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Preview, #116: 8/8 vs. Phillies

The rubber game, so all to play for... Which way will the roller-coaster go?

The Property Brothers Visit Walt Disney World Photo by Chloe Rice/Disney Resorts via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Cesar Hernandez - 2B Jon Jay - RF
Rhys Hoskins - LF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Nick Williams - RF David Peralta - LF
Carlos Santana - 1B A.J. Pollock - CF
Asdrubal Cabrera - 3B Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Odubel Herrera - CF Daniel Descalso - 2B
Scott Kingery - SS Ketel Marte - SS
Vince Velasquez - RHP Alex Avila - C
Andrew Knapp - C Patrick Corbin - LHP

You might be surprised to learn that Arizona have actually played better baseball, overall, so far in the second half than in the first. Their winning percentage before the break was .546, but since it, they’ve gone 10-8 for a .556 W%. Their run differential has also improved significantly, going from +0.44 runs per game to +1.22. A factor might be that eleven of the eighteen games have been at home - but as we know, there hasn’t EXACTLY been a big home-field advantage at Chase so far. Can’t say we’ve had help from the schedule either, with the 18 games exactly evenly divided between opponents who are now above and below .500 (and SFG were above .500 when they arrived, but are now below).

It’s indicative of the roller-coaster that was the first half. The average winning percentage may have been .556, but in each of April, May and June the team wasn’t within a hundred points of that average, at .720, .296 and .679 respectively. We’re brilliant! No, we suck! Wait, we’re brilliant again! The three weeks in the second half of the year have been much more “normal”, and indeed, since the end of June, the D-backs have played exactly .500 baseball. We will probably need better than that going forward, however. .500 ball would only take us to 86-87 wins, which is perilously marginal. 87 wins would have got an NL wild-card spot the last two seasons. 86 wins didn’t.

Perception has perhaps also been skewed by the early struggles of the new arrivals in the bullpen. Matt Andriese, Jake Diekman and Brad Ziegler haven’t made a glowing first impression on fans - here’s their combined line to this point:
A/D/Z: 11.1 IP, 19 H, 13 R, 10 ER, 5 BB, 9 SO, 7.94 ERA
They’ve all had different issues. Andriese has allowed three home-runs in seven innings; Diekman owns a K:BB ratio of 1:4; and Ziegler has been hit at a .545 average. Obviously, small sample sizes, and things will regress (Ziegler’s BABIP is also .545), but as we’ve seen with Avila, once fan confidence in a new player is lost, it’s hard to regain,