The wild card race is crowded.
- Cubs: They fell into a tie with the Brewers for the second wild card. In the latest round-table, I predicted 87 wins would be the bar to reach the second wild-card. That still looks right.
- Brewers: In the last 10 games, their record of 8-2 pulled them even with the Cubs. They are very real contenders.
- Mets: They played extremely well against the D-backs while sweeping a 4 game series. With that high level of performance against a contending team, they might pass the Cubs and the Brewers despite being 2 games behind them.
- Phillies: Although they are in the race, they will likely sink before the end of the season.
- D-backs: After losing 5 games in a row, they need a long winning streak. A 9-game winning streak against the Reds, Marlins, and Padres would not be too-surprising. The D-backs remain contenders motivated by the fat lady standing just outside the spotlight.
The series against the Reds could make a difference.
For many reasons, the D-backs could sweep this series:
- Focus: “Naahh. Na! There is no distraction. We are focused 100%, every single day, on how we get to the playoffs. That’s it.” — Mike Hazen
- Obsession: “We obsess over questions and answers. It’s what we do every day of our lives.” — Mike Hazen
- Daily effort and observations: “…we [Hazen and I] both have the same dream and the same goal, every single day, and that’s to work tirelessly for the Arizona Diamondbacks daily to help us win a world championship….we talk about it often. We know that’s the big plan. We don’t lose sight of what’s happening day by day.” — Torey Lovullo
- Last week, the D-backs won the series against the Reds.
- This series is at Chase; the Reds play worse on-the-road.
- The D-backs are the better team; they have a better run differential (60 vs 2), and they have a better win-loss record (75-72 vs 67-79).
- The D-backs are due for another sweep! August of 2015 was last time the D-backs swept the Reds. The D-backs outscored the Reds 25-14 in that 4 games series.
- Inspired and almost desperate, the D-backs must ride a winning streak to reach the wild card game!
Do the D-backs play better on-the-road or at Chase?
In this series, the D-backs play the Reds at home. After last-week’s series-win against the Reds on-the-road, there are three possible outcomes:
- D-backs sweep a series at Chase after winning the Reds series on-the-road. There is no difference where they play. More importantly, the D-backs are streaking toward the wild-card!
- D-backs win a series at Chase after winning the Reds series on-the-road. There is no difference where they play.
- D-backs win on-the-road and lose at Chase – Strong confirmation that the D-backs play better on-the-road. The strength of the conclusion would be bolstered because the D-backs won on-the-road despite the Reds having a much higher winning percentage on their home field.
Who will pitch in this series?
Friday. Luis Castillo (141 ERA+, 10.8 SO/9, 3.6 BB/9) vs Mike Leake (78 ERA+, 3.3 SO/9, 1.1 BB/9)
In his last start against the D-backs, Luis Castillo allowed 2 earned runs in 7.2 innings. Not bad pitching, but the Reds offense was shut-out.
In his last start against the Reds, Mike Leake allowed 2 earned runs in 6.1 innings. That might have been enough for the win except for the 8th and 9th innings, when 5 bullpen pitchers combined to allow 2 earned runs and the Reds won the game. This game could be won by either team.
Saturday. Anthony DeSclafani (112 ERA+, 9.1 SO/9, 2.8 BB/9) vs Merrill Kelly (97 ERA+, 7.5 SO/9, 2.8 BB/9)
In his last start against the D-backs, Anthony DeSclafani allowed 2 earned runs (3 runs total) in 6 innings. That game could have been won by either team.
In September, Anthony Sclafini’s SO/9 of 7.6 is his lowest of the season, while his BB/9 of 3.5 is his highest since March/April. His SO/BB of 2.2 is his lowest of the season. This may be a good time for the D-backs to face him.
This game is at Chase. That’s great because Merrill Kelly pitches better at home than on-the-road (OBP .284 vs .352, OPS .716 vs .850, and SO/W 5.4 vs 1.6). Although in September, he pitched one game at Chase and one game on-the-road, his September stats look great (OBP .294, OPS .664, and SO/BB 3.5). This game is advantage D-backs!
Sunday. Trevor Bauer (62 ERA+, 11.1 SO/9, 3.9 BB/9) vs Zac Gallen (175 ERA+, 11.4 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9)
After finishing 6th in last year’s Cy Young voting, former D-back Trevor Bauer has a down season. On 31 July, he was traded from the Indians to the Reds. His ERA was 3.79 before the trade and 8.23 after the trade. This game is an opportunity for batters to face him before he returns to his Cy Young form.
Like Bauer, Zac Gallen was traded on 31 July. He went from the Marlins to the D-backs. Unlike Bauer, statistics show he is pitching better after the trade. Three great examples are FIP 2.79 vs 3.57, SO/W 3.00 vs 2.39, ERA+ 175 vs 158. This game is advantage D-backs!