Arizona Diamondbacks (88-65) vs Miami Marlins (72-80)
As I write this, the Rockies trail the Padres 3-0 in the eighth, and the Cubs have defeated the Brewers. The magic number is now down to three, and I believe that the magic number for home field in the wild card will be either three or four. The D-Backs can clinch both this series against Miami. How wonderful would it be for them to do it at home on Sunday?
The Marlins have a sneaky-good offense, especially when you take into account park factors. Seven of their eight hitters have an OPS+ of 94 above, and three batters are above 140. Two of these batters, Marcell Ozuna and Justin Bour, are in the midst of career years. Bour and Ozuna have combined for an impressive 57 homers this season. The third guy with an OPS+ above 140 is a certain Giancarlo Stanton, who has 56 homers on his own. While I obviously want the Diamondbacks to win above all else... I wouldn’t be opposed to Stanton hitting a couple homers in the series. I would love to see him get past 60 on the season. If the Marlins can get some starting pitching this off-season, they could be the Arizona Diamondbacks of 2018.
With the exception of Chris Owings, none of the injured players for Arizona are expected to return during the regular season. Owings may play a couple regular season games before the postseason begins.
Utility infielder Miguel Rojas’s status is currently up in the air for the D-Backs series. Other than him, the Marlins have no new injuries to speak of.
Game 1: Zack Greinke RHP (17-6, 2.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) vs Adam Conley LHP (7-7, 5.20 ERA, 1.45 WHIP)
It is funny to think that during Spring Training, people (including me) were worried about the drop in Greinke’s velocity. 200 million dollars down the drain! Since the season has begun, I have not heard that narrative brought up at all. Zack is in the midst of the fifth sub-3 ERA season of his career, and is on track to strike out about the same amount of batters as he did during his 2009 Cy Young campaign with the Royals. He is unquestionably the ace of the staff.
After posting an ERA in the high-3’s during his first two big league seasons, Adam Conley has been terrible this season. After a less than stellar start to the year he was demoted to Triple-A, where he put up a 5.49 ERA in 12 starts. Then, in early July, Edison Volquez went down with a knee injury and the Marlins said well, I guess we can call up the guy who has had success before. He has been better in his second stint with the major league team, with a 4.24 ERA in 11 starts. Huge advantage to the D-Backs.
Game 2: Taijuan Walker RHP (9-8, 3.45 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) vs Dillon Peters LHP (0-2, 5.40 ERA, 1.66 WHIP)
Did you know that Taijuan Walker has a 2.14 ERA in his last 6 games? I sure didn’t. The Diamondbacks are going to have a wonderful problem with deciding on their fourth starter in the postseason rotation. There is no bad choice!
Dillon Peters, a 10th round pick in the 2014 draft, will be making the fifth start of his major league career on Saturday. He made his debut on the first of September, and gave up only 3 hits in 7 runs of scoreless ball. The lefty seems to be in love with his curveball, throwing the pitch 38% of the time. Advantage D-Backs.
Game 3: Patrick Corbin LHP (14-13, 4.14 ERA, 1.42 WHIP) vs Dan Straily RHP (10-9, 4.17 ERA, 1.27 WHIP
Continuing the above discussion on the postseason rotation, I see either Corbin or Godley being the guy sent to the bullpen. Corbin has been the hot hand in the rotation as of late, but he was also very successful coming out of the bullpen last season. He should perform very well in either role.
It’s hard to call someone a journeyman when he’s only pitched five and a half seasons, but Straily already fits the part. Miami is the fifth stop of Straily’s career, and the year has gone fairly well. He has been the second-best pitcher on the staff this year, although that’s not saying much on a staff where 2 guys with ERA’s above seven have started 24 games. The meh journeyman seems like just the kind of guy to befuddle Diamondbacks hitters, however. Slight advantage D-Backs.
D-Backs win 2 of 3, and clinch a wild card berth Sunday afternoon.