During their most recent road trip, the Arizona Diamondbacks started off well winning five out of their first eight games. They were in a great position to finish the road trip with a winning record, with their last two games being against a bad Giants team. But they failed to capitalize, and they ended up 5-5 on the road trip and while that was probably something we all would have been happy with when the road trip started, it somehow feels like we missed out. But, hopefully after a day off, the team can recharge and come home ready to kick the Dodgers in the face because they are about to have their hands full.
The Dbacks have been playing well enough to have a .568 winning percentage and the fifth best record in baseball, but they are a full 16 games out of first place in the NL West because the Dodgers have been playing out of their minds. With an utterly absurd record of 79-32, they are on pace to challenge the 2001 Seattle Mariners for the most wins by an MLB team in a single season (hopefully their ultimate fates are also correlated). To put this another way, in the Live-Ball Era (since 1920), there have only been eight teams that have finished a season with as good of a record (WP%) as the Diamondbacks AND be at least 16 games out of first place.
- 1927 Philadelphia A's
- 1929 New York Yankees
- 1931 Washington Senators
- 1932 Cleveland Indians
- 1939 Boston Red Sox
- 1944 Cincinnati Reds
- 1954 Chicago White Sox
- 1998 Boston Red Sox
Usually 16 games back of the division lead puts you near .500. But a .568 winning percentage usually puts you somewhere near the division lead. So … do with that what you will. In any case, here is what we can expect from this match up of Goliath vs. Zeus on a heavy dose of steroids and Mountain Dew.
Game 1: Kenta Maeda vs. Zack Godley
Kenta has missed a few starts this year, but he has pitched fairly well when he has been called upon. He is 10-4 with a 3.79 ERA and 90 K’s over 95 innings. So, not quite like an ace, but he has been pitching even better as of late giving up just 3 ER over his last 22 innings. Zack Godley has to be the unsung hero of the Dbacks this year. Without him, we would certainly not be in as good of a playoff position, and we could very well be out of a spot altogether. Godley has been worth 3.1 bWAR this year with a 2.86 ERA over 94.1 innings, 96 K’s, and a 0.996 WHIP. If he continues to pitch this well, then we have to make we start speaking of his breakout year in the same breath as Robbie Ray’s. Advantage here to the Dbacks.
Game 2: Alex Wood vs. Zack Greinke
There are not many matchups were Zack Greinke hasn’t been the best pitcher this year, but this may very well be one of them. Alex Wood has been outstanding for the Dodgers this year going 13-1 with a 2.33 ERA over 104.1 innings. I keep waiting for him to cool off, but that doesn’t look like it is going to happen. So, I guess the Dodger’s just found another Clayton Kershaw? Great. Greinke has been the horse and ace that has kept the Dbacks pitching staff together this year. He will have a tough task ahead of him here with needing to keep the Dodgers in check, but I think that he is up for it with some added motivation of avenging his loss earlier in the year against his former club. Zack has a 13-4 record with a 3.10 ERA and 157 K’s over 142.1 innings in 2017, and he is going to need to keep that level of production going if he hopes to tame the Dodgers. Advantage to the Dodgers here.
Game 3: Yu Darvish vs. TBD
Hmm. This sucks… Yu is the Dodger’s bright and shiny new toy, because well why wouldn’t the rich kid get the nicest toy for Christmas?!? In his lone start for the Dodgers so far, he tossed seven scoreless innings while striking out 10. The addition of Darvish just makes a dangerous pitching staff that much more lethal. For the Dbacks, there are four potential candidates for this spot. The first would be Anthony Banda, who had a great outing against the Giants on Friday, and would be pitching on his 24th birthday. The second option would be a spot start by T.J. McFarland who was been stretched out to more than 50 pitches a few times in the last couple of weeks. The third option would be skipping the fifth starter in the rotation and starting Taijuan Walker on a regular 4 days rest. The last option would be Robbie Ray if he was able come back from the concussion DL (although I think this option unlikely). Advantage Dodgers.
Both of these offenses are above average with outstanding players on both sides, but the Dodgers offense ranks a fair amount better than the Dbacks. The Dodgers are flexing the muscles of their farm system with players like Corey Seager andCody Bellinger playing so well. But they also have players like Justin Turner playing like a possible MVP, and Adrian Gonzalez on his way back from the DL. The Dodger’s offense is stacked, and is averaging more than 5 runs per game.
The Dbacks offense lately can be found on the back of a gentleman and scholar by the name of Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy has done everything he can to carry this team during a relatively dry spell from the offense, and his efforts are increasing his chances at an MVP award every day. Hopefully the offense can start to fire on all cylinders this month because we have one heck of a schedule ahead, and it would be nice to get the full potential production out of guys like Pollock, Peralta, Lamb, and Martinez. Fun little side note: Jeff Mathis has the longest active streak in the NL of reaching base safely in 17 straight games.
This seems like one of those series where we need to see what the Diamondbacks are made of because this could very well be a potential playoff match up down the road. I think that a series win against a team that is on a record tear would be way too much to ask for, but one win out of the three seems feasible and reasonable. Now, that doesn’t mean that our playoff hopes are dashed and the end is near, because remember: It only matters how hot you are playing come October. Just ask the 2001 Seattle Mariners.