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Preview, #127: 8/22 vs. Angels

The D-backs rank 2nd in the league vs. opposing starters, and 14th vs. relievers.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/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 Daniel Descalso - 2B
Taylor Ward - 3B Steven Souza - RF
Jabari Blash - LF Nick Ahmed - SS
Eric Young Jr. - CF Alex Avila - C
O. Despaigne - RHP Clay Buchholz - RHP

What a difference 48 hours makes. Late on Sunday afternoon, I was preparing to Tweet out a list of all the previous occasions we had lost first place, with the imminent expectation that the D-backs were about to drop behind the Rockies. But things look considerably better now. A 112-game lead may not seem like much, but the D-backs haven’t had a bigger edge at the top of the NL West since the very first day of July. Then, there were 78 games left to play: now, we’re down to less than half that. And as the team in first place, every day that comes off the schedule with our lead intact, makes it that much harder for any of those behind Arizona to catch up.

I think we are catching the Angels at a good time, without Mike Trout or Justin Upton, and Shohei Ohtani restricted to a pinch-hitting role, since this series has no designated hitter spot for him to occupy. With Ian Kinsler now a member of the Red Sox, that only leaves Andrelton Simmons as an active Angel position player worth 1.5 or more bWAR this year, and leaves the Angels’ line-up looking much less of a threat. Hoping that Clay Buchholz can build on his complete game last time out to keep them in check, while our patented early offense takes it to Odrisamer Despaigne and his 6.29 ERA. I’ll take 5 at the over-under for outs before the “Why can we never hit scrub pitchers?” whining starts up tonight.

That would, of course, be conveniently forgetting the Padres series, where their four starters combined to last only 14.2 innings in total, with a 10.43 combined ERA. But that has been the way all year. Versus starting pitchers, Arizona ranks 2nd by OPS in the league, at .762 (behind only the Rockies #BecauseCoors). Versus relievers? We’re 14th, at .672. Now, generally teams do hit relievers less well. However, considering the league average is 13 OPS points, our gap of 90 is striking. Something to watch going forward. Anyway, looke like another day of frantic scoreboard watching is in prospect. If everything goes exactly the same way as yesterday, I think we’d all settle for that.