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Preview, #136: 8/31 vs. Dodgers

August has gone better than most people would have expected for the Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

A.J. Pollock - CF Tim Locastro - CF
Justin Turner - 3B Nick Ahmed - SS
Enrique Hernandez - 2B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Will Smith - C Christian Walker - 1B
Corey Seager - SS Wilmer Flores - 2B
Chris Taylor - LF Adam Jones - RF
Jedd Gyorko - 1B Josh Rojas - LF
Kris Negron - RF Carson Kelly - C
Clayton Kershaw - LHP Robbie Ray - LHP

Arizona enters the final game of August with a record for the month of 15-11. Win or lose, that’s the second-best month they’ve had this season, and victory today would tie April for most victories in a 2019 calendar month [though the W% was better in April, at 16-10]. Considering it’s a month which started off with the team trading the best starting pitcher for future considerations, this has to come as a bit of a surprise. It’s not like the team has been blowing past the opposition. In terms of run differential for August, the D-backs are only at +7. Discounting March’s four games, that’s their second-worst performance, ahead only of June’s +2.

But the team’s performance in August has largely been the reverse of what it had been up until the trade deadline. Rather than winning the blowouts and losing the close games, they’ve been losing the big margin contests and winning the squeakers.
Blowouts - through July 31, 25-12; in August, 5-5
One-run - through July 3, 13-20; in August, 4-2
The offense has been key: their OPS has been .780, trailing just Mar/Apr, despite a season-low BABIP of .280. They’ve hit 44 home-runs in August, the most for any month, and if they can draw three walks today, they’ll have the most walks too.

The bullpen is also enjoying its best month of the year, collectively going 7-2 with a 3.83 ERA. Kevin Ginkel, Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley and - I can’t believe I’m writing this - Matt Andriese have all thrown at least ten innings with a sub-three ERA in August. Together, it’s 49.1 innings of 2.37 ERA ball. That has helped counter an ugly month for the starting pitching, which is certainly missing Zack Greinke. The rotation has posted a 5.28 ERA, with Mike Leake and Merrill Kelly both nearer seven than six. But the bullpen has been taxed, averaging close to four innings a game (103.1 IP in 26), a figure not surpassed since the end of the 2016 season. Fortunately, help should arrive when rosters expand tomorrow.