early blow-out is entirely definitive: you can watch the rest of the game (or not), under absolutely no illusions about the final outcome. It's the very definition of stress-free baseball. Naturally, I'd rather we were on the winning side of such a score, as for example, we were in the opening game of the Padres series. But in the scheme of fandom, it's likely less heartbreaking than the one on Saturday night, where we clawed our way back, scorning not once but twice against the best closer in the game... And still lost anyway.

But if you wanted a cold, hard reality check on the true talent level of the D-backs, and not least the gulf between our #1 starter and that of a genuinely contending team, last night would be it. While I love Josh Collmenter dearly, putting him in the role of "staff ace" is just not fair on the guy. On his good days, sure, he can likely keep up with the best of them, but those are the top end of a very sharp curve. Collmenter has eight career starts with a Game Score in excess of 70, which is 11% of them; Scherzer has 44 such outings, almost twice the rate (21%). The margin of last night's defeat is a good deal more surprising than its existence.

Will tonight be any better? That would depend largely on which Rubby De La Rosa shows up for Arizona. Though it will also depend on which Strasburg shows up, since his performances this year have been unconvincing, with just a single quality start in half a dozen efforts. De La Rosa has been good two out of his last three outings, but the third one - in Los Angeles - was bad enough still to cast a shadow over things going forward. It's no surprise he walked a season-high number of batters there. The same goes for De La Rosa as Collmenter last night, despite their radically different styles: it all starts with the ability to locate the fastball. Without that, trouble is nearly inevitable.