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Preview, #137: 9/2 @ Dodgers

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We COULD have been going for a four-game sweep. Now? Not so much...

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS DODGERS
Jon Jay - RF Joc Pederson - LF
A.J. Pollock - CF Justin Turner - 3B
David Peralta - LF Manny Machado - SS
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Cody Bellinger - CF
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Brian Dozier - 2B
Daniel Descalso - 2B Yasmani Grandal - C
Ketel Marte - SS Max Muncy - 1B
Alex Avila - C Enrique Hernandez - RF
Clay Buchholz - RHP Walker Buehler - RHP

There’s no doubt the last couple of games have been severely disappointing, with the Diamondbacks blowing late leads in both of them. However, if Arizona can win this afternoon, they’ll leave Los Angeles with a split of the four-game series and in sole possession of first place, exactly as they came in. I’d have been perfectly happy with that on the way into the city of angels, so even if that might feel like a missed opportunity now, we can’t complain too much. Of course, the key word there is “if”, and if we lose three out of four, that will certainly make things harder. Though even should it happen, the team has dropped out of first on multiple occasions this season, and always regained it.

And so, we we turn to Clay Buchholz, who has been extraordinarily good of late. Over his last three starts, Buchholz has allowed only a solo home-run to Hunter Renfroe of the Padres over 23 innings, for an ERA of 0.39. Now, we can’t expect that to carry on forever, but his K:BB over that time is 16:2, and the resulting BABIP of .209 is probably higher than I expected, given the ERA. In August he was 5-for-5 in giving us better than quality starts, going six innings or more and allowing TWO or fewer earned runs each time. There’s a good argument that he was our best pitcher last month, and it’d be nice if he was so again in September.

But it has not really been the D-backs’ starting pitching which has been the problem. On the this road-trip, they have gone 39.1 innings with an ERA of 1.60 and a K:BB ratio of 39:8. Much more to blame are an offense which has batted .181 overall, gone 5-for-36 with runners in scoring position, have a K:BB of 46:!0 and managed a total of just ten runs over the six games. Given that, it’s actually quite impressive we’ve managed to win two of those contests. We need to do a better job of getting on base, get some hits with runners in scoring position and not cough up the late-inning lead this time. Do that, and we can head back to Phoenix in okay shape.