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Phillies to play team closer to their level of competition

It's the battle of the 44-58ers at Citizens Bank Park as the Diamondbacks come to town and everyone tries to get themselves jacked up for some mediocre-at-best baseball.

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Christian Petersen

The Diamondbacks (44-58): A sleeping den of defanged predators. The Diamondbacks are bringing up the tail end of the NL West with the Rockies, leaving a trail of pitchers in their bumbling wake.

Recently, Brandon McCarthy went from Arizona to New York and found immediate success by doing exactly the opposite of what the Diamondbacks had told him. All it would have taken for this team to find itself smothered in July would be a few too many missteps in April and May. The Diamondbacks face planted in a division with the Dodgers and Giants, a situation that right now even Tony La Russa can't get them out of, despite winning four of their last six.

Arizona may toss a few low-grade pitchers into the trade deadline fray, but they are not as theoretically close to a blow-up as the Phillies. They're in a slightly better position, one that allows for them to prepare for next year as they maintain a chance to be competitive in a way then that they failed to be now.

So the D-backs enter Philadelphia probably in a slightly more stagnant state of boredom than the Phillies, whose lost season is, at its most optimistic, going to include hugs in the dugout. And not Mike Sweeney "Just Because" hugs.

The Phillies (44-58): There is now a Ryan Howard Situation, and Ruben Amaro confirmed that it would continue to be one by denying rumors that the Phillies were looking to trade or release their former slugger. Meanwhile, Ryan Howard continues to not be in the lineup, something that Ryan Howard felt wasn't especially good for Ryan Howard.

Heavy Hitters

Paul Goldschmidt (.310/.402/.558)

The NL's cleanup hitter at the All-Star Game hasn't done anything poorly enough yet to receive anything but praise - from other pitchers, from the press; he's the league's most unassuming star. He is hitting .394 against lefties. God help us all.

Probable Starters

Wade Miley/Kyle Kendrick

Josh Collmenter/Cliff Lee

Vidal Nuno/Roberto Hernandez

Poor, sweet Kyle gets the ball again in the series opener, and boy; can he not be looking forward to it. Fortunately for him, Arizona is just as perplexed by Wade Miley's struggles. Though maybe they shouldn't be. Miley is a third-year 27-year-old trying to carry the whole squad on his back in the absence of Patrick Corbin. But Miley is coming off a seven-inning start in which he gave up three earned runs. Replicate that and you might just probably beat Kyle Kendrick.

Josh Collmenter was recently outed as "not the sexiest" arm in the Diamondbacks rotation, and he has to live with that. Cliff Lee's only got the one last start to make other teams want him real bad, but the general consensus of the pebble-kicking public is that the only Phillies likely on the move will be ones that nobody will miss. Meanwhile, he's got that Goldschmidt BA vs. LHP to contend with after giving up six runs against the Braves.

Nuno was the return the Diamondbacks got from the Yankees for McCarthy. He just recently "figured it all" out during a 6-0 defeat of the Red Sox, four weeks ago. Not everyone agreed with this sentiment. Then he was traded. Facing him will be Hernandez, who has competition in the area of "weakest link" in the Phillies rotation with Kendrick refusing to bounce back from a constantly extending streak of bad starts. A Nuno vs. Hernandez start will surely solidify this as a midseason collision of disturbingly still bodies.

Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for tonight's MLB games. It's $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Jump in now.Here's the FanDuel link.