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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #69: Regression's a bitch

Four games against the worst team in baseball over the past month? Don't mind if we do!

Rich Schultz/Getty Images
Robbie Ray
LHP, 3-5, 4.57
Adam Morgan
LHP, 1-5, 6.33
Jean Segura - 2B Odubel Herrera - CF
Michael Bourn - CF Cody Asche - LF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Tommy Joseph - 1B
Welington Castillo - C Maikel Franco - 3B
Peter O'Brien - LF Cameron Rupp - C
Yasmany Tomas - RF Freddy Galvis - SS
Jake Lamb - 3B Peter Bourjos - RF
Nick Ahmed - SS Adam Morgan - LHP
Robbie Ray - LHP Cesar Hernandez - 2B

Remember when the Phillies were good? Much like the Diamondbacks, they haven't been better than .500 since their last appearance in the post-season, which was in 2011. It had been downhill all the way since, culminating in a 99-loss 2015 season, yet this year started remarkably brightly: Less than a month ago (May 18), they had a 24-17 record, and were one-half game out of first place. However, this was almost entirely a mirage based on an amazing record in close games: the Phillies had, to that point, a 14-4 record in one-run games, and precisely zero victories by more than four runs. This led to the third-best record in the NL, despite having been outscored by 28 runs.

Their Pythagorean record was a full seven games better than their actual one, and many predicted that couldn't last. They were right. Since that point, regression has hammered Philadelphia mercilessly, and they've gone an MLB-worst 6-20 over that time (3.5 games worse than the Braves). Mind you, they have almost played down to that, having been outscored by 58 runs, more than two per game. Their Pythagorean record for this timeframe is only 7-19, and their one-run record is still 15-6, so there is still ample room for things to bounce back the other way, even harder. A few one-run losses over the next few games would be appropriate, I feel, especially as Arizona are 6-8 there.

Ray was excellent in his last start, spinning 7.2 scoreless innings as part of a shutout against the Marlins, for one of the best outings by a Diamondbacks starter this season. But it feels almost as if, before going on the DL, Rubby De La Rosa passed a magical Jersey of Inconsistency to Ray: he has had good outings before this season, but hasn't strung together consecutive quality starts for virtually two months (April 19) .To some extent, it has been the usual issue, with Ray taking too many pitches to get his outs: this builds up over innings, and before you know it, he's tossing his 100th pitch in the middle of the fifth inning. Hopefully, facing the Phillies will be a nice confidence boost for him.