|Jonathan Villar - 2B||Jarrod Dyson - LF|
|Hanser Alberto - 3B||Ketel Marte - CF|
|Trey Mancini - RF||Eduardo Escobar - 2B|
|Renato Nunez - 1B||Christian Walker - 1B|
|Anthony Santander - LF||Adam Jones - RF|
|Pedro Severino - C||Jake Lamb - 3B|
|Stevie Wilkerson - CF||Nick Ahmed - SS|
|Richie Martin - SS||Carson Kelly - C|
|Aaron Brooks - RHP||Robbie Ray - LHP|
It has been a while since the Diamondbacks have had a series which they have unashamedly been expected to win. Let around, two of them, back-to-back. But this is what we get here, as Arizona faced first the worst team in the American League, and then the worst team in the National League. Together, it’s seven games which are virtually as powder-puff of a schedule as could have been assembled, against opponents with a combined record of 67-128, engaged in a frantic race for the #1 draft pick in 2020. Baltimore are 20-51 against opponents who are at or above .500, so if the Diamondbacks can’t take two of these three, they might as well go home.
Yet it’s worth reminding yourself that they are a major-league club, and even at their current pace of 111 losses, will still win twenty more times over the course of the remaining schedule. They just took two out of three from the reigning World Series champions, the Boston Red Sox over the weekend, scoring 22 runs. Baltimore blanked them on Sunday, as Asher Wojciechowski and two relievers combined on a one-hitter. So, while the D-backs certainly should win each and every game in this series, it will take more than them simply showing up and slapping hands. Still, they are the worst pitching staff in the league, with a collective ERA of 5.60. As a yardstick, Matt Andriese this season has a 5.91 ERA.
If that doesn’t fix the D-backs’ home offensive struggles... Though it has been less a problem of scoring runs for Arizona, than when they score them. The D-backs are 7-7 in July, despite having outscored the opposition by 20 runs overall, and averaging 5.64 runs per game. That’s considerably better than any other month this year: they averaged 5.23 R/G in April, and went 16-10. The problem is that close to half of those runs (37 of 79) came in just three games; the average in the rest is 3.82. After the traumas of the weekend series against the Brewers, you’d be forgiven for being more concerned about the bullpen. But the further the team can climb past free tacos, the more bullpen-proof the game is likely to be.