Arizona Diamondbacks (51-73) vs Atlanta Braves (45-79)
Fun fact: The Diamondbacks have allowed the most runs per game in the majors thus far, at 5.54 runs per game. I still cannot believe how horribly wrong this season has gone. Instead of complaining about how bad the Diamondbacks are (which I could do for a while), let’s jump into the preview!
State of the Braves
The Braves are on track to win 59 games. That’s bad! Really really bad! Their offense is the worst in the majors, scoring a measly 3.61 runs per game. Freddie Freeman is the only source of happiness for the Braves offense, with 24 homers and a .922 OPS. Their only other player with an OPS+ above 100 is power-hitting catcher Tyler Flowers. The outfield isn’t the worst outfield ever, with Nick Markakis, Jeff Francoeur (popular on this website), and some guy named Ender Inciarte. I just noticed a fun stat which I must share with you, Freddie Freeman is the only Brave with double digit homers. The D-Backs have 6 guys with more than 10 homers.
- Overall, the D-Backs are a better team than the Braves. When is the last time you could definitively say that about the D-Backs?
- Jean Segura continues to be a bright spot, with a .360 batting average in August.
- This Mitch Haniger guy has made a solid first impression. Would be nice if he could sustain this performance throughout August and September.
- Hahahaha the D-Backs bullpen.
- Jake Lamb is batting .194 with 4 homers in the second half. Sad face.
The D-Backs will be without Nick Ahmed for the rest of the year, it was announced recently that he would undergo season ending surgery. Chris Hermann is currently rehabbing, A.J. Pollock just began AAA rehab, and everyone else has either experienced setbacks or will be out for the majority of the season.
On the Braves side, catcher A.J. Pierzynski hit the DL last week. They also have 8 pitchers on the DL, which explains why they’ve used so many starting pitchers this season.
Game 1: Zack Godley RHP (4-2, 4.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP) vs Mike Foltynewicz RHP (6-5, 4.45 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Godley was excellent in his first start since taking over for Patrick Corbin, going 7.1 innings and allowing 2 runs. The next month will play a big role in determining whether or not Godley has a shot in the 2017 rotation. I root for Godley to succeed because it’s cool when he sprints off the mound every inning.
We will refer to Foltynewicz as "Folty" for the rest of this paragraph, because I don’t really want to attempt to spell his name any more than I have to. His fastball can reach the high-90s, and he has a good gap in velocity with his mid-80s slider and mid-70s curve, but he has been unable to put everything together and get consistent results. He faced the D-Backs once in early May, where he had one of his better starts of the year. I’ll give a slight edge to Folty.
Game 2: Archie Bradley RHP (4-8, 5.04 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) vs Rob Whalen RHP (1-2, 5.73 ERA, 1.18 WHIP)
Archie Bradley has entered a bit of a tailspin since August began, with a 9.00 ERA in 4 starts. He is walking 5 batters per 9 innings this month, which is problematic. A walk every other inning is not a healthy recipe for success. Throw in an unusually high BABIP, and wahlaa, you have an ERA of 9 in a month.
Who the heck is Rob Whalen? That’s a good question, reader, one that I had too upon seeing his name in the Atlanta probables. He made his debut on the 3rd of this month, and will be making his 5th start on Tuesday. After having an ERA in the low 2s in the minors, major league life isn’t treating Whalen too well. He has allowed at least 3 runs in all 4 of his starts, including a 6 run, 5 inning performance a week and a half ago. Don’t expect much. Advantage D-Backs
Game 3: Zack Greinke RHP (11-4, 4.21 ERA, 1.23 WHIP) vs Julio Teheran RHP (3-9, 2.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP)
Greinke’s first start since coming back from injury: not bad. His third start: very good. His second start: a large ball of fire and sadness. Let’s hope for not a large ball of fire and sadness.
Atlanta’s Julio Teheran has had a solid career up to this point, but is in the midst of a breakout year. His ERA is the best it’s ever been, right around 3, though his win-loss record has been plagued by a lack of run support. Hey, maybe they’ll be able to suck some foolish team into trading their top prospects and an everyday starter for him. I wonder if the Braves have ever pulled off a deal like that.
Game 4: Robbie Ray LHP (7-11, 4.31 ERA, 1.41 WHIP) vs TBA
Ray just had one of the best starts by a Diamondback pitcher this year, allowing a single hit (a homer) over 7 innings, while striking out a whopping 13 batters. Like Michael wrote on Sunday, Ray’s fastball hits the upper 90’s consistently, his slider has become a devastating pitch, and his peripherals suggest that he could be transforming into a top starter. I was never a big Robbie Ray fan during the early parts of the season, frustrated by his inability to go deep into games, but I’ve been converted into a believer.
The Braves don’t have a guy listed to pitch yet for Thursday, but I can give you a general idea of what a preview for whatever pitcher they go with would look like: (random last name) has been forced to pitch this year due to injury, and has not been impressive. He’s making only his (number under 10) start this season, and has an ERA over 5 in his last few starts. (insert random split), which may explain his struggles this year. Advantage D-Backs.
The D-Backs and Braves split the series 2 games a piece.