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Diamondbacks Gameday Thread, #58: 6/2 vs. Braves

I’m not changing this picture for anything. :)

Durham Bulls vs Jacksonville Jumbo Shirmp Set Number: X163612 TK1

Today's Lineups

Ronald Acuna - RF Geraldo Perdomo - 2B
Matt Olson - 1B Ketel Marte - DH
Austin Riley - 3B Corbin Carroll - CF
Sean Murphy - C Christian Walker - 1B
Travis d'Arnaud - DH Lourdes Gurriel - LF
Eddie Rosario - LF Emmanuel Rivera - 3B
Ozzie Albies - 2B Gabriel Moreno - C
Orlando Arcia - SS Nick Ahmed - SS
Michael Harris - CF Jake McCarthy - RF
Charlie Morton - RHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

If you told me you had circled this series before the season, as one which could decide which of these two teams would have the best record in the National League... I’d be looking around to see if Tom Hanks was controlling you with strings. [Yay for crappy Disney live-action remake humor!] And, yet here we are. At the same time we enter the fray against the Braves, the Dodgers will be taking the field in Los Angeles against the Yankees. By the end of the night it’s possible the D-backs could be back in first place in the NL West. When we lost that position on May 1 to LA, quite a few people thought that would be it, especially as the Dodgers opened a 3.5 game lead by May 19.

But over the last 12 games, the D-backs have the best record in the majors at 9-3, and have quietly snuck up to make it a fight once more. This won’t be an easy series, but the Braves should be just as concerned about the D-backs. The records are the same: Atlanta has a better run differential (+58 vs. +24), but have looked vulnerable, most obviously losing a series to the A’s (tee-hee!). Both teams have very similar records against winning opponents. The Braves are 16-14 against sides at or above .500, while the D-backs are 16-13 in the same category. All six starting pitchers this series are righties. Atlanta are 23-18 against them; Arizona are 24-13. I’d not be betting on either team to win this series.

This one could be key, with Atlanta appearing to have a definite pitching edge tomorrow, and Arizona on Sunday. Kelly has been very solid of late, allowing one earned run in four of his last six outings, and two in another. Over that time, he has an ERA of 2.41 and a K:BB of 44:8 over 37.1 innings, keeping his FIP right down there at 2.62. But with an OPS+ of 110, second to the Dodgers in the NL, this is likely the best line-up Merrill will have seen since his first start in April, against Los Angeles. It’s going to be a fascinating series and one which I hope the D-backs will acquit themselves well in.