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Preview #89: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds

And the first half comes to a close.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Billy Hamilton - CF A.J. Pollock - CF
Scooter Gennett - 2B David Peralta - RF
Joey Votto - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Adam Duvall - LF Jake Lamb - 3B
Eugenio Suarez - 3B Chris Owings - 2B
Scott Schebler - RF Chris Iannetta - C
Jose Peraza - SS Ketel Marte - SS
Tucker Barnhart - C Gregor Blanco - LF
Homer Bailey - RHP Patrick Corbin - LHP

You might not know it from social media for the past week. But regardless of whether they win or lose this afternoon, the Diamondbacks will complete the best first-half in franchise history. The previous best record was 51-36, which they reached both in 2001 and 2002, and they go into the rubber game against the Cincinnati Reds with a record of 53-35. It’s currently six games ahead of where they were at the break, when they last made the playoffs in 2011 (49-43), and seven up on the 2007 team to the same point (47-43). With the nearest non-wild card team, the Cubs, allowing 10 runs in the first at home to the Pirates, a win today would put us 10.5 games up on them.

There’s no doubt what has got us this far: it’s the pitching. Our team ERA to date is 3.45, which is a full 0.36 runs better than in any other season. It’s half a run or more improved on any of the Johnson and Schilling days, though admittedly, those did take place in a more generally offensive era. The team is striking out batters at a staggering rate: a franchise record 9.38 per nine innings. Only one other first half even (and barely) reached eight, it being that peak Randy/Curt season of 2002, when the overall rate was all the way down at 8.05. Interestingly, that did have a lower overall WHIP, but a higher home-run rate helped lead to an ERA of 4.10.

We’ll see how Corbin finishes the first half. He was distinctly ropey in Los Angeles, not getting through five innings, despite throwing 109 pitches. He scattered seven hits and two walks, but struck out eight in only 4.2 IP, some cause for encouragement. However, overall, it has been a couple of months to forget for Corbin, outside of two quality starts against the woeful Phillies. After finishing April with a 2.29 ERA, we were hoping good Corbin was back. But the 11 starts since have seen a 6.30 ERA for him. We’ll need better than that - and, hopefully, the missing offense from last night - showing up today. I’m hopeful we’ll do so, and go into the break with a series win.