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How the Diamondbacks can optimize their roster for the Wild Card play-in game against the Rockies

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In a win or go home situation, the Dbacks must find a way to optimize the talent they have into the best 25-man roster possible.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Diamondbacks will host the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday for a chance to play in the National League Division Series. We already know who the Rockies starting pitcher will be, it will be Jon Gray. The Dbacks will counter with Zack Greinke, who’s been nothing short of terrific at Chase Field this year. Since the team doesn’t have to carry the same roster in the Wild Card game as they do for the NLDS, that allows for creative roster construction methods just to get an edge for a single game.

Greinke faced the Rockies 5 times over the regular season, with the Dbacks going 2-3 in those games while Greinke personally went 2-1. Taking a look at the box scores, this is how I see the Rockies lineup looking for that game:

  1. Charlie Blackmon, CF (L)
  2. D.J. LeMahieu, 2B (R)
  3. Nolan Arenado, 3B (R)
  4. Carlos Gonzalez, RF (L)
  5. Trevor Story, SS (R)
  6. Mark Reynolds, 1B (R)
  7. Gerardo Parra, LF (L)
  8. Jonathan Lucroy, C (R)
  9. Jon Gray, P (R)

Dbacks Starting Line-Up:

The Dbacks have faced Jon Gray three times, with Gray looking sharp in 2 of them and taking a close loss in a 3rd. Gray is very much the power pitcher the Rockies envisioned he’d be so the Dbacks need to construct their lineup with disciplined hitters to help drive up the pitch count.

  1. David Peralta, LF (L)
  2. Chris Iannetta, C (R)
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B (R)
  4. J.D. Martinez, RF (R)
  5. Jake Lamb, 3B (L)
  6. A.J. Pollock, CF (R)
  7. Daniel Descalso, 2B (L)
  8. Ketel Marte, SS (S)
  9. Zack Greinke, P (R)

The main reason for batting Iannetta 2nd is because of his success in that lineup spot and also because his bat profiles well for that spot. Iannetta is capable of drawing walks or hitting extra base hits, which puts runners in scoring position for Goldy, Martinez, and Lamb to drive in. I moved Descalso down in the order so that way Gray couldn’t just cruise through the bottom and focus on the top 5 hitters in the lineup. Descalso and Marte even if they don’t get on base, they will grind long ABs in the bottom of the order. Hopefully Marte is able to play on Wednesday because Adam Rosales is terrible.

Bullpen:

That type of lineup will make things difficult for Torey Lovullo to play match-ups in the bullpen with his left-handed relievers. That almost necessitates having a 3rd LHP in the bullpen, which means Patrick Corbin or Robbie Ray needs to be available in that capacity. With Ray likely ticketed for Game 1 of the NLDS should the Dbacks win this game, the obvious candidate is Corbin. Since Corbin pitched in the rotation the entire year, he’s used to facing lineups stacked with right-handed hitters so he might be more useful in a situation where Blackmon or Gonzalez are leading off an inning, because it’s likely he’d face two lefties. In a 1-out only situation, the best pitcher to bring in for a left-on-left match-up is Jorge De La Rosa, who has done an amazing job of stranding runners.

With a lineup that has 5 right-handed hitters and 3 lefties, right-handed relief is also going to have to be sharp. I would take another pitcher from the rotation and add him to the bullpen. The obvious candidate would be Zack Godley, and this is not a demotion because Lovullo and Mike Hazen trying to build the best roster to win 1 game. Should Greinke stumble or get hurt, plug in Godley to bridge the gap to the bullpen. Now on the topic of how the bullpen would work if Greinke does his job, this comes down to batter vs. pitcher match-ups. So the obvious thing to have is a capable right-handed reliever platoon with the two match-up lefties in the pen. That could mean Bradley could end up getting up to as many as 6 outs to bridge the gap to Rodney, who will pretty much be utilized the same way as he would be in the regular season. Other relievers to add would be Jimmie Sherfy and *gulp* J.J. Hoover. Ideally Hoover never pitches.

Fernando Rodney, Archie Bradley, Patrick Corbin, Jimmie Sherfy, Andrew Chafin, Jorge De La Rosa, Zack Godley, J.J. Hoover, Robbie Ray (in case of extreme emergency!), Taijuan Walker (SHTF situation!)

Bench:

With a game that could be very close (i.e. 1-run or tied), the weapon of a pinch-runner could be useful, particularly if that runner is running for Chris Iannetta, J.D. Martinez, or Jake Lamb. So the obvious options are Rey Fuentes, Jeremy Hazelbaker, or Chris Owings. The player with the fastest sprinting speed of that group is Fuentes at 28.8 ft/s, so I’m going with him along with Owings’ availability in question. The normal bench guys will also be on the roster, so Brandon Drury, Chris Herrmann, Gregor Blanco, Adam Rosales, Jeff Mathis. The last roster spot goes to Taijuan Walker, although you can give that roster spot to a position player.

Jeff Mathis, Brandon Drury, Gregor Blanco, Rey Fuentes, Adam Rosales