2014 Head to Head Record: (0-0)
2013 Head to Head Record: (4-2)
Monday, May 12 9:40 p.m.
Tuesday, May 13 9:40 p.m.
Wednesday, May 14 3:40 p.m.
Let’s all hope that Matt Williams homecoming goes a lot better than Gio Gonzalez and Jerry Blevins’ did. The Nationals leave the nightmare that was a series in Oakland in which they scored a grand total of four runs over two if the 29 innings played, lost Adam LaRoche to the DL, got walked off, blown out twice and featured a mound meltdown from Smiley himself.
So if you had to play a road series right now, it’d be hard to find a better one to play than the struggling Arizona Diamondbacks who are just 3-15 at home, and 15-25 overall. The Diamondbacks have given up and astounding 214 runs, averaging well over 5 given up a game. They are -63 in run differential. Compare that to the Nats who needed a completely crap the bed kind of weekend to get to -3 run differential. You may think that watching the Nats is awful, but being a Diamondbacks fan this year might be a completely special kind of WTF.
So what’s wrong with a team that went back to back years 81-81? Starting pitching for one. The team’s starters have posted a 5.47 ERA which is backed up by the 4.43 FIP. Compare to the Nats, who have had their share of first and second innings woes, who post a 3.83 ERA and 3.44 FIP for starters. The Nats have struggled, the Diamondbacks are bad. The bullpen is a big step up for the Diamondbacks (3.71 ERA and 3.24 FIP) which speaks to some fielding issues (The Diamondbacks at -14.9 DEF rank just above the Nats -15.3).
The Diamondbacks also don’t hit the ball that well. A team wOBA of .306 isn’t all that impressive.
How the Nats Win: Unlike a team like the Mets where the Nats need to just keep pace with the starter to get to the bullpen, the Nats need to beat the tar out of the starters. The Nats need to get leads, get them early, and that’s that. The Diamondbacks aren’t built to make comebacks (and the Nats, with injuries bound, aren’t much better at it right now), but they are the type of team that could bite you (pun intended) if you let them stay in the game. The bullpen is good enough to keep things close, and with home field advantage the Nats could get walked off if the game is close. Better to just beat up on the weakest part of the team while they can. There is nothing special about Arizona starters Collmenter, McCarthy or Arroyo this year. Don’t treat them as such.
The Diamondbacks might not be as bad as advertised anyway. The team is 7-3 in their last ten games, which means they may be putting stuff back together. Let’s not find out.
Three Diamondbacks to Watch: Paul Goldshmidt is the only Diamondback to play in every game, and that is because he is awesome. batting .321 average and 7 HRs, he’ll be holding down the Diamondbacks first base for many, many years to come. Catcher, Miguel Montero can also hit the ball. He had a very down year last year offensively, but seems to have righted the ship so far this year. Young shortstop Chris Owings is still coming into his own in the position, having played less than 60 pro games in his two years so far. Still, he is one of the few decent defenders on the Diamondbacks and hits for a pretty good average (+.290’s AVG and .330ish wOBA). Owings might blossom into a key piece for a Diamondbacks team looking to rebuild around some young stars in the next few years.