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Series Preview #47: DBacks @ Rockies

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The time is now

Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images

So, things could be worse. The D-Backs could be the San Diego Padres and just playing for pride. But instead they’re playing the division leading Rockies for what could possibly be the determining series in whether each team goes into the playoffs. There is one more series between the Rockies and Diamondbacks after this one, but I there’s a genuine chance it could all be decided by then.

Since both the D-Back and the Rockies lost on Sunday night, the D-Backs trail the Rockies by 2.5 games going into the series. The D-Backs need nothing less than a sweep and for the Dodgers to loose at least one game in their series against the Reds to take the division lead back. To do it, they’ll have a pretty big uphill battle.

Currently all three teams, Rockies, Dodgers, and Diamondbacks do not have enough wins for the Wild-Card game. The Rockies are .5 games back of the Cardinals, Dodgers are 1.0 games back, and the D-Backs are at 3.0 games back. It’s still a very tight race between the top 5 teams aiming for the wild card. The Philies are only 4.5 games back themselves which is far from insurmountable.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Zack Godley (RHP) [14-8, 4.31 ERA] vs German Marquez (RHP) [11-9, 4.05 ERA]

Godley has the better record despite the worse numbers. Marquez’s 4.4 WAR beats Godley’s -.6 on the year. Marquez has a better WHIP of 1.241, to Godley’s 1.378, and an ERA+ of 115 to 97. But playoff baseball is all about trends. To get to the playoffs, you usually need good trends. Unfortunately it looks like there’s even less good news for Godley. Over the last 3 games Godley has a 5.09 ERA and only went 17.2 innings, while German has a 1.66 ERA over 21.2 innings. Uphill indeed.

Game 2: Zack Greinke (RHP) [13-9, 3.08 ERA] vs Antonio Senzatela (RHP) [4-5, 4.92 ERA]

So it’s entirely possible we could see the ‘B’ lineup from the Rockies in this one. Give the studs a break and let some call ups take their hacks at Greinke. Extra days off during the month of September are often a premium for teams battling to make the playoffs. On the other hand, every game is monumentally important when there’s only 2.5 games between 1st and 3rd in the division.

Greinke was a bit out of sorts in his last outing against the Braves going only 5.1 innings and giving up 5 runs on 6 hits. The month of August was a mixed bag for Greinke since despite having only a 2.97 ERA, his team lost 4 of his 6 starts going only 1-4. It wasn’t a terrible month, but it was certainly no July for him.

Senzatela started as a bullpen arm but was tapped to be an occasional starter in July. He didn’t fare much better than Greinke in August winning 0 games out of the 4 he started. His ERA of 4.92, ERA+ of 95, and 4.12 FIP doesn’t exactly strike fear in the hearts of batters so hopefully we could see a bit of an offensive awakening in this one especially at Coors field.

Game 3: Patrick Corbin (LHP) [11-5, 3.01 ERA] vs Jon Gray (RHP) [11-7, 4.69 ERA]

Patrick is pitching like he’s a free agent at the end of the year or something. He’s striking out 11.2 batters per 9 innings, his WHIP is 1.007, his ERA+ is 145, and his FIP is 2.38. To put that into perspective, in his first All-Star year of 2013, his FIP was a full 1.05 points higher! Thanks humidor!

So how many times do you think the Diamondbacks have faced the Rockies ace this year? 3, maybe 4 times? Nope. Only once, and that was opening day. The result of that game was a 2-8 loss for the Rockies. Let’s hope that outcome can be repeated 5 months later.

Jon’s ERA+ is 99 while his FIP is 3.71. That puts his ERA+ about average while his FIP is lower than league average. Speaking of Jon Gray and facing the Diamondbacks, he’s the guy that started the Wild Card game. You know, the guy that gave up 4 runs on 7 hits in the first 1.1 innings?

Other Things

So if I asked you which team has the better bullpen, I’m willing to stake the $.16 cents I have in my pocket you would have said the Rockies. But you’d be wrong, and not by a little bit either. Despite all of the recent bullpen meltdowns, the D-Backs bullpen ERA is 4th overall. Yes, 4th. The D-Backs bullpen ERA is 3.31 while the Rockies are 26th at 4.88.

But here’s where things get crazy.

The D-Backs bullpen W-L is 21-31! That’s right, they’ve lost 10 more games than they’ve won. If we sorted teams according to bullpen wins, the D-Backs are 24th while the Rockies would be 12th. So, maybe you can have my 3 coins. Or not....

The D-Backs bullpen has blown a total of 20 games. Where as the Rockies bullpen has blown 27. Percentage wise, they both come out about dead even where the DBacks have held 64% of their leads while the Rockies have held 63%. Yes, there have been some real stinkers (including Sunday nights meltdown), but in the battle of the bullpens it’s pretty much a dead heat.

Offensively the DBacks team WAR is 13.6 while the Rockies don’t fare any better at 10.5. Team slash for the Rockies is .254/.319/.430 while the DBacks are marginally worse at .238/.315/.399. It’s perhaps the slugging differential of only .031 points that really jumps out at me. This is the team that plays at Coors field we’re talking about. As poorly as we typically think the DBacks have performed offensively, the Rockies haven’t been faring much better even with that home park advantage. Both teams have been winning this year mostly on the backs of their pitchers. It will be interesting to see if either team can awaken their bats in the final stretch.

Prediction

I think the DBacks take 2 out of the 3 and will end up a half game behind both the Dodgers and Rockies at the end of the series.

Fangraphs Playoff Odds

Rockies: 49%

Dodgers: 83%

D-Backs: 12.9%