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A road-map to the post-season for the Arizona Diamondbacks

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34 games left to play. Here’s how we could reach the wild-card.

Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Mets Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Going into this weekend’s series against the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks occupy the first wild-card spot. They sit one-half game up on the Colorado Rockies, and four games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers. What this means, is that if the Diamondbacks play just .500 ball over the remaining 34 games, ending at 87 wins, the Brewers would need to go 21-13 to match the D-backs’ total. That is a stretch: it’s the equivalent of a 100-win pace over a full season, and would also match the BEST record Milwaukee has posted over any 34 game period this season.

But let’s break down the remaining schedule for both sides. The chart below shows the games the two teams have remaining. I’ve color-coded each series based on the current record of the opposition: challenging series against playoff-spot teams are in red, those around .500 are in yellow, and what should be easy series against those playing out the season for “contractual obligation” reasons are in green.

The D-backs’ stretch run breaks down as 13 red, 6 yellow and 15 green. The Brewers are looking at 14 red, 8 yellow and 12 green, slightly tougher. On the other hand, Milwaukee does have an advantage, playing 18 of their games at home, compared to Arizona’s 15. Overall, they look similar, and that favors the Diamondbacks, because we’re the ones currently ahead. We can get to that .500 mark by going just 4-9 over the red games, 3-3 in the yellow ones and 10-5 for the green ones. Clearly, Arizona would want to do better: seven of those red games are against the Rockies, and will likely determine home-field wild-card advantage. But 17-17 should be good enough.

That means taking just one game in each of the red series, splitting the yellow ones, and winning each green series. Specifically, here’s one possible scenario of how things could go for the Diamondbacks and get them to the 87-win mark.

  • Aug 25-27 vs. SFG: 2-1
  • Aug 29-31 vs. LAD: 1-2
  • Sep 1-3 @ COL: 1-2
  • Sep 4-6 @ LAD: 1-2
  • Sep 8-10 vs. SDP: 2-1
  • Sep 11-14 vs. COL: 1-3
  • Sep 15-17 @ SFG: 2-1
  • Sep 18-20 @ SDP: 2-1
  • Sep 22-24 vs. MIA: 2-1
  • Sep 25-27 vs. SFG: 2-1
  • Sep 29-Oct 1 @ KCR: 1-2

Again, this is a low-water mark. I’d certainly like to think we’ll do better than taking one out of four games at Chase Field against the Rockies. But even given how we have fallen back from our great first three months, the above seems eminently plausible. Broken down like this, the Fangraphs odds - currently sitting at 86.2% - feels about right. We just have to avoid the sweeps, and we should be fine.