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Preview, #103: 7/24 vs. Orioles

Will today prove to be the beginning of the end?

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

ORIOLES DIAMONDBACKS
Jonathan Villar - 2B Tim Locastro - LF
Trey Mancini - RF Ketel Marte - CF
Anthony Santander - CF Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Renato Nunez - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Dwight Smith - LF Adam Jones - RF
Pedro Severino - C Wilmer Flores - 2B
Chris Davis - 1B Nick Ahmed - SS
Richie Martin - SS Carson Kelly - C
John Means - LHP Taylor Clarke - RHP

I think it’s safe to say that if the Diamondbacks do not win today, then Mike Hazen will be fully justified in entering sell mode for the trade deadline next week. Losing a series at home, against a team on pace to lose well over a hundred games, is not the behavior of playoff outfits. Of course, it’s only three games, and anything can happen in a short series. But this is a team whose post-season hopes have been blinking in and out like a faulty neon sign for two months or more. I doubt anyone would argue with Hazen for going onto Facebook Marketplace and placing a few adverts (“Starting pitcher: works great through five innings!”) were Arizona to lose this one.

And who better to start such a vital game than Taylor Clarke. Oh, I’m sorry.

And who better to start such a vital game than Taylor Clarke.

There, that’s more like it. Over his last six outings, he has an 8.49 ERA, and batters’ line against him is .354/.421/.737 for an 1.158 OPS. Basically, entire opposing lineups turn into Christian Yelich when they have faced Clarke over the last month. Probably our only hope is that the offense has its hitting shoes on. And they do seem to find an extra gear when he starts. He has received an average of 7.38 runs in support per start: free tacos have been delivered in five of his last six appearances, and the team has reached double-digits in half of Clarke’s 10 starts. All our other starters combined have only seen 10+ runs eight times this year in their 92 games. So, yeah: I suspect today, it’s a case of hit or die...

There was one bit of good news for the team, with the return of outfielder David Peralta from the injured list, though he is not in this afternoon’s starting line-up. He had been out since July 3rd with a recurrence of the right shoulder issue, which had also caused him to miss time at the end of May. David had more of a token rehab assignment, playing two games in the Arizona Rookie League, in which he went 1-for-4 with four walks. To make room for Peralta back on the roster, the team optioned Ildemaro Vargas to Reno after last night’s game. Whether it will simply turn out to be the Freight Train showing up in time for the pronouncement of death, remains to be seen...