|Ketel Marte - CF||Amed Rosario - SS|
|Josh Rojas - LF||Pete Alonso - 1B|
|Eduardo Escobar - 2B||Robinson Cano - 2B|
|Christian Walker - 1B||J.D. Davis - LF|
|Jake Lamb - 3B||Michael Conforto - RF|
|Nick Ahmed - SS||Todd Frazier - 3B|
|Alex Avila - C||Juan Lagares - CF|
|Jarrod Dyson - RF||Tomas Nido - C|
|Alex Young - LHP||Marcus Stroman - RHP|
Baseball is a harsh mistress. On Sunday morning, Diamondbacks fans were on top of the world, surging towards the fading Cubs and anticipating a battle for the wild-card. Four games later... Well, the Cubs are still fading, currently having lost five of their last six games. However, Arizona has gone 0-4, and been outscored by a 19-6 margin. The bandwagon is emptying, fast. Indeed, I haven’t seen so much leaping off since that Disney wildlife “documentary” about lemmings, and everyone seems to be “oH NoEs, wE sUCk aGaiN”. But here’s the reality. It’s not what has happened in the last four games that will decide this season, or even the last 146. It’s what the team does in the remaining sixteen.
The most obvious factor in Arizona’s favor is the schedule. Let’s see how what they have left to play after today, stacks up against the other four teams in the hunt:
- Arizona (12 home, 3 away): SDP x 6, MIA x 3, CIN x 3, STL x 3
- Chicaco (10/6): PIT x 6, STL x 7, CIN x 3
- Milwaukee (7/9): STL x 3, SDP x 4, PIT x 3, CIN x 3, COL x 3
- New York: (10/6): LAD x 3, COL x 3, CIN x 3, MIA x 4, ATL x 3
- Philadelphia (5/11): BOS x 2, ATL x 3, CLE x 3, WSN x 5, MIA x 3
Pause for a moment, and give a thought to the poor Cincinnati Reds, who play all the wild-card contenders bar the Phllies, during their final fifteen games. But otherwise, it looks like the D-backs have the weakest schedule, with only the three against the Cardinals posing much of a threat. And, it’s quite possible, that by the time Game 157 rolls around, St. Louis may well have clinched the division (they’re currently four up on the Cubs and Brewers), so will be more concerned with resting their players for the NLDS. However, the same goes for, say, the Mets: their tough games are against the Dodgers, who have already clinched, and the Braves, 9.5 up on the Nationals. It’s hard to say how any of those games will go.
Certainly, the Diamondbacks need to play better. There’s no argument there: and avoiding the sweep this afternoon in New York would both improve their own chances, and set the Mets back. It’s the team’s last chance to get a victory over any of their current rivals for a wild-card spot. It’s like a stage in the Tour De France: the marathon is over, but the pack are still together as they come into the last town. The final sprint will decide who is the winner.