We just played these Cubs in Chicago not to long ago. The Diamondbacks came away victorious in that, winning three out of four. That got the Diamondbacks sole possession of the third Wild Card spot, and they were within two games of the Cubs for the second spot.
Then they ran into the Powerhouse From Queens, The Mets, and lost three out of four. That dropped them to... a tie for the third Wild Card and 2.5 games behind the Cubs for the second wild card spot. A huge part of that is because while we were getting beat up by the Mets, the Rockies were beating up the Cubs and taking two out of three from them.
By results, I feel like it should be a time for despair, but the fact that all of the potential Wild Card teams have gone 5-5 as well over the past ten games makes that confusing. Either way, for some insane reason, the Diamondbacks still have a shot here.
Game 1: 9/15, 6:40 PM: Brandon Pfaadt (1-8, 6.25 ERA/70 ERA+, 1.45 WHIP) vs. Justin Steele (16-3, 2.49 ERA/180 ERA+, 1.12 WHIP)
The Diamondbacks have lost the last three Pfaadt starts, and he hasn’t exactly made it competitive either. He gave up five ER to the Dodgers, three ER (in less than four innings) to the Rockies), and then four to these Cubs in his last start. In his starts against the Cubs and Dodgers, he allowed multiple home runs, his biggest weakness. If he doesn’t adjust to the Cubs, it couldn’t turn into a home run derby.
The good news is that when the Diamondbacks faced Steele last weekend, he only struck out six of them. The bad news is, he lived up to the hype in every other way, going seven innings of six hit, one run ball, and he didn’t walk anyone. It seems likely that he’s going to be at a minimum top three in the Cy Young voting at the end of the year, and that’s who the Diamondbacks have to go through in game 1.
Game 2: 9/16, 5:10 PM: Zach Davis (2-5, 6.81 ERA/64 ERA+, 1.60 WHIP) vs. Kyle Hendricks (6-7, 3.71 ERA/121 ERA+, 1.15 WHIP)
Zach Davies put together two very respectable starts against the Reds and the Orioles to start the month, however, since then, he has reverted back to his normal form and then some, failing to get out of the fourth inning in his next two starts, giving up five to the Rockies and three to the Mets. He missed the Cubs series, so this will be his first time facing them this season.
The Diamondbacks weren’t able to manage much against Kyle Hendricks in the last series. He went 5 2⁄3 inning, gave up two runs, struck out four, while walking just one. Hendricks has been healthy this season, and has looked a lot more like his old self than the well below average pitcher he had been in his two past, injury shortened, seasons.
Game 3: 9/17, 4:10 PM: Ryne Nelson (7-8, 5.53 ERA/79 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP) vs. Jordan Wicks (3-0, 1.99 ERA/229 ERA+, 1.05 WHIP)
Nelson’s first start back was against the Cubs, and thanks to the friendly winds in the friendly confines, held the home team to just a single run in 5 2⁄3 . Unfortunately, he did not have the wind working in his favor in his next start against the Mets. He gave up six runs in just 4 1⁄3 inning, in route to a 7-4 loss.
Wicks was the Cubs first round pick in 2021 draft and is already making an impact in the majors with his first four starts. Cubs have won all four of them, and Wicks has given up a total of five runs in 22 2⁄3 innings. He’s the only pitcher in this series that the Diamondbacks haven’t faced this season, but they’ll still have their work cut out figuring out the new guy on the block.
The only possible conclusion for this series is that anything less than a series win is probably fatal for the Diamondbacks’ playoff hopes. Realistically, to keep them fully alive, it probably needs to be a sweep. Jack had a really great article about that today that breaks down the records needed, and, without giving anything away, they need to win. A lot.
We wanted meaningful games in September, just remember that as we’re pulling our hair out this weekend :-)