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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #129: A.J's return

We're delighted - and quite surprised - to welcome back A.J. Pollock to the Diamondbacks' line-up tonight at Chase Field.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
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Brandon Finnegan
LHP, 8-9, 4.32
Braden Shipley
RHP, 2-3, 5.45
Billy Hamilton - CF Jean Segura - 2B
Jose Peraza - SS A.J. Pollock - CF
Joey Votto - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Adam Duvall - LF Welington Castillo - C
Brandon Phillips - 2B Rickie Weeks - LF
Scott Schebler - RF Yasmany Tomas - RF
Eugenio Suarez - 3B Brandon Drury - 3B
Tucker Barnhart - C Chris Owings - SS
Brandon Finnegan - LHP Braden Shipley - RHP

When news broke of A.J. Pollock's injury just before the start of the season, it was more than conceivable that he would not be seen at all in 2016. Indeed, there were whispers that the damage was potentially career-ending. So I'm very pleased to see him back in the major-leagues, with more than a month left to play, after what seems like a remarkable recovery. A.J. certainly seems to have enjoyed his rehab stint. Across a dozen games in the minor-leagues, he batted .17-for-40 with three home-runs and a K:BB ratio of 2:7, for a line of .425/.511/.775, and an OPS of 1.286. Naturally, we'll be expecting him to match that the rest of the way...

Joking aside, it is going to be interesting to see what he brings to the team, most particularly at the top of the order, where he and Segura will form an intriguing 1-2 punch. If Pollock hits as he did, that'll be a pair of .300+ hitters there, both of whom have real speed [Pollock stole 39 bases last year, Segura is on pace for 34] Throw in 15-20 home-runs a year from each, then follow them up with Goldschmidt and it's a trio with the potential to be the stuff of nightmares for opposing pitchers. Might take a bit of time for Pollock to get back into the swing of things though, which probably makes it a good thing he has returned this year: Chase in September should be a nice, low-key environment!

Whatever happened to our pitchers hitting eighth? That seemed to be all the rage for Chip Hale at the start of the season, as he did so in nine of the first eleven games played. But it has now been more than a month since we last saw it - Braden Shipley being the last, on July 25. What's interesting is, the team's pitchers this season have the highest OPS in the National League at .430. That's quite a contrast to last season, when they finished 13th, almost 150 points lower at .284, and didn't get a single extra-base hit until their final at-bat of the entire year. This has been their best OPS since 2011, when they reached .480, mostly thanks to Zach Duke's .933 OPS.