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Series Preview # 34: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Chicago Cubs

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A daunting month of August begins with a tough series against the defending World Series Champions.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

August is here, and now is the time to see what kind of intestinal fortitude the Arizona Diamondbacks have in the tank. Their two starting shortstops at the beginning of the year are both out for an extended period of time due to a fractured hand and a fractured finger. We also have Robbie Ray on the concussion DL after a scary incident that was all too reminiscent of Archie Bradley’s run in with a fastball off the bat of Carlos Gonzalez more than two years ago. Fortunately, like Bradley, it looks like Ray will make a full recovery and not miss too much time. The Dbacks will play 29 games in 31 days this month, with 16 of them coming against first place teams (6 against the Cubs, 6 against the Dodgers, and 4 against the Astros). Although the Dbacks still have the fourth best record in all of baseball, they will have a true test this month. Let’s see what we can expect from the first series of the month.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Patrick Corbin vs. Jon Lester

Patrick Corbin has been on a hot streak the last month or two, pitching to a 2.83 ERA over his last 8 starts (6 Quality Starts). During that time frame, he has a 50:13 K:BB ratio and has averaged 6 IP per start. He will be going up against another lefty in Jon Lester, who is having a decent year himself. Lester is 8-6 with a 3.88 ERA across 130 innings with 130 strikeouts. He has had some really impressive seasons over the last five years or so, but this year he has looked a little more human so far. Lester’s throwing problems with runners on base have been well documented, so look for the Dbacks to perhaps jump start a run game that has largely been dormant the last few months. With the way Corbin has been pitching, I say this matchup is a push right now.

Game 2: Zack Godley vs. Jake Arrieta

Alongside a breakout season from Robbie Ray, Zack Godley has been blossoming into a fixture in the rotation this season. He has a 3.06 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP over his 88.1 innings with 91 strikeouts, and has really turned a corner in his development. He has been worth an impressive 2.7 bWAR in just 14 big league starts which is good enough for fourth best on the team behind, Ray, Zack Greinke, and Paul Goldschmidt. Two years removed from one of the more impressive pitching seasons in the last 20 years, Jake Arrieta has been off and on in 2017. He has a 4.03 ERA in his 120.2 innings, and his 4.23 FIP suggests that isn’t much of a fluke. Hopefully he struggles for just a little bit longer. Advantage Dbacks here.

Game 3: Zack Greinke vs. Jose Quintana

Zack Greinke is having a great season for the Dbacks, and is one of the many reasons why the team is having so much success this year. In 136.1 innings, Greinke is 13-4 with a 2.84 ERA, 149 strikeouts, and a 1.005 WHIP. He has been worth 4.5 bWAR and is the ace that Arizona will need if they hope to compete for a playoff spot, especially since it will likely involve the 1-game wild card. Jose Quintana is the Chicago Cubs new shiny toy, fresh in from the south side. He has been very impressive in his 3 starts since joining the Cubs, pitching 19 innings with a 2.37 ERA and 25 strikeouts. Similar to the Dodgers acquiring Yu Darvish at the deadline yesterday, this is a classic case of the rich getting richer. Fortunately for the Dbacks, it looks like it is not quite rich enough for this matchup. Advantage Dbacks.

Offense

In 16 games since the All-Star break, Arizona has averaged 5.125 runs per game, but that has been buoyed by four double-digit run performances. In those four games, they are unsurprisingly 4-0 and outscoring the opponents by a margin of 43-9. This means that in the other 12 games they have been outscored 39-51, and have consequently gone 3-9. So it seems as if they have been feast or famine lately, and this will likely be exacerbated by missing Owings and Marte alongside facing some better pitching this month.

Arizona currently leads the National League in both doubles and triples, but they continue to slip in the OPS+ rankings and they are now below average there with a 93. So while they are still managing to score more than 5 runs a game, there have been a few holes that they need to work on. Chicago has pretty much been a league average offense this year, and that doesn’t look like it will be changing soon. There are plenty of great players on the roster, but things just haven’t quite clicked *(until recently) and there aren’t any players that are quite standing out in the same way they did last year. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, it appears that the Cubs are turning it on at the right time and they are 13-3 since the All-Star break. During that hot streak the Cubs have a slightly better run differential than the Dbacks (CHC: 85-49, AZ: 82-60). So hopefully the wins start piling up for Arizona the way that they are for the Cubs.

Conclusion

We are catching the Cubs at a really tough time. It would have been nice to see them earlier in the year when they were struggling, but that’s not the case. Chicago is playing good baseball right now, and Arizona is a little off and on. Since the games are in Chicago, I think that we also have to give the advantage to the Cubs but I have a good feeling about the pitchers we have going right now. I’m going to say two out of three for the Dbacks.

Poll

How Many Wins for Arizona in Chicago?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    0
    (50 votes)
  • 36%
    1
    (68 votes)
  • 29%
    2
    (54 votes)
  • 7%
    3
    (14 votes)
186 votes total Vote Now