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Diamondbacks Game Preview #129: 8/31 vs. Phillies

August has gone pretty well, I’d say...

St. Louis Cardinals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Kyle Schwarber - LF Ketel Marte - DH
Rhys Hoskins - 1B Jake McCarthy - RF
Alec Bohm - 3B Emmanuel Rivera - 3B
Bryce Harper - DH Christian Walker - 1B
J.T. Realmuto - C Stone Garrett - LF
Jean Segura - 2B Cooper Hummel - C
Matt Vierling - RF Daulton Varsho - CF
Brandon Marsh - CF Sergio Alcantara - 2B
Edmundo Sosa - SS Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Bailey Falter - LHP Tommy Henry - LHP

The D-backs go into the final game of the month with a 16-11 record and a +30 run differential for August. Victory tonight would be a landmark in a number of ways. It would match their best winning streak since the franchise record 13-game run in August and September of 2017, and they have not won 17 games in a calendar month since June of 2018, when they went 19-9. Their current run differential is also Arizona’s best for a month since the +42 posted in April 2019, when they were 16-10. In particular, their current 144 runs is not something we’ve seen of late. If the D-backs can score two this evening, it will become the most runs they have scored for a month since June 2018 (152).

At +26, this five-game streak has had the team’s best run differential for a while. You need to go back April 22-26, 2019 to find a higher figure of +28. But over the past twenty seasons, since the start of 2003, there have been barely more than a handful better five-game spells for Arizona in terms of RD. If they win again tonight by, say, even a mere three runs, that’ll move them into the top five for run differential across a six-game span over the last couple of decades. I think there’s little argument that, across all areas of the game, the series against the White Sox and Phillies have certainly been the best that the Diamondbacks have played in quite some time.

Be nice if they could finish off the series sweep with another blowout victory. The D-backs had not won consecutive contests by 6+ runs since July 2019, when they beat the Rangers by margins of 9-2 and 19-4. Only once in franchise history have they ever swept an entire series of three or more games by such large margins. That came up in Canada, slightly earlier in the 2019 campaign, when they steam-rollered the Blue Jay by 8-2, 6-0 and 8-2 margins, a total over the series of 22-4. These last two games have increased the D-backs’ OPS by six points to a season high of .698. Their OPS+ has now reached 96, which is bordering on the respectable, and a .231 BA is no longer threatening historical marks.

This is continuing a significant second-half improvement. Their OPS in the 36 games since the break is 46 points better, going from .685 to .731. Put another way, they were ranked 24th in the first half, but are now 10th. Among those with more than 25 second-half PAs, the individual leader is... Emmanuel Rivera, who has a .956 OPS since coming over in the Luke Weaver trade. Christian Walker, Jake McCarthy and, to my surprise, Daulton Varsho have also posted OPSs of better than .800 since the break. At the other end, both Ketel Marte and Geraldo Perdomo sit below .600, and Alek Thomas was there too, until his four-hit outing last night. Marte’s slump is now reaching a stage of genuine concern, I’d say.