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Preview, #126: 8/21 vs. Angels

Strap in. For pretty much every game is significant the rest of the way.

Gatorade All-Star Workout Day Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Kole Calhoun - RF A.J. Pollock - CF
David Fletcher - 2B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Albert Pujols - 1B David Peralta - LF
Andrelton Simmons - SS Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Rene Rivera - C Steven Souza - RF
Taylor Ward - 3B Ketel Marte - 2B
Kaleb Cowart - LF Nick Ahmed - SS
Eric Young Jr. - CF Jeff Mathis - C
Felix Pena - RHP Patrick Corbin - LHP

I hope you enjoyed your off-day - there’s another one along on Thursday, and I recommend you make the most of them, and relax as much as you can. Because I get the feeling that there’s going to be a lot of stress over the final 37 games of the season. Likely considerably more than last year, for at this point, the division was out of reach. After 125 games in 2017, the D-backs trailed the Dodgers by 21 games. We were all about the wild-card, where we were half a game behind the Rockies, but had a three game edge over the Brewers for the second-spot. On that date, August 21, Fangraphs gave us an 81.5% chance of a wild-card spot, so we were very much a favorite. Tension? What tension?

This season, the overall odds are not as good, but we occupy first-place, albeit by the slimmest of margins over the Rockies, with the Dodgers 212 games back. Unlike last season. we have a legitimate chance of winning the division - but if that option fails, then the fight for the wild-card slots looks likely to be a real battle. Seven games today have playoff implications of one kind or another, so the scoreboard watching promises to be fast and furious. I’m kinda glad to have got a free MLB.TV subscription through T-Mobile: I suspect there will be a considerable amount of hate-watching going on over the next six weeks or so. Given I rarely bother watching any other team, that says a lot.

The Angels have been hovering around .500 for ever. They have been sitting in a -3 to +2 band for close to two months now (since June 26), but haven’t posted a winning month since April. They started the year like gangbusters, going 13-3, but then got swept by Boston, being outscored by a total of 27-3, and never truly recovered. Anaheim was tied for first on May 14, but have gone 38-47 since that point, and come to Arizona occupying fourth place in the hotly-contested NL West, sitting with an exactly even record. It looks very much like the best player of our generation is going to spend October once again on the sidelines, which is sad.