|PITTSBURGH PIRATES||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Adam Frazier - LF||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Josh Harrison - 3B||David Peralta - RF|
|Andrew McCutchen - CF||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Gregory Polanco - RF||Jake Lamb - 3B|
|Josh Bell - 1B||Chris Owings - 2B|
|Francisco Cervelli - C||Chris Herrmann - C|
|Jordy Mercer - SS||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Gift Ngoepe - 2B||Gregor Blanco - LF|
|Ivan Nova - RHP||Robbie Ray - LHP|
The D-backs have not won a series since April 27, when they finished the set against the Padres. Since then, they have lost two to the Rockies, one to the Nationals, and split the pair versus Detroit. That's not the mark of a team with hopes of contention, and settling for a split at home against the Pirates would certainly be disappointing. But last night's defeat means that the part to series victory goes through Nova, who has been Pittsburgh's best starting pitcher to date. In his seven starts, he has a 2.23 ERA, and has averaged almost seven innings per outing, with a pair of complete games.
That may explain why the team went with a lighter line-up yesterday, but appears to have wheeled out the big guns, offensively, with Herrmann behind the plate and the struggling Yasmany Tomas - 4-for-30 this month, with 11 strikeouts - sitting in favor of Blanco. The obvious exception here is Brandon Drury sitting, Torey Lovullo preferring to stick with the very hot hand of Nick Ahmed for the middle infield, after Ahmed had his first career multi-homer game yesterday. In May, he's 9-for-24 with three home-runs, and his 1.236 OPS is the best of anyone currently on the 25-man roster. Drury's key error yesterday may also suggest a "mental day", over-riding his earlier web gem.
Ray is still striking people out at a very commendable rate: Among qualifying starters in the National League, his K-rate of 12.41 per nine innings, trails only the Mets' Jacob DeGrom (12.66). The problem is, as we all know, the walks, where Ray flat out leads the National League so far, with 23 bases on balls. The odd thing is, thus far, there hasn't been that obvious a correlation between Ray's walks and the results. His best start by Game Score, the April 11 one in San Francisco, was a five-walk outing which still is tied for the season high. And his worst start, on April 22 against the Dodgers, was a two-walk game. But in general, the fewer BB's he issues, the happier I'll be!