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Preview #92: 7/10 vs. Rockies

The NL West continues to be the tightest race in baseball

MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

David Peralta - LF DJ LeMahieu - 2B
Nick Ahmed - SS Charlie Blackmon - CF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Nolan Arenado - 3B
A.J. Pollock - CF Trevor Story - SS
Steven Souza - RF Ian Desmond - 1B
Ketel Marte - 2B Chris Iannetta - C
Jake Lamb - 3B Gerardo Parra - LF
Jeff Mathis - C Noel Cuevas - RF
Patrick Corbin - LHP Tyler Anderson - LHP

Going into play today, only 312 games separate first and fourth in the NL West. The next closest division over that range is the NL Central, and you currently would need 1112 games to cover the same top four teams there. The last time any division in baseball was tighter on this date was back in 2011, when three games covered first to fourth in the NL Central - and in those days, there were six teams in it. For a smaller division, you need to go back to July 10, 2006 when the entire (four-team) AL West was covered by 212 games. And, on the same date, first through fourth in the NL West had a 312 game span, matching the current one. [The D-backs were last, a further one and a half back]

The importance of this series therefore does not need to be over-stated. While the D-backs can’t drop behind the Rockies, with that 312 game edge, they could certainly lose first place, with the Dodgers breathing down their necks. Los Angeles are now only one-half game back, having easily beaten the Padres in San Diego last night. It wouldn’t necessarily be the end of the world: the D-backs lost first place from May 21-June 1, and were able to regain it. But it’s certainly easier to be on top of the mountain, especially such a competitive hillock as we have here, than be one of those proverbial lobsters in the bucket. I may have mixed up my metaphors in the middle of that sentence, something terrible...

Tonight it’s Corbin, who is probably the most consistent and reliable of our pitchers this year. This is apparent not just in his 3.05 ERA, so much as his ability to avoid bad outings. He has only three starts (out of 18) with a Game Score of 50 or lower. For comparison, Zack Godley is 8/18; Zack Greinke 6/19 and Matt Koch 5/12, among those with 10+ starts for us this year. If we drop the threshold for Game Score to 40, Corbin has had just one such outing: Greinke has two, Koch four and Godley five. With Shelby Miller - still looking for his first Game Score of 50! - and Godley going tomorrow and Thursday, this feels like a game the D-backs must win, to have a hope of taking the series.