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D-backs Preview #154: 9/24 vs. Dodgers

The D-backs won’t win the West. But they certainly can impact who does.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DODGERS DIAMONDBACKS
Mookie Betts - RF Josh Rojas - SS
Corey Seager - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Trea Turner - 2B Daulton Varsho - CF
Max Muncy - 1B Kole Calhoun - RF
Will Smith - C David Peralta - LF
Justin Turner - 3B Pavin Smith - 1B
AJ Pollock - LF Carson Kelly - C
Gavin Lux - CF Josh VanMeter - 3B
Tony Gonsolin - RHP H. Castellanos - RHP

Nine games left for the D-backs, and six are against the teams currently battling fiercely for the NL West title. Just one game separates the Giants and Dodgers, with nine to play. It has been a long time since the division has been this close at the end of play on September 23. For comparison, on the same date in the last full season (2019), the Dodgers were 2012 games up on the second-placed team - who were the Diamondbacks. 2018 was almost there, with Colorado 112 games back of Los Angeles. But to find anything as tight as this, you have to go back to September 23, 2010, when the Giants were half a game ahead of the Padres. San Diego could only go 5-5 down the stretch, and missed even the wild-card.

Both San Francisco and Los Angeles are on the road this weekend. The former probably have the slightly harder task, facing the Rockies in Coors Field, where anything can happen (and probably will, typically in the eighth inning or later). But if they can get through that with their current edge intact, they’ll be feeling cautiously optimistic, for the Dodgers have a tougher last week. While both sides are at home and will face the Padres in one of those series, Los Angeles will also see the Brewers, while the Giants get the easier tasking of hosting the Diamondbacks. But I would not be at all surprised if this ends up going down to the final series of the season.

Torey Lovullo notes

The Veteran Players still want to finish strong and make a statement.

Young players going through a right of passage of a full season: “That extra month of baseball is always a challenge for their first time. They’ve been managing it extremely well... I think at times it’s more of a mental adjustment and more of a focus adjustment , and being smart with your extra work and your daily workload prior to the game.“

Daulton Varho’s legs and speed are a key part of his tool box. Asked if having him catch a lot is a concern in wearing him down and if they’ve discussed: We’ve had those conversations a lot. We’re still trying to figure out what is the best path forward for him... He’s a special player... we want to maximize his potential to be as good as he can possibly be. We don’t know that answer but we are aware of the fact the more you squat, the more wear and tear on your legs the slower you become. He’s a very fast baseball player... we do know that it’s a big ask, but for the time being we are going to continue on this course.

Asked about player comps of other catchers that ran well, including Craig Biggio, Jason Kendall, Brad Ausmus, Torey seemed to connect him more to Biggio.

Nick Ahmed is still testing his arm. Yesterday he was feeling better. Asked if it wasn’t better to just shut him down this late in the season, Torey said Nick wants to play and push through and be an example, be a leader. ”He’s making a statement for everyone else around him. he;s banged up , he still wants to play baseball games, That’s what leadership is. You want to set the tone for some of these younger guys.. I endorse what he’s trying to do”

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]