As the playoff near, it’s time to take a look at the Arizona Diamondbacks Wild Card push in the NL standings race.
On August 24th, the Arizona Diamondbacks were shutout by the Milwaukee Brewers 4-0 in front of a sold-out Miller Park crowd. The D-Backs were then two games under .500 at 64-66. They were 5.5 games out of a National League wild-card spot with four teams still to jump before challenging the Chicago Cubs for that spot in the wild card race. Rookie Zac Gallen had a decent outing, but without any run support from his offense. With the announcement that David Peralta would now miss the rest of the year with AC joint inflammation in his shoulder and a series loss to the Brewers now guaranteed, things were looking bleak for Arizona’s playoff aspirations.
Defining the Diamondbacks Wild Card Push
Tired of Flirting with .500
The next day kicked off an incredible stretch of baseball for Arizona. They knocked off Milwaukee 5-2 in the series finale, sending them to San Francisco for a two-game set with the Giants before seeing the NL West-leading Dodgers at home for a four-game series. The D-Backs did not overlook the Giants and swept the shortened series.
The series against LA could not have gone better… well, almost. An 11-5 thrashing in the series opener followed by two more wins set up a chance for the sweep. Carrying a 3-2 lead into the 9th, lefty Andrew Chafin was brought on to try and take care of Cody Bellinger with one away. Bellinger proceeded to launch a 435 foot bomb into the night, tying the game and sending it to extras. LA would prevail in the 11th, but the Diamondbacks had to be proud of their efforts against the Dodgers. Now, Arizona sits just 2.5 games back of a postseason spot.
Behind the Breakout
The formula for Arizona’s surge is not anything crazy. Playing the Dodgers means you need to score plenty of runs to match their offense, and that’s exactly what the D-Backs did, outscoring LA 25-20 in that series. The bullpen is really what helped carry Arizona through the Dodgers series, allowing just six earned runs.
Guys like Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar continue to be consistent for this Arizona offense. Marte has really emerged as a star this year, sitting in the top 10 in offensive WAR, hits, and adjusted OPS+. Escobar continues to impress after being traded by Minnesota last year, especially with his glove. He has the highest fielding percentage of any third baseman in 2019 so far, helping Arizona to become the 5th best defensive team in baseball.
Pitching wise, Kevin Ginkel has been one of the top relievers in baseball since being called up from Triple-A Reno at the start of August. He is posting a 1.56 ERA in just over 17 innings of work. Chafin, someone they rely on heavily out of the pen, possesses a 2.70 ERA and 1.80 WHIP in his last 14 appearances. Closer Archie Bradley has been up and down but has notched his last three save opportunities. Arizona’s bullpen has been sneaky good at times this season, and could very well help them land a postseason spot.
One guy who does deserve some praise in that D-Back lineup is Wilmer Flores. After a long tenure with the Mets, he is having an impressive resurgence this season with Arizona. On the year he his hitting .313 with an OPS+ of 114. He isn’t topping any offensive or defensive statistical categories, but he has been steady at a high level all season long. He’s hitting .354 since the All-Star Break and has been a huge reason this Arizona offense has been able to generate so many runs.
Following that series against the Dodgers, Arizona would then sweep the Padres at home and take two out of three from the Reds in Cincinnati. The offense has sputtered the last few nights, however, scoring just three runs in the last two losses against the New York Mets. The Mets are certainly a team Arizona will have to battle for the wild card race, with the Diamondbacks holding just a half-game advantage on them in the standings.
D-Backs Down the Stretch
Baseball Reference has the Diamondbacks playoff appearance percentage at just 3.4% with the last five certainly not helping Arizona’s case. As mentioned, they sit 3.5 games back of the Cubs for the second NL wild card spot with three teams to leap over. Of course, missing David Peralta the rest of the way will hurt the club’s offense, but don’t count these Diamondbacks out just yet. As with any team, if the stars continue to produce and the bullpen continues to elevate its play, Arizona could certainly make some postseason noise. With just 15 games left, however, it is critical for them to pick up their play. Twelve of these final games are against teams under .500, so the opportunity is there for this baseball team.
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