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Series Preview #31: D-backs @ Braves

Following a humbling series loss in Denver, the Diamondbacks travel to ever-muggy Atlanta looking to create some sort of momentum going into the All-Star break.

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Atlanta Braves Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

There’s something poetic about the timing of this series. Just two days ago the Diamondbacks were embarrassed 19-2 in front of a crowd of 33,919, setting a record for futility along the way (believe it or not, position players don’t usually find themselves pitching in the 4th inning!). That game’s starter was, perhaps unsurprisingly, a certain Shelby Miller. Now, two days later, the Snakes look to face Miller’s old team, a team which thoroughly fleeced former D-backs GM Dave Stewart out of 1st-overall pick Dansby Swanson, former 1st-round pick Aaron Blair, and All-Star center fielder Ender Inciarte. Swanson and Inciarte have a combined 3.3 WAR for the Braves this season, and while Inciarte is having a down year at the plate, Swanson finally seems to be coming into his own on both offense and defense. Shelby Miller has been considerably worse: in 15 innings pitched over 4 appearances, Miller has gone 0-4 with an 11.40 ERA and a WHIP over 2, good for exactly -1.0 WAR. It looks like the baseball gods reaaaaally want to rub it in. We get it, guys. Just leave us alone.

Obligatory reminder of one of the worst trade in Diamondbacks history aside, Inciarte and Swanson have been key contributors to a Braves team fighting for first place in a tight NL East. Atlanta’s offense is one of the best in baseball, ranking 4th in hits, batting average, and OPS. Their pitching staff has been serviceable too, if not outstanding. The staff’s biggest issue is an abundance of free passes, ranking second-to-last in the National League in number of walks allowed.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Game 1: RHP Zack Godley (10-6, 4.80 ERA) vs. Aníbal Sánchez (4-2, 2.72 ERA)

Advantage: Braves

Game 2: RHP Zack Greinke (9-5, 3.39 ERA) vs. Sean Newcomb (8-4, 3.44 ERA)

Advantage: Even, leaning Braves

Game 3: LHP Patrick Corbin (6-3, 3.09 ERA) vs. Julio Teheran (6-6, 4.26 ERA)

Advantage: D-backs

Players of Note

1B Freddie Freeman - Widely considered to be one of the best first basemen in all of baseball, Freeman has been the workhorse on a potent Braves offense. The hard-hitting lefty has averaged .313 in 351 AB’s, belting 16 homers and 60 RBI along the way. His .940 OPS is one of the highest among qualifying NL first basemen, narrowly beating out Paul Goldschmidt by .005 points.

RHP Arodys Vizcaíno - While ace Mike Foltynewicz has highlighted the Brave’s starting rotation this season, closer Arodys Vizcaíno has quietly been one of the best relievers in baseball. The 27 year old Dominican averages 97.2 MPH on his go-to two-seam fastball with an ERA 1.65 and a K/9 of 9.37.

Prediction

For the sake of team morale, the Diamondbacks desperately need a series win in Atlanta. For this to happen, the offense has to drive home runners in scoring position. In yesterday’s 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies, D-backs hitters went just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, a metric which can’t be repeated. The starting pitching must also be locked in. The Snake bullpen is simply too tired for another 4 inning relief outing. If both of these scenarios come to fruition, 2 out of 3 and a series win are all but guaranteed.

Poll

How do you think the D-backs will fare against the Braves?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    0 wins (Swept...)
    (10 votes)
  • 39%
    1 win
    (21 votes)
  • 28%
    2 wins
    (15 votes)
  • 13%
    3 wins (Sweep!)
    (7 votes)
53 votes total Vote Now