|Jarrod Dyson - LF||Mike Yastrzemski - RF|
|Ketel Marte - CF||Brandon Belt - 1B|
|Eduardo Escobar - 2B||Evan Longoria - 3B|
|Christian Walker - 1B||Alex Dickerson - LF|
|Jake Lamb - 3B||Stephen Vogt - C|
|Adam Jones - RF||Kevin Pillar - CF|
|Nick Ahmed - SS||Brandon Crawford - SS|
|Alex Avila - C||Donovan Solano - 2B|
|Mike Leake - RHP||Jeff Samardzija - RHP|
The D-backs come into this evening’s contest 19.5 games back of the Dodgers. A win tonight would push the team back over .500 - yes, again! But if my math is correct, it would also ensure there’s no mathematical way the Dodgers can clinch the NL West during the upcoming series at Chase Field. Even if they take the remaining two games against the Padres, then sweep the D-backs, they’d be on 92 wins. A win tonight, but none against LA, would give Arizona 67 - putting them 25 back with 25 to play at the end of the series. Not quite far enough back. A minor victory, sure: but even though the Dodgers are now Puig-less, I’ll take denying them any chance to celebrate on our turf.
Of course, to do that, we’ll have to win a Mike Leake start, and... that hasn’t gone too well of late. Over his last three outings, the Diamondbacks have conceded a total of 26 runs, 17 of them during Leake’s 16 innings of work. I suppose he is living up to his reputation as an “innings eater”: all but one of his starts this year have seen Leake qualify for a decision. Indeed, since the start of 2012, he’s tied for 8th in the number of 5+ inning starts, with 214 - the exact same number as Clayton Kershaw, who has two Cy Youngs and three runners-up spots over that time. But so far for Arizona, Leake appears to be the pitching equivalent of one of those all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets, with volume far surpassing quality.
Four starts in, Leake has allowed 37 hits in only 21.1 innings of work, opposing batters hitting him at a .394 average. Part of that may be bad luck, with a BABIP of .367. But even dropping both of those figures by 70 points doesn’t make for a great improvement. It doesn’t help that Leake has allowed eight home-runs over that time, though at least he did keep the ball in the park last time out, at Chase Field against the Rockies. But he also has just nine strikeouts as a D-back, with three or fewer K’s each of his first four outings. If he does that again tonight, you’ll have to go back to early 2014, when Bronson Arroyo and Randall Delgado were in the rotation, to find a comparable streak of 3 or fewer strikeout starts.