Arizona Diamondbacks (53-36) @ Atlanta Braves (42-45)
The D-Backs lead the Cubs and Cardinals by 9.5 games for a wild card spot. They blew my expectations out of the water, they blew your expectations out of the water. Even after a rough skid into the All-Star Break, the team is still on pace to win 96 games.
96 is a lot of games to win for a team that was expected to be good. The Diamondbacks were not expected to be good, making their performance even more enjoyable. The most optimistic prediction here at the Pit was 85 wins from Turambar. What a year from the D-Backs, and we still have another half to look forward to.
After 2 seasons which saw Atlanta post win totals in the high-60s, the Braves have become respectable. Sure, being a few games under .500 isn’t fantastic, but the Braves were never supposed to be good this season. When you have 9 of the top 100 prospects in baseball (not including Dansby Swanson), you’ll take a couple meh years. However, for the next 3 games we don’t care about the future of Atlanta. Let’s take a look at how this year’s team is faring.
On offense, the Braves are led by Freddie Freeman, who has posted a 208 OPS+ thus far. If this number holds up over the second half, he would be the 8th player in the last 50 years to have an OPS+ over 200. The second and third best hitters for Atlanta this season are both very surprising names: Matt Adams and Tyler Flowers. Both are in the midst of career years, and I expect both to regress. Matt Kemp, Ender Inciarte, and Nick Markakis roam the SunTrust Park outfield. Kemp is having a nice season offensively, with a triple slash of .293/.340/.486, but defensive struggles make the left fielder a -0.7 WAR player. Ouch. Inciarte probably deserves as much credit for covering left field as Kemp does. Finally, the player you’ve all been waiting to hear about... Dansby Swanson. After spending only half of 2015 and half of 2016 in the minors, Swanson was called up in mid-August of 2016 to be the Braves starting shortstop. After posting good numbers last season, the 23 year old has struggled mightily this year. His triple slash is .221/.296/.324, but keep in mind how young he is. If Swanson continues to hit like this in 2019, then Braves fans can begin panicking. Right now though, he is still developing.
In the Atlanta bullpen, there aren’t any shutdown relievers. Their best reliever this year ERA-wise has been Jose Ramirez, who has posted a 2.70 ERA. However, his 4.07 FIP and 4.24 career ERA indicates that this year has been a fluke. The D-Backs should be able to make one of their patented rallies if they trail late in a game.
On the position player side, Nick Ahmed and Yasmany Tomas are still on the DL and won’t be returning soon. Pitching-wise, J.J. Hoover and Rubby De La Rosa are both sidelined with right shoulder inflammation and will not be returning until at least the end of the month.
Now that Freddie Freeman is back from injury, the Braves enter this weekend’s series fairly healthy. They’ll be missing two utility infielders as well as a couple relievers.
Game 1: Taijuan Walker RHP (6-4, 3.65 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs R.A. Dickey RHP (6-5, 4.23 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
I have a theory that the Game of Thrones bobblehead night will curse Walker.
ERA before GoT night: 3.30
ERA after GoT night: 9.00
There you have it folks. He’s doomed, like the Snow People were doomed to the Fire Wizards in season two. I watch the show, I know what I’m talking about.
R.A. Dickey, the third oldest player in baseball, is putting together yet another productive season. If his ERA+ of 103 holds up this year, he will have pitched his 9th consecutive season with an ERA+ above 95. That sort of consistency is very impressive, especially for someone in his early 40s. Dickey had been excellent in his four starts leading up to the All-Star Break, pitching 27 innings and allowing only 3 runs. Expect an evenly matched game Friday night.
Game 2: Patrick Corbin LHP (6-9, 4.71 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) vs Mike Foltynewicz RHP (7-5, 3.77 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Patrick Corbin has been sneaky good as of late, with a 3.07 ERA in his last 5 games. I know that his 13 previous starts and his 2016 season hold more weight than just 5 outings... yet here I am, allowing the hope to seep in. Keep the quality starts coming, Patrick.
Foltynewicz was Atlanta’s first round pick in the 2010 draft. After struggling in his first 3 seasons as a big leaguer, the flame-throwing righty is finally coming into his own. In the past, Foltynewicz was known as a “great stuff, no command” guy. 2017 seems to be the year where he is finally finding that command. Advantage Braves.
Game 3: Zack Godley RHP (3-3, 2.58 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) vs Jaime Garcia LHP (2-7, 4.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP)
Zack Godley has the lowest ERA of any D-Backs starter this year, just like we all predicted. In every single start this year, Godley has gone at least 5 innings while allowing 3 runs or less. With every start, it seems more and more likely that Godley is for real.
Jaime Garcia had a bit of an implosion heading into the All-Star Break, posting a 9.41 ERA in his last 4 starts. However, he is a lefty, and Arizona’s struggles against lefties have been well documented. The team currently has a triple slash of .225/.287/.378 when facing a southpaw. Still, I like Arizona’s chances with Godley on the mound. Advantage D-Backs.
D-Backs take 2 of 3 in a series of high scoring games.
How many games do the D-Backs take against Atlanta?
This poll is closed