Baseball

Series Preview – Diamondbacks vs. Cubs: On The Mend

vs.

RECORDS: Diamondbacks 10-9   Cubs 8-9

GAMETIMES: Friday-Sunday 1:20

TV: NBCSN Friday and Sunday, ABC 7 Saturday

UNPAINTED HUFFHINES: AZ Snake Pit

PROBABLE PITCHERS

Merrill Kelly vs. Kyle Hendricks

Zach Greinke vs. Yu Darvish

Robbie Ray vs. Jose Quintana

PROBABLE ARIZONA LINEUP

Wilmer Flores – 2B

Eduardo Escobar – 3B

David Peralta – LF

Adam Jones – RF

Christian Walker – 1B

Ketel Marte – CF

Nick Ahmed – SS

Caleb Joseph– C

 

PROBABLY CUBS LINEUP

Daniel Descals0 – 2B

Kris Bryant – RF

Anthony Rizzo – 1B

Javier Baez – SS

Willson Contreras – C

Jason Heyward – CF

David Bote – 3B

Kyle Schwarber – LF

 

It’s the second half of what Greater Cubdom is hoping is “Recovery Week.” The first half went perfectly, a sweep of the grand theft that is the Miami Marlins. Sadly, the Diamondbacks haven’t been playing along of late.

The Diamondbacks were an all-right team last year. They couldn’t quite hang on with Colorado and the Dodgers in a down year last year, running out of gas in September. They must be looking at Colorado’s step-on-a-rake start and wonder what might have happened if they stuck with it. They let Patrick Corbin walk in free agency, which fair enough, pitchers that throw that many sliders don’t last long and aren’t worth a huge investment probably. Still, it didn’t feel like the Diamondbacks had to say, “Fuck it, this will never work,” and blow it all up. But that’s what teams do now, because really, what’s the penalty for doing so?

So out went Paul Goldschmidt, whom they also decided they would never have a chance of re-signing, though how much less likely would they have been than the Cardinals? AJ Pollock moved up the I-10 to the Dodgers. And the white flag has been raised.

The D-Backs have also been bitten (pun probably intended) by the injury bug, with Steven Souza out for the year and Jay Clam also on the DL. Taijuan Walker is recovering from the ol’ TJ and should be back midseason, but likely in the pen.

That hasn’t stopped them from starting out over .500 so far, and winners of four in a row. And about .500 is where you feel they should be after looking it over. Everything has been ok. The lineup has Peralta and Adam Jones going nuclear, and only one of those has a chance to last. And Peralta’s .429 BABIP suggests neither do, because we know what Adam Jones is now. Christian Walker has done a fine Goldschmidt impression at first so far, and has some decent numbers in the minors, but he’s 28 and if he were a thing we’d probably know by now. Jarrod Dyson is somehow getting on base regularly, which has to be some sort of conspiracy because there’s no way. Everyone else is going up there with a banjo.

The rotation is led by Luke Weaver, whom the Cubs will duck this weekend. He was one of the prizes for Goldschmidt, and so far has a sub-3.00 FIP and is sitting down nearly 11 hitters per nine innings. Zack Greinke is having one of the weirder starts to a season you can imagine. He has over an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio, and yet his ERA and FIP are well over 5.00 because a third of the fly balls he’s given up have landed in someone’s beer. He must love the juiced ball! It’s not totally bad luck, as he’s getting less grounders and more flies than he ever has, as well as louder contact, but a third of those flies going for homers is basically preposterous. That will come down. Robbie Ray can’t find the plate with a truffle pig, and yet will still throw six innings of one-run ball against the Cubs BECAUSE. Merrill Kelly is some journeyman they tossed into the rotation to get by the health inspection, and his change-up has gotten him to be useful. Again, probably won’t last.

The pen was something of a strength last year until running out of gas, and returns Hirano, Bradley, and Chafin. Hirano and Chafin however have been tossing volleyballs up there so far, and T.J. McFarland is on the DL. They’re getting by with a reclamation of Greg Holland, who was his own traveling fireworks show last year. But he’s not walking nearly as many hitters so far, and is striking out nearly half of the hitters he sees. I don’t know why either. Bullpens’ll bullpen on ya.

For the Cubs, something of a new alignment as Bryant makes his first start in right today to keep Bote and Descalso in the lineup as Zobrist’s .271 slugging isn’t really worth putting up with his walk-up song right now. Heyward slots again to center. Hendricks looks to get on the board along with all the other starters, and he’ll have to actually be able to predict where his fastball is going which he was unable to do in his last start last Saturday. Darvish and Greinke is a fun matchup of enigmas.

The dizzying heights of .500 await.

 

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