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Preview #117: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Chicago Cubs

The last time we’ll see the Cubs at Chase Field this year. Probably...

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Jon Jay - CF David Peralta - LF
Tommy La Stella - 2B Chris Iannetta - C
Kris Bryant - 3B Jake Lamb - 3B
Anthony Rizzo - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Victor Caratini - C J.D. Martinez - RF
Kyle Schwarber - LF Daniel Descalso - 2B
Jason Heyward - RF Ketel Marte - SS
Javier Baez - SS Gregor Blanco - CF
Jake Arrieta - RHP Zack Godley - RHP

I say, “probably,” because they now find themselves in a virtual tie for the lead in the NL Central, with the Cardinals - who have won 11 billion* games in a row (* according to Twitter, anyway). Meanwhile, the D-backs find themselves in an actual tie for the wild-card with the Rockies. St. Louis have actually been pretty hot for a while: over both the last 20 and 30 games, only Los Angeles have won more games in the majors. Their run differential of +58 is more than twenty runs better than the Cubs (+37), and if that is any guide to performance going forward, Chicago will be looking at the wild-card as their only hope of post-season play.

Which makes this game particularly important. Win it, and our wild-card margin for error will be 5.5 games; lose and (depending on what the Cardinals do), it could be as low as 3.5 games. I don’t know about you, but the former sounds an awful lot better than the latter - especially considering that we entered what was perceived to be the toughest week of the schedule with a 5-game edge. To have got through the series against the Dodgers and Cubs, while actually having increased that margin would be quite an achievement. I’d take that, and another week’s worth of games crossed off the schedule, in a heartbeat.

Ok, so who had “Zack Godley” as the member of our rotation with the lowest ERA? Anyone? Thought not. But here we are, with Godley sitting at an ERA below three. He doesn’t have enough innings to qualify (he needs 14 more, coming into this afternoon). But if we drop the bar to 100 innings, Zack would be 8th of 95 in the majors by ERA. And it’s not particularly the result of luck or his defense: Godley ranks 13th by FIP and 11 by xFIP. There’s no doubt, he has been the most pleasant surprise of the season so far. In Chicago, he blanked the Cubs for six innings: hopefully, we’ll get the same again here, rather than pulling a reverse Corbin!

Now, Jim: remember to publish this damn preview today. I forgot yesterday, and that’s how the problems started, as I ended up editing this while also doing the quick recap. I ended up with two screens on the ‘publish’ page. Fill in the blanks! I apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.