"Short of something truly dramatic happening - and, by that, I mean a ten-game winning streak - this will the last one of these for the season."
That's what I wrote at the 130-game mark, after the Diamondbacks had gone 3-7, to drop onto the outer fringes of the wild-card solar system with the 10th best record in the league. And yet, here we are again. For the D-backs came within two outs of reeling off exactly that ten-game winning streak. They are still outsiders in the chase, but the mere fact they are in it at all is damn impressive. Which is why I am here, checking in from San Diego on what was supposed to be an off-day for everyone. Not least: me.
Not that the remarkable surge has done an enormous amount for the team’s playoff hopes. For, as has been the pattern throughout the season, the rest of the teams in contention have more or less matched Arizona’s performance. Here is what the rest of the competition has done, in the time while the Diamondbacks have been going 9-1:
- ARI 9-1
- STL 8-3
- ATL 7-2
- PIT 7-3
- CHC 6-3
- WSN 6-3
- PHI 5-5
- MIL 4-5
So, while Arizona have gone from having the 10th-best record in the league to the equal 6th, they have only gone from 5.5 to 3 games back of the Cubs. With the number of remaining games slashed from 32 to 22, time is very much not on the D-backs side any longer. There were times when going 9-1 would have made a great deal of a difference. This wasn't one of those. So here are where the various projection systems sit this morning:
- Fangraphs: 8.6% (division: 0.0%; wild-card 8.6%)
- Baseball Prospectus: 17.3% (division: 0.0%; wild-card 17.3%)
- FiveThirtyEight: 18% (division 0%; wild-card 18%)
- Numberfire: 11.7% (division: 0.2%; wild-card 11.5%)
- Baseball Reference: 22.5% (division < 0.1%; wild-card 22.5%)
Needless to say, that is a great deal better than ten games ago, with an increase of between 6x and 9x, depending on the system. Which is not QUITE as good as it sounds, considering that they were all sitting at 3.3% or lower last time we checked in. Still, considering I was expecting not to be writing this at all, it is still cool. For now, all Arizona can do is keep playing their own games. The schedule is in their favor the rest of the way. Maintaining a .900 winning percentage would probably be good enough the rest of the way...
Even if the team does not make the playoffs, there is a very real chance they will improve on last season’s 82-win season. They need to go just 10-12 the rest of the way for that. Considering that over the last year they have lost Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke, A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin, that would be quite the remarkable achievement.