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Preview, #142: 9/7 @ Reds

I am enjoying the second half of the season much more than I expected.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Jarrod Dyson - RF Phillip Ervin - CF
Ketel Marte - CF Joey Votto - 1B
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Eugenio Suarez - 3B
Christian Walker - 1B Aristides Aquino - RF
Wilmer Flores - 2B Jose Iglesias - SS
Josh Rojas - LF Freddy Galvis - 2B
Nick Ahmed - SS Curt Casali - C
Carson Kelly - C Josh VanMeter - LF
Alex Young - LHP Luis Castillo - RHP

The Diamondbacks are 28-22 in the second half, after trading away their best pitcher at the deadline. That’s a 91-win pace, and stands in sharp contrast to last season, where the team imploded down the stretch. Indeed, if Arizona beats Cincinnati this afternoon, they will equal their win tally from the second half of 2018, when they went 29-36 - with a full twenty games left to play. Considering the significant players the Diamondbacks have lost in the past season, not just Greinke, but also Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, what the team has done since the break is remarkable. And overall, 2019 has already surpassed 2018 in fWAR, both in pitching (13.1 vs 12.8) and hitting (23.0 vs. 20.6).

I think this merits a deeper dive on a future off-day, to see from where the improvement has come this season. For the D-backs only need to go 9-12 the rest of the way to post a better record. Some of the reasons are obvious, such as Ketel Marte’s breakout year, and in particular, his second half. Marte has put up 3.2 fWAR in just 46 games since the break, considerably more than Christian Yelich (2.2) or Cody Bellinger (1.9). But there have been number of other factors: Eduardo Escobar, Nick Ahmed, heck, even Alex Avila have all been significantly better than last year. The bullpen, perhaps surprisingly, is also much improved at 2.6 fWAR, compared to 0.4 in 2018.

The team does still face an uphill fight to get into one of the wild-card spots, though the schedule is definitely in their favor, and the Cubs rotation is a Yu Darvish away from complete meltdown. A winning road-trip, here and in New York, would still be almost required, and yesterdays victory was a good first step towards that goal. Keeping up the pressure on Chicago with another win behind Alex Young this afternoon will help further. However, note that the full recap will be delayed, since we are heading back from San DIeg this afternoon. Even a quick recap is dependent on the game being over before we are ordered to put our mobile devices into airplane mode...