The Diamondbacks are hovering around the .500 mark this season, which is right around where most people predicted them to be. With the Dodgers running away with the NL West, the wild card seems like Arizona’s only path to the playoffs. If they slip in that race, they might be willing to sell off some pieces before the trade deadline. If that happens, the Phillies should definitely be interested.
Current record: 34-32, Third place in National League West
The last time they met
The Phillies visited Arizona in August 2018 and lost two out of three. The final game of the series was a 6-0 shutout in which they were dominated by Patrick Corbin. The good news is that Corbin has taken his talents elsewhere, and he shouldn’t be much of a problem for the Phillies this week.
Coming in hot
The Diamondbacks have won four in a row, coming off a sweep of the Blue Jays. That seems impressive until you remember the Blue Jays are 19 games under .500, and a lot of teams have gotten hot by playing them.
Lost their Gold
It used to be when you played the Diamondbacks, the first priority was stopping first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. But the former franchise player was traded to the Cardinals in the offseason. The Diamondbacks’ new first baseman is Christian Walker, whose offensive numbers are actually superior to Goldschmidt’s this season.
It is June 6th.— CraigInPhoenix (@craiginphoenix) June 7, 2019
Dbacks who have a higher OPS than Paul Goldschmidt:
Carson Kelly has almost caught him.
Oh, Zack Greinke too.
Bullets were dodged with that one.
If the Diamondbacks decide that fighting for a Wild Card berth isn’t worth it, there are plenty of players on their roster who could interest the Phillies. Starting pitcher Zack Greinke costs a lot of money, but he’s having a far better year than anyone in the Phillies’ rotation. If the Phillies are looking for less pricey players, Robbie Ray might be of interest.
Closer Greg Holland might prove to be a boon to the Phillies’ injury-ravaged bullpen, and if the Phillies wanted some help for their offense, they could pursue third baseman Eduardo Escobar or outfielders Adam Jones and David Peralta. (If you recall, the Phillies tried to trade for Jones last season, but he refused to waive his no-trade rights.)
With so many players who could potentially help a contending team down the stretch, it figures that quite a few teams will be keeping a close eye on the Diamondbacks’ fortunes over the next month and a half.
Where did this guy come from?
I mentioned Eduardo Escobar as a potential trade target. If the name doesn’t sound familiar, it’s because he was never much of an offensive presence before this season. In 2018, he took a step forward, and this season, he’s having a career year at age 30. He’s leading the National League in triples, and with 15 home runs, he’s on pace to shatter his career high of 23.
He’s signed to a very reasonable contract for two more years, so the Diamondbacks probably won’t be eager to part ways with him. Teams will have to ask if he’s a late bloomer who finally hit his stride, or if he’s simply enjoying a fluky career year.
If the Phillies want to slow the Diamondbacks’ offense, they’ll need to watch out for second baseman/center fielder Ketel Marte. Marte has moved all around the top of the Arizona lineup, but he’s been especially dangerous as a leadoff hitter, with a 1.045 OPS when batting first.
Here come the rookie pitchers
The Phillies won’t have to face either Greinke or Ray this series. Instead, the D’Backs are scheduled to start not one, not two, but three rookie starters.
Taylor Clarke is making his fifth career start. His numbers don’t look great, but there’s some skewing thanks to a particularly poor start against the Dodgers. He’ll be followed by Jon Duplantier. He began the season as a reliever before being moved to the rotation. Don’t expect him to last too deep into the game, as his longest outing thus far was just five innings.
Merrill Kelly may be a rookie, but unlike his rotation-mates, he isn’t young. He’s thirty years old, having spent a few years pitching professionally in Korea. His return to America started off shaky, but he’s been very good since June began, giving up just two runs in his last two starts.
No new injuries please
(Please note that I am loudly knocking on wood as I write this)
Although there was a brief scare with J.T. Realmuto on Sunday, it seems the Phillies have gone an entire series without one of their players suffering an injury that will cause them to miss some time. Can the Phillies keep it up, or have I jinxed Jake Arrieta’s elbow tendons by writing this?
The Diamondbacks are a decent team that’s been playing well lately, but expecting great things with three straight starts by rookie pitchers isn’t a good bet. (Even keeping in mind that “rookie” may be a stretch for one of them.) The Phillies should win two out of three.