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Game #85 Preview: 7/10, Arizona Diamondbacks @ New York Mets

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After a pause yesterday to look around and enjoy the view from .500, can the Diamondbacks continue to climb? Or will they come down with a case of altitude sickness in the Big Apple?

Mets GM Sandy Alderson wishes he was any place else.
Mets GM Sandy Alderson wishes he was any place else.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Chase Anderson
RHP, 4-2, 3.71
Noah Syndergaard
RHP, 3-4, 3.38
A.J. Pollock - CF Curtis Granderson - RF
David Peralta - LF Ruben Tejada - SS
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Daniel Murphy - 3B
Yasmany Tomas - RF Wilmer Flores - 2B
Jake Lamb - 3B Lucas Duda - 1B
Welington Castillo - C Michael Cuddyer - LF
Chris Owings - 2B Kevin Plawecki - C
Nick Ahmed - SS Noah Syndergaard - RHP
Chase Anderson - RHP Juan Lagares - CF

The Diamondbacks should be feeling pretty good, having taken five of their last six. However, those were against the Rockies and Rangers; the Mets should pose a significantly tougher test of whether the Diamondbacks are contenders or pretenders. And I should stress, I'm speaking in terms of the .500 mark for now: let's establish our credentials in regard to that first, before seeking to attain any loftier goals. Against teams with losing records, the team has done well, posting a 25-17 record that's fifth-best in the National League. But against opponents at or above .500? It's the reverse, a 17-25 mark that is four wins below league average.

Considering we currently sit four games back in the wild-card race, it's clear where the team needs to improve if they are to prosper. This series in New York and the one following it on the other side of the All-Star break, at home against San Francisco, will provide a better litmus test of our credentials. If we can at least split those six games, then we'll be in good shape going into what should be another "easy" stretch of games, against Miami, Milwaukee and Seattle, with seven of those ten contests being at home. But it would be particularly nice to take two of three here, so we can enjoy the four days off with a winning record.

It won't be easy, though it's worth noting we actually have a better run differential than the Mets, despite their better record. We have outscored our opponents by six runs, the Mets have been outscored by eight runs, so by this metric they have been "luckier" than us. Also worth noting, the Mets are where they are, largely because they have beaten up on their own division: they are 21-27 elsewhere [we are 18-19 outside the NL West]. They have also cooled off a lot, and don't have a winning record over their last 10, 20 or 30 games, while the Diamondbacks are above .500 in each of those. I'm cautiously optimistic for the series, and a win tonight would go a long way to confirming that optimism.