Arizona Diamondbacks (54-56) vs Philadelphia Phillies (45-67)
The D-Backs have had a successful week, splitting a 4-game series with Washington, and winning 2 out of 3 against Cincinnati. They have a very easy 6-game stretch coming up, heading out to Atlanta after this series against the Phillies. If the Diamondbacks want to hold onto that small shred of hope they have of making the playoffs, they'll need to win 5 or 6 of these games. The D-Backs are 7.5 games behind the Dodgers for first in the West, and 8 back of a wild card spot. It's a tough margin to make up with just 52 games left, but it's not impossible. The D-Backs will need starting pitching performances like they got against the Reds to have a shot.
As expected, the Phillies have been extremely terrible this year, currently locked in a tight battle with the Marlins for worst team. The Phillies actually just swept the Padres (lolz Padres), holding them to 3 or less runs in each game. They are not good at scoring runs, 27th in runs per game, and also not very good at preventing the other team from scoring runs, 29th in runs allowed per game. This combination generally leads to a lot of losses. I looked around for a long time trying to find something the Phillies were good at, and I did find something that the Phillies are top 5 in: games played. They rank tied for 5th, at 111. High five Philadelphia.
- In case you haven't watched a D-Backs game in the last week or two to hear incessant talk of Beef Welington and #beefmode, Castillo has been absolutely killing the ball. 7 homers and a slugging percentage of .973. I'm sure Seattle is thrilled with how that trade is going...
- Other hot hitters include Jake Lamb and David Peralta, who moved his average for the last 2 weeks to .452 after a 5-for-5 night Sunday.
- The Phillies bullpen has been really good since Papelbon left. 6 out of 7 guys bullpen guys have ERA's better than 1.29 since he got traded. Justin De Fratus has been the odd man out, with a 10.57 ERA, so maybe we luck out and get to face him.
- I have no further bad news for you. Coming off a nice series win, going into what should be another win, let's all be happy.
The D-Backs would probably prefer not to use Daniel Hudson Monday, after he threw 26 pitches Sunday. Everyone else should be good to go. While we're on the subject of the bullpen, what ever happened to Matt Reynolds? I know he was recovering from TJ surgery at the beginning of the year, and then poof he disappeared.
The Phillies will try to avoid using righty Hector Neris on Monday, who threw 27 pitches on Sunday. This is a good thing for Arizona, as he has a 2.87 ERA in 15.2 innings this year.
Nothing new on the injury front for the Diamondbacks, or Phillies. Hooray, less work for me.
Game 1: Rubby de la Rosa RHP (9-5, 4.56 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs Aaron Harang RHP (5-12, 4.11 ERA, 1.32 WHIP)
Rubby has had two problems that really stand out when you look at his numbers: homers and left handed batters. I have talked about the homers a lot in past previews, so I will focus more on the lefties this week. This year, lefties have had a triple slash of .303/.360/.571 against De La Rosa. Righties, on the other hand, have a triple slash of .207/.263/.318. That is a difference of .350 in OPS. This has gotta change soon, especially on Monday when he faces a lineup that generally features somewhere between 5 and 6 left handed or switch hitters.
Aaron Harang is 37 years old, and having a year that ERA-wise is actually slightly better than his career average. Pretty impressive. After a great start to the year, where 10 out of 11 outing were quality starts, the wheels have come off for Harang, who has a 7.46 ERA in his last 8 games. He isn't going to overpower anyone with his high 80s-low 90s fastball, but he just finds a way to get it done. Because of the Phillies' lineup loaded with lefties, I'm giving the Phillies the advantage in this one.
Game 2: Jeremy Hellickson RHP (7-8, 5.06 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) vs David Buchanan RHP (2-6, 7.23 ERA, 1.75 WHIP)
Jeremy Hellickson is still a very mediocre pitcher, and is showing no signs of changing. When Jeremy is "on", he'll go 6-7 innings and give up 2-3 runs, which doesn't even happen half the time. When he's off, you get starts like his last 2: 4 or 5 innings and 5 or 6 runs. I would like to see him moved somewhere to make room for Aaron Blair, but I doubt this will happen in Hellickson's first year here.
Buchanan's second year isn't going anywhere near as well as his first year, where he had a 3.75 ERA in 20 starts with the Phillies. This year, he has failed to get through 6 innings in 6 out of his 9 starts, which is not too good. David throws two types of fastballs, both in the high-80s, along with a curve and a change-up. The D-Backs should have a lot of success against this guy. Advantage D-Backs.
Game 3: Chase Anderson RHP (5-4, 4.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP) vs Aaron Nola RHP (2-1, 3.65 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
Getting a couple weeks of recovery on the DL seems to be just what Anderson needed. He threw 7 shutout innings on Friday, allowing 4 hits, walking 2, and striking out 7. He got the big outs when he needed to, and most importantly didn't give up any homers. The long ball is what had been killing Chase before his DL stint, where he had given up 9 in 5 games. If he stays away from the home run like he did in the first half of the season, he'll be golden. If he doesn't, it could be a short night for him.
Nola was the 7th overall pick in the 2015 draft, and will be making his 5th big league start on Wednesday. He's been solid so far, still without that big blow-up start you see a lot of guys have at the beginning of their career. Maybe we'll see that start against Arizona? A really good preview of Nola was done here over at Fangraphs. If you don't want to read that, the short version is he is a guy who's specialty is his command. He has walked just 4% of batters in the minors. Nola has 3 main pitches, fastball, curve, and change, all of which are about average. I look forward to seeing the young guy, maybe we hear his name a lot over the next few years. Advantage D-Backs for this one.
I say the Diamondbacks get the sweep, continuing the momentum they built up on Alumni Weekend.