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Arizona Diamondbacks Are Not Ready for a Playoff Push

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Aug 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale (3) relieves starting pitcher Robbie Ray (38) during the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps we should have known better. We should have realized that when the Arizona Diamondbacks swept a four game series from the Cincinnati Reds and moved to five games off the National League West lead that it was an illusion. I wanted to believe a division chase was possible, heck I even posted on my Facebook page to my New York friends that maybe we would see a Mets-D-backs NLDS. But the reality is those four wins in Cincinnati came at the expense of a team in the midst of a nine game losing streak. What the last two nights have proven is that Arizona is not quite ready to make a push for the playoffs.

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Playing against the best team with the best record in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals is a good measuring stick for an up-and-coming team such as the Snakes. Unfortunately, they haven’t met the challenge. On Monday night, they were given every opportunity to win that game but could not take advantage of some shoddy defensive play by St. Louis nor cash in on Lance Lynn. Arizona put 19 runners on base yet scored only three runs. On Tuesday, another woeful Robbie Ray outing ended the game early as the Cards were victorious by a score of 9-1. Even if the D-backs win the next two games, do you have any confidence that this team is going to make a sustained run? After 125 games, it is still a struggle to remain at or above .500.

The truth is, the D-backs do not have the starting pitching to make a run. Ray’s performance last night was just another in a series of less-than-stellar outings since the All-Star Break. We are not entirely sure what to make of Chase Anderson. Is he really over his arm fatigue and can he be consistent?  Patrick Corbin is coming off Tommy John surgery and can’t be counted on to shut down lineups consistently. Rubby De La Rosa is the rotation’s best pitcher right now but he is not the “ace” that matches up with  Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Madison Bumgarner. There are pockets of positivity with the starters but in the end do you look at them as a unit and say, “This is a playoff-caliber rotation”? I think we know what the answer is.

Even though the tone of this post is negative, there is still a lot to like about this team, particularly its future. When all of your starting position players are under the age of 30 (except when Aaron Hill and/or Jarrod Saltalamacchia plays) and you lead National League in runs scored, you are a threat. Despite the questions about the pitching, each man has the potential on any given day to hurl a gem. Help will arrive when the rosters expand next week. At 62-63, this has been a fun season and should continue that way to the end. The D-backs have given us more than we could have hoped. It even could finish with a record over .500. Just don’t expect bonus baseball in October.

 

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