Y’know, if you think about it, team names would be very strange if they were rooted in reality. “Oh man, those creepily-alive socks just fought off a bunch of sailors and now they have to face a bunch of deadly, poisonous snakes!” That’s not something normal people would say. But, the Red Sox did just sweep away the Mariners, and now they’ll face the Arizona Diamondbacks. Fun times with team names!
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS – 55-53, 2nd place in the NL West (3.5 GB)
In the NL West, it’s coming down to either winning the division or going home. The NL Central seems to have the two wild cards locked up, which might end up leaving the D-Backs out in the cold come October. Arizona had a great run in the first half, up until late June, when the Los Angeles Dodgers caught lightning in a bottle and surged to the top of the standings. Of course, it doesn’t help when your offense stalls either, and now the D-Backs are in the unenviable position of having to win the West or go home.
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUP
Since the D-Backs will face two lefties in the series, I’ll post that predicted lineup.
1 – A.J. Pollock – CF – .251/.294/.409
- Pollock was primarily a bench player until injuries forced him into near-full time service. He’s got some speed, and he’s smart on the basepaths.
- Possesses some surprising power numbers. He’s got 24 doubles, and with his power-alley hits, he’s been able to stretch long singles into two-baggers easily.
- One of the top fielders on the team, which is invaluable in center field. Fenway shouldn’t give him too much of a problem.
2 – Aaron Hill – 2B – .276/.338/.469
- Very good hitter who loves to pull the ball more than anything. That swing works well with Chase Field’s friendly left field, and possibly Fenway as well.
- Powerful bat. Hill hit 26 homers and 44 doubles in 2012, good for an ISO of .220 for the year. He’s got a .193 ISO in 2013 so far.
- Tough to gauge if he’s better or worse than league average with the glove at second base. His UZR has fluctuated 3.7 in 2011 to -3.8 in 2013.
3 – Paul Goldschmidt – 1B – .300/.389/.543
- The best all-around player the Diamondbacks have. Not only can he crush homers, he even steals bases. And they aren’t cheap swipes either.
- Prodigious power. Goldy’s got a legitimate shot at 35 homers this year, and he’s already surpassed his home run total from last year.
- Can hit to all fields, and with authority. He’ll be in the race for NL MVP with a .398 wOBA, 151 wRC, and a current fWAR of 4.3.
4 – Martin Prado – 3B – .265/.316/.386
- Super-utility player who hits to contact and forces the fielders to get him out. Rarely strikes out, and draws walks here and there.
- Prado’s been the victim of bad luck, and his BABIP is just now starting to rebound. His fWAR just got over 0 for the first time this season.
- Serviceable fielder at third. Stepped in at second when Hill was injured, and did just about league average there as well.
5 – Cody Ross – LF – .271/.328/.385
- Oh yeah, he’s back. With a much lower strikeout rate and a much better glove in whatever corner of the outfield he’s starting in.
- Ross was a strong candidate to be platooned with Jason Kubel at some point earlier this season, and now it seems like it’s actually happened.
- Hitting a lot more groundballs than usual this year, which is putting a real damper on his home run total. He’s only got six.
6 – Eric Chavez – DH – .305/.352/.542 (in 194 PA)
- Chavez has repeatedly shown that there is absolutely a need for a lefty bat that absolutely murders right-handed pitching.
- Pretty inept against lefties, but at this point, the D-Backs have no other right-handed bat to place here, so it’s more of a lack of personnel thing that he’s starting against LHP.
- Still, Chavez does have a 138 wRC, so he’s been very effective whenever he’s gotten the call from manager Kirk Gibson.
7 – Wil Nieves – C – .354/.376/.417 (in 101 PA)
- Recently pressed into service with Miguel Montero just going on the DL with a strained back. Either way, it’s another righty in the lineup.
- All those numbers look fine and dandy until you realize it’s a small sample size and Nieves has a Puig-like .420 BABIP. Hoo boy.
- Almost purely a singles hitter. Doesn’t hit for a lot of power and hits a ton of grounders when he connects.
8 – Gerardo Parra – RF – .269/.333/.396
- Finally given a full-time job in 2013, Parra flourished over the first half of the season, providing great defense and solid on-base skills.
- Notoriously awful at stealing bases this year in spite of the speed he has. Never really has posted big numbers in steals, even in the minors.
- In a bad slump as of late. His BABIP has really dropped off over the last couple weeks or so.
9 – Cliff Pennington – SS – .241/.302/.308
- Normally, Didi Gregorius would be the one playing at short even with a lefty on the mound, but Pennington occasionally gets a start.
- Your typical all-glove middle infield bench player. Offers little with the bat except for some decent on-base stats.
- With his stats right now, what you see is what you get. He’s not due for regression or a rebound anytime soon.
Who’s hot? – Last 14 games
- Martin Prado: .407 OBP, 8 RBI, 158 wRC
- Eric Chavez: 2 HR, .594 SLG, 162 wRC
Who’s not? – Last 14 games
- Adam Eaton: .200 AVG, 0 SB, .242 wOBA
- Gerardo Parra: .136 AVG, .159 SLG, 26 wRC
Delgado is a pitch-to-contact guy who’s currently riding a streak of 14.2 scoreless innings, which includes a complete game shutout of the San Diego Padres in his last start. He’s gotten very good fortune in stranding a ton of baserunners, so he may go through a bit of regression soon. Lester’s been no slouch lately either, as he’s coming off a dominating start against the Baltimore Orioles in which he totaled eight strikeouts in seven innings.
If you had to pick one game to watch this weekend, it should be this one. Corbin has been amazing this season, inducing a ton of weak contact and not allowing homers, giving him a 3.02 FIP while striking out a fair few. Peavy’s been on an anti-walk crusade, walking less than two batters per nine innings and striking out just under nine per 9 IP. His HR/FB rate is much higher than his career numbers, so it suggests the Red Sox might’ve gotten not just a good pitcher, but one due to rebound very soon.
Fresh off the disabled list, twitter phenom McCarthy gets the Red Sox right out of the gate. McCarthy’s a good groundball pitcher and seldom gives up walks. A ridiculous amount of line drives led to a massively inflated BABIP, so he could be the biggest benefactor of regression to the mean. Opposing him will be Doubront, who’s done very well at keeping the ball in the park, but needs to watch the amount of walks he gives up to avoid being pulled for a high pitch count by the 5th inning.
- Nothing new to report.
Don’t expect another six-run ninth inning (no, really), but this series should be interesting to watch with all the pitch-to-contact guys. The BABIP gods will sure enjoy these games. Also, JAKE PEAVY JAKE PEAVY JAKE PEAVY