PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 21: Jason Kubel #13 of the Arizona Diamondbacks waves to the crowd after hitting his third home run of the game against the Houston Astros at Chase Field on July 21, 2012 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
After stumbling to a 2-5 road trip out of the All-Star break (including a sweep at the hands of the lowly Cubs), the Diamondbacks rebounded nicely over the weekend by bludgeoning the Astros in a sweep at Chase Field. Jason Kubel had about as good of a weekend as can be expected, as he homered four times and drove in a small village while leading his team to 33 runs scored in three games.
Kubel has been Arizona's best offensive performer throughout the entire season, posting a 147 OPS+ while mashing 21 homers. Paul Goldschmidt (133 OPS+) hasn't been far behind, as even though his home run rate has dipped a bit, he's still slugging .534 thanks to 29 doubles. Aaron Hill (127 OPS+, 13 HR) has enjoyed a fine season as well, as his two cycles this season would suggest. Those guys, in particular, have pretty much done enough to offset relatively poor efforts from Miguel Montero, Justin Upton, and Chris Young - each of whom performed at a much higher level a season ago.
The main reason the D-Backs find themselves a game below .500 is the regression of their two best hurlers from a year ago, Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson. Kennedy has remained healthy and has taken the ball every time out, but he has been hit a bit harder this year, resulting in a 4.33 ERA/98 ERA+. He does still, however, possess very good command and the ability to strike batters out in bunches. The peripherals are good, but the batted ball luck has simply worsened from a year ago. Hudson, meanwhile, started only nine games before his season ended with Tommy John surgery. He went from a 3.49 ERA/116 ERA+ a year ago to a 7.35 ERA/58 ERA+ this season. His batted ball numbers inflated as well, but obviously health (or lack thereof) was a big reason why. Because of that regression/loss, the D-Backs, in theory, should have been in a really tough spot rotation-wise. Luckily for them, a rookie stud came to their rescue, but it's not one of the guys you would have thought of before the season started (Trevor Bauer/Tyler Skaggs/etc.). Rather, it's this guy:
#36 / Pitcher / Arizona Diamondbacks
Nov 13, 1986
|2012 - Wade Miley||11-5||3.02||1.09||85||23|
Miley has partied in the USA in 2012 to the tune of the numbers shown above, while posting an ERA+ of 141. He's only about average (or maybe slightly above) at striking batters out, but he is the best on the team at limiting walks (just 1.8 per nine innings), all the while allowing less than a hit per inning. Miley was the D-Backs' lone representative in the All-Star game, and is currently in the running for NL Rookie of the Year, along with some bro named Harper playing in DC. Fortunately for Colorado, they will not see him in this series.
A big reason for Arizona's resurgence in the division last year was their vastly-improved bullpen, and while they haven't quite been as untouchable this year, they're still very effective. Brad Ziegler (163 ERA+) and David Hernandez (160 ERA+) have been the best of the bunch, with Hernandez's 13.2 K/9 particularly eye-popping. J.J. Putz is the closer, and he has overcome a relatively shaky start to the season to become decent in his role. His ERA+ is just 105, but his 4.34 K/BB ratio is the best on the team.
Another fact about the D-Backs is that 21 out of the 25 players on their roster are burly white guys with a red beard.
The Rockies are 42-82 all-time at Chase Field. This series doesn't look to play out much differently, but that's why they play the games.
For more on the D-Backs, head over to AZ Snake Pit.
Pitching matchups, and more, after the jump.
Game 1 - tonight at 6:40 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Jonathan Sanchez (1-6, 7.76 ERA) vs. Ian Kennedy (7-8, 4.33 ERA)
Game 2 - tomorrow at 6:40 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
TBA vs. Joe Saunders (4-6, 3.58)
Game 3 - Wednesday at 6:40 PM MT (ROOT Sports)
Jeff Francis (2-2, 5.24) vs. Trevor Cahill (8-8, 3.77)