|SAN DIEGO PADRES||ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS|
|Manuel Margot - CF||David Peralta - LF|
|Carlos Asuaje - 2B||Chris Iannetta - C|
|Jose Pirela - LF||Jake Lamb - 3B|
|Yangervis Solarte - SS||Paul Goldschmidt - 1B|
|Wil Myers - 1B||J.D. Martinez - RF|
|Cory Spangenberg - 3B||A.J. Pollock - CF|
|Jabari Blash - RF||Daniel Descalso - 2B|
|Austin Hedges - C||Ketel Marte - SS|
|Jhoulys Chacin - RHP||Zack Godley - RHP|
Diamondbacks post-season magic number: 13
Diamondbacks home-field magic number: 16
Diamondbacks division anti-magic number: 12
After a week without Paul Goldschmidt, he is finally back in the Diamondbacks line-up. Cue a massive sigh of relief from fans, who were growing increasingly concerned by the absence of their star position player. Not that it particularly appears to have hurt the team, in terms of results while he was out. But with all due respect to those who stood-in for him, Adam Rosales, Kris Negron and even Daniel Descalso are not Paul Goldschmidt. May this be the last time we see him having any health-enforced time on the bench. Also today, with the Aces season now over, the team added LHP Anthony Banda, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker and INF Ildemaro Vargas to the roster, so that’s some more bench depth, with 34 players now crammed into the dugout.
We’ve always presumed that, if the D-backs win the wild-card game, they will be facing the Dodgers in the Division Series. But as Los Angeles continues to lose, there is now a credible chance that might not be the case. For their lead as the team with the best record in the National League has been evaporating almost as fast as their division lead. On August 25, they were 91-36, 141⁄2 games ahead of the Washington Nationals, and set to clinch home-field advantage all the way through the World Series. That gap is down to just five games coming into play today - and after the Dodgers finish this series against the Rockies, they hit the airport for a ten-game road-trip which will include three games in Washington.
This matters, because the wild-card winner will play the division champion with the best regular-season record. So if the Nationals manage to catch the Dodgers, they will be that champion. Would we want to face them or Los Angeles? Certainly, based on the way we’ve played this year, Arizona would have a harder time against Washington. We only went 2-4 versus them, compared to 11-8 facing Los Angeles, though were not outscored by much (20-24). If you want to take the pessimistic approach, losing to the Nationals would likely be psychologically less annoying. There’s also the point, as noted previously, that the underdog has a better chance over the five-game Division Series than the seven-game Championship Series.
I can’t say I’m too bothered either way. Everything after Game 162 is going to be a pure bonus, regardless of the opponent or the location. Nationals, Dodgers, Rockies or Brewers [hell, possibly the Cubs, who are about to see their division lead cut to three games, since they’re currently 14-0 down!], it doesn’t matter much. Given it will be six years since any post-season action at all for the Diamondbacks, and I certainly didn’t expect any this year, I’ll be delighted, simply to be there. But it’s something worth keeping an eye on, if the Dodgers continue to tank.