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Preview, #117: 8/10 @ Reds

Might Clay Buchholz be the unsung hero of the D-backs’ season so far?

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MLB: San Francisco Giants at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

David Peralta - LF Jose Peraza - SS
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Joey Votto - 1B
A.J. Pollock - CF Eugenio Suarez - 3B
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Scooter Gennett - 2B
Steven Souza - RF Phillip Ervin - LF
Ketel Marte - 2B Mason Williams - RF
Nick Ahmed - SS Tucker Barnhart - C
Alex Avila - C A. DeSclafani - RHP
Clay Buchholz - RHP Billy Hamilton - CF

The D-backs’ rotation was an area of pre-season concern, with the lack of depth a problem many felt might be an issue. It wasn’t long before it was tested. In the 14th game of the season, Taijuan Walker made his final start, his elbow requiring Tommy John surgery. Matt Koch stepped in, but it was when Robbie Ray hit the DL with an oblique strain at the end of April that the flailing began. The team signed Clay Buchholz on May 4, after the pitcher exercised the opt-out clause in his minor-league deal with the Royals. While in the minors building his pitch count, Kris Medlen and Troy Scribner started for Arizona. It did not go well: Over 7.2 innings, they were charged with nine earned runs on 13 hits, with ten walks.

Therefore, at the very least: Thank you, Mr. Buchholz for saving us from more of the above. But he has been a great deal more. Over 10 starts, Clay has a 2.68 ERA, and although that reflects some remarkable early luck with balls in play [over his first 11 innings, he had a .067 BABIP!], he has been getting better. Buchholz has won each of his last four starts, with a 2.15 ERA and a 25:7 K:BB ratio, over 23.1 innings - his BABIP over this time is .290, suggesting little luck is involved in those recent results. The schedule hasn’t done him many favors either, as those games included wins on the road against contending teams, in the Pirates and Cubs. The Reds will hopefully pose an easier opponent.

The next nine games definitely represent the easiest stretch of the remaining schedule for the Diamondbacks. They need to take the opportunity to build as large a cushion as possible on the Dodgers, because September is definitely tougher for Arizona. I think the team needs to go at least 6-3 against these three opponents, in order to put some distance between themselves and Los Angeles. Hopefully, the likes of the Rockies will do something to help us over their games against the Dodgers - though after last night’s latest bullpen atrocity exhibition at Coors, I’m not relying on them to help much!