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Snake Bytes 7/18: Can’t Lose if you Don’t Play

The Diamondbacks will attempt to change their recent fortunes in Cincinnati.

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Diamondbacks have lost 4 of their last 5 series and have been swept in 2 of the previous 3. That stretch has seen them go from 22 games above .500 on June 27th to 14 games above .500 today. They can salvage an even road trip with a series sweep in Cincinnati before heading back to Phoenix. Robbie Ray (8-4, 2.97 ERA) takes the bump after an 11 day rest going against Sal Romano (1-1, 4.50 ERA).

Diamondbacks News

[The Ringer] Wait, Who Has the Best Starting Rotation in Baseball? - The lone bright spot over the past month has been the starting rotation which makes Zack Godley’s stumble on Sunday slightly concerning. For the team to remain in control of the wild card race, the lineup only needs marginal improvement as the starting rotation provides an opportunity to win nearly every night. A collapse now from the starting five paired with current struggles would make for a painful second half.

There are 29 starters this season with an ERA+ of 130 or better in at least 60 innings pitched. The Diamondbacks have five: Greinke, Ray, Godley, Taijuan Walker, and Randall Delgado... Houston (Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers, Brad Peacock) is the only other team with more than two such pitchers.

[ABC 15] Don't give up on the Arizona Diamondbacks just yet - The comforting news out this difficult stretch is that the Diamondbacks still control their own fate after playing so well in the first half. Throwing in the towel now would be a significant disappointment. Are there any reasonable outside additions that can be had without sacrificing future seasons?

[D’] Ray ready for Reds after 11 days of rest - What is done is done, but perhaps starting Robbie Ray in the first game after the All Star Break would have prevented the recent stumble out of the gate. Ray last pitched against the Dodgers in Los Angeles where he struck out 13 in 6 innings before Fernando Rodney imploded. The team will rely on Ray and Zack Greinke this series to end the suffering.

[Arizona Sports] MLB Network video shows a day with the D-backs - The team won its 50th game on June 27th. Nearly a month later and they stand at only 53 wins. MLB Network had the team mic’d up for that game which ended in a Chris Herrmann walkoff in the 10th. It was the 2017 in a nutshell up to that point. Can the team lean on that chemistry and return to its winning ways?

[Venom Strikes] Second half schedule will test team’s resiliency - The schedule after July will do the team no favors. Success in August and September will prove that Arizona is worthy of a playoff spot. They will face the best team in baseball when they play the Houston Astros, and the second best team is in their own division in the form of the Dodgers. The Chicago Cubs are still on the docket and will treat every series as a dog fight if they wish to return to the post season. Colorado will attempt to fend of its own second half struggles. The Minnesota Twins and Kansas City Royals will each see Arizona as well as they battle for the AL Central title in the waning days of the season. Torey Lovullo’s squad will need to play spoiler and predator in the quest for October baseball.

Around the League

[ESPN] Power Rankings: The best teams have first-half promises to keep - Standings in ESPN’s poll remain relatively unchanged. Arizona keeps its #5 spot there. Sports Illustrated drops them 3 spots down to #6. places Arizona at #5 as well. Bleacher Report has the snakes rounding out the top 10.

The Diamondbacks currently own the top wild-card slot in the National League, meaning two teams would need to pass them to scuttle plans for October. If the D-Backs merely play .500 ball from now through the end of the season, they’ll end up with 88 wins. After the Rockies, the next closest wild-card contender is Chicago, which would need to play at a 98-win pace the rest of the season to get to 89. Those are encouraging odds to have working in your favor.

[Bleacher Report] The MLB Team on a Mission to Hoard All of the League's Future Superstars - The Diamondbacks currently possess one of the thinnest farm systems in regard to impact talent. On the bright side (?), their best assets have built significant value over the first half should they fall out of contention by the deadline. Waiver wire deals can still be made after the non-waiver deadline as well. The chances of Arizona falling that far from grace and Mike Hazen sticking a for sale sign out front are slim to none. However, the blueprint exists for the team to replenish the minor leagues. That is a long 5 years I do not want to contemplate.

[USA Today] Giants' NL-record sellout streak ends in 5-3 loss to Indians - I think the more shocking figure to point out here is that the lowly Giants managed to draw a crowd of 39,538 on a Monday. This is a last place team. Their streak of 530 consecutive sellouts was a Senior Circuit record.

[Sporting News] Pair of first-place teams lose regulars in Monday defeats - This could possibly shake up what moves are made at the trade deadline. The Astros Carlos Correa went down with a thumb injury. The loss of their All Star shortstop will not require a trade acquisition on their behalf as they have the talent to fill in for him not to mention their sizable lead on the AL West. The Brewers, however, may need a replacement catcher if Stephen Vogt misses an extended period of time. He was removed from the game after a collision at the plate. J.D. Martinez was also removed although that may have to do with a potential trade as much as a possible injury.

[CBS Sports] Baseball themed gender reveal goes hilariously wrong when dad takes a pitch - Gotta take a swinging bunt on this one if you have to, dude. Perhaps set it on a tee next time?