The Arizona Diamondbacks have been one of the biggest surprise teams in the MLB.
A first half that is one of the best in team history, right-hander Taijuan Walker of the Arizona Diamondbacks takes to the mound Friday night in Atlanta. Walker seeks to jump-start the second half o the season and end the team;s recent losing ways.
Coming into play Friday night in Atlanta, the Diamondbacks ave lost three of their last four series and five of the previous six games before the All-Star break.
In the only series win among those last four, the Diamondbacks won two of three against the Colorado Rockies, and that may have been a turning point. For a team which has not given up pursuit of the NL West crown, Arizona looked stellar. However in subsequent series before the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks were swept by the Dodgers in Los Angeles and dropped two of three to the Cincinnati Reds at home.
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Coming out of the break, this Diamondbacks have to shake off the cobwebs and trade their PJ’s for a uniform. Over the past two years, the Diamondbacks are an awful 3-9 in their first six games post All-Star break. Both of those teams did not make the playoffs.
Looking to stop the bleeding, Walker hopes to apply the tourniquet. Walker has been one of the bigger surprises this year, and has pitched consistent baseball. With a 6-4 record and an ERA of 3.65, Walker will make his first career start against the Atlanta Braves, and this will mark the first time the Diamondbacks play in the new Sun Trust Park.
Walker can attribute some of his success to his change in how he approaches hitters. He is using more of the vertical plane of the strike zone. In previous seasons, Walker tried to use a horizontal plane, which wasn’t successful. You can find this heat map here.
Walker may be the secret to a successful second half. Walker possesses a 17-13 record with a 3.84 ERA in terms of his away game splits. His second half production equates to being 10-7 with a 4.08 ERA. With Walker being the first starter of the second half the Diamondbacks may have something special.