After a 13-game winning streak, the Diamondbacks fell back down to earth a little with a series loss to the Padres (2-1). Although they only managed to win one game from the Padres, they still gained a game and a half on the Dodgers in the NL West standings. That lead is now down to 9 games after having been at 21 merely a few weeks ago. There is still a long ways to go before we start taking the division talks a little more seriously, but the Dodgers are an unmitigated disaster right now, and I would love nothing more than to see their losing streak continue this week. But the wild card is the race we should be looking at a little more closely, as the Rockies are now just 5 games back from the first wild card, and they come to Arizona to play a four game series starting today. This will be a big series for both teams, so let’s see what we can expect. But first, a wild card update!
Wild Card Update
After the Rockies managed to sweep the Dodgers in four games in Los Angeles, they have maintained their grasp on the Wild Card’s second slot. However, strong weeks from both the Brewers and the Cardinals, not only see them in the hunt for the division title, but also a wild card slot. Here is where they all stand as of today:
- Arizona Diamondbacks: +5.0 games
- Colorado Rockies: ---
- Milwaukee Brewers: -3.0 games
- St. Louis Cardinals: -3.0 games
Since this update last week, we see our lead over the Rockies shrink by a game and a half, but our lead over the third place team actually increased by a game. With only 19 games to go, and an 8 game lead over the third place team(s) in the wild card hunt, we are in a great position for some playoff baseball (especially since the Brewers and Cardinals still play against each other). But this coming series will have a major impact on Arizona’s chances of hosting the wild card game.
Also of interest, here are the upcoming series for each of those teams and the records of the teams involved.
- Colorado Rockies (78-65) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (83-60)
- Pittsburgh Pirates (67-77) @ Milwaukee Brewers (75-68)
- Cincinnati Reds (62-82) @ St Louis Cardinals (75-68)
Game 1: Kyle Freeland vs. Zack Greinke
You’ll want to watch this one. This could very well be the wild card game matchup that we see in three weeks, with Greinke being the ace of Arizona’s staff, and Freeland being one of the top pitchers for Colorado. Freeland is having a pretty good year for Colorado, having an 11-10 record with a 3.99 ERA over 146.2 innings which is good enough for a 3.5 bWAR. He is just 24 years old, but is showing a lot of promise as a rookie. Greinke is having a great year for the Diamondbacks and if it weren’t for Kershaw and Scherzer, he could very well be in the running for another Cy Young award. He has a 16-6 record with a 3.01 ERA and 194 strikeouts over 179.1 innings. He has been worth 5.8 bWAR so far, and has an outside shot at winning 20 games for the Dbacks.
Game 2: Jon Gray vs. Taijuan Walker
Jon Gray is another young hurler for the Rockies, and he is just 25 years old, but is already playing in his third major league season. He has a 4.07 ERA on the year, and strikes out almost a batter per inning, but he has been injured for a good chunk of time. Taijuan Walker is something of an enigma to me, because he has been good enough to put up a 142 ERA+ in 24 starts, but he usually can only go five or six innings. His K/9 is good at 8.1, but his BB/9 is a little high, sitting at 3.2. He puts enough runners on base, and throws enough pitches that he can’t typically get through the seventh inning. Not that this is a bad thing, but just something that he hasn’t yet learned how to do consistently.
Game 3: German Marquez vs. Patrick Corbin
Marquez only lasted four innings in his last start against the Dodgers, and allowed four runs while walking four. He has been fairly steady for the Rockies all year though, with a 4.27 ERA across 25 starts and 136 strikeouts in 141.1 innings. Patrick Corbin’s Dr. Jekyll and Hyde impersonation continued in his last start. He had an amazing five game stretch where he was nearly unhittable, but then he had one heck of a clunker against the Padres. He gave up eight runs and 11 hits in just 4.1 innings on Friday, and halted the Dbacks win streak at 13. Although, I suppose I can’t complain too much, because it is nice to have a fifth starter that is on pace for 180+ innings, 180+ K’s, and an ERA near 4.00. Hopefully Mr. Hyde comes out to play on Wednesday.
Game 4: Chad Bettis vs. Zack Godley
Chad Bettis is a great story, as he has returned back to big league baseball recently after fighting testicular cancer. In his last start, he went five innings and picked up the win against the Dodgers. Zack Godley has been one of the big surprises of 2017, and just continues to pitch well deep into the season. His curveball is one of the best in the game, and he has taken a monumental step forward in his development this year. Despite a 7-7 record, he has been worth 4.1 bWAR with a 3.18 ERA and 145 strikeouts over 136 innings this year. Yet another example of why records for pitchers aren’t always a telling statistic. Hopefully Godley can continue to roll on Thursday.
In terms of runs per game, the Rockies and the Diamondbacks are second and third in the National League, respectively. However, when you rank them by OPS+ they are ranked 10th and 12th, respectively. So do with that what you will. Despite some discrepancies in the metrics, these both are offenses that can explode at any given time, but they are also offenses that can go through some dry spells. The Diamondbacks are on pace to hit the most home runs in their franchise’s history, and both team have legitimate MVP candidates. Paul Goldschmidt for the Dbacks is the likely front runner in the league right now, but both Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado for the Rockies should get some serious consideration too. Overall, I would say that these two offenses are about equal, even if they have strengths in different areas.
I think that both teams have a lot to play for, and because of this they will both be fighting very hard this series. As such, I think that we will see a series split here, at two games apiece. I would love to see a Dbacks sweep and for the Dodger’s losing streak to continue, however. I would love to write the series preview next week with an NL West update instead of a Wild Card Update. Hey, we can keep dreaming until the Dodgers win right?