Friday will mark the first time the Arizona Diamondbacks face their former Face of the Franchise, Paul Goldschmidt. It’s sure to envoke a lot of reminiscing about his time in Arizona, as well as some takes, some good, some scorching hot, about the trade that sent him away from the Valley. So much ink has been spilled about that trade by so many writers, including myself, that I don’t have much to add. In case you haven’t heard, though, he seems to have forgotten to pack his bat when he moved to Missouri, hitting a very pedestrian .254, with an OBP of .343 and a SLG of .426, both well below career norms for him. It all adds up to a perfectly average OPS+ of 103.
Back with those that still wear the red and teal, the team finds itself in a situation that probably doesn’t have a correct answer. On the one hand, they find themselves only two games behind Washington for the first Wild Card spot. On the other, they are only one game above .500 with only three real starting pitchers (at best) and any depth they had at the beginning of the season long since exhausted. Further complicating matters is the fact that going into the break, they swept one of their main rivals for the Wild Card, the Rockies, to jump past even more of the competition.
And it’s hard to see any situation in the coming weeks that makes the situation clear. These same Cardinals are only half a game behind the Diamondbacks in the WC standings, and the only team between them and the Phillies is the Brewers, who they will face after a two game series in Arlington against the Rangers. If they buy, from the outsider vantage point, it looks as though they have too many gaps to fill and not enough pieces to fill them with. However, from that same vantage point, what sort of message does it send to sell when you are so close to the Promised Land. Whether buy or sell, it will be the wrong choice to half of the fan base. Consider yourself lucky that your name isn’t Mike Hazen right now. If that is your name, good luck sir.
Game 1: Robbie Ray (6-6, 3.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP) vs. Adam Wainwright (5-7, 4.31 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Robbie Ray will start off the second half of the season for the Diamondbacks. In six of his last seven starts, Ray has gone at least six innings. Over that same span of time, however, the actual results haven’t been that great, giving up no less than 3 ERs in all but two of those starts. Part of that is the ten home runs given up in those seven games. It’s interesting to me, at least, that during that stretch, his ERA is actually over half a run higher than his total season. Perhaps him going longer in games is a be careful what you wish for situation.
Adam Wainwright will take the mound opposite Ray. He isn’t the pitcher he used to be, but he’s still a solid member of the Cardinals’ rotation. Since start of June specifically, he’s put up a 3.07 ERA with a .245 BA against. He is coming off back-to-back starts with only two runs given up, but I still feel good about the Diamondbacks’ chances.
Game 2: Merrill Kelly (7-8, 4.03 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) vs. Dakota Hudson (7-4, 3.51 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)
Merrill Kelly has been really good recently. Since June, he’s only really had one bad start, which was a five ER outing against the Rockies. Other than that, everything has been three runs or less. Look for Hazen’s diamond in the rough to put up another solid outing.
This is Dakota Hudson’s first year in a Big League rotation, and so far he is making the most of it. He’s been pretty consistent with 6-7 inning starts with two or three runs given up. There have been a couple bad starts mixed in, which is to be expected of any pitcher, but especially a young pitcher just joining the rotation for the first time.
Game 3: Zack Greinke (10-3, 2.72 ERA, 0.98WHIP) vs. Miles Mikolas (5-9, 4.53 ERA, 1.26 WHIP)
Greinke will be going on long rest for this start. His last game was on July 5th, and he hasn’t pitched since, due to taking the All Star Game off for personal reasons. It will be interesting to see how this effects the Arizona ace. Will he come back extra sharp thanks to the rest, or will he have a bit of rust that he needs to knock off first?
By just about every metric, Mikolas has been pretty average this season. 4.5 ERA and a 93 ERA+ are hardly awe inspiring for anyone. He’s coming off a bit of a rough start, but had a string of three pretty good ones before that, where he gave up three runs or less in all three games.
I think the Diamondbacks will strengthen the case to buy with this series. Two out of three is likely, and a sweep is doable, depending on how Greinke looks on the extra rest. Dbacks take the series and inch closer to the second Wild Card spot.