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Series #17: Athletics vs Diamondbacks - Snakebitten D’backs Come to Oakland

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Milwaukee Brewers Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Diamondbacks Current Record:

25-24, 2nd place in the National League West. They have lost thirteen of their last fourteen games and have completely squandered a sizeable division lead after being one of the best teams in baseball in April.

Projected Lineup:

LF - David Peralta

RF - Chris Owings

3B - Jake Lamb

1B - Paul Goldschmidt

2B - Danny Descalso

SS - Ketel Marte

DH - John Ryan Murphy

C - Alex Avila

CF - Jarrod Dyson

Probable Starting Pitchers:

Patrick Corbin - LHP

Clay Buchholz - RHP

Zack Greinke - RHP

Recent Bullpen Usage:

The Diamondbacks had a few relievers pitch in relatively long outings during the team’s most recent defeat, but with an off day on Thursday the entire relief corps should be available for Friday’s game in case the starting pitching goes sour early.

Hottest Hitter(s):

The biggest cause for the Diamondbacks’ woes in May has been the offense, which collectively has an OPS of just .551 on the month of May, nearly 100 points lower than the second quietest offense on the month. Catcher John Ryan Murphy has been one of the few bright spots in the lineup over the last few weeks, acting as one of the few power bats for Arizona currently, and Jarrod Dyson has been getting on base more frequently as well, though the outfielder is still just has a .194 average and .599 OPS on the year.

Coldest Hitter(s):

The usually solid Paul Goldschmidt has twice as many strikeouts this week than times reached base (10:5) and the only runs that he has driven in in his crucial spot in the lineup have been via two solo home runs, stranding everyone else on the basepaths. There have been worse hitters in Arizona’s lineup lately, but Goldschmidt’s struggles are the most profoundly felt.

Hottest Pitcher(s):

Arizona’s pitching staff was staggeringly good in April, and was key to the team’s early season success. However, in May the pitching has regressed to merely “above average” and hasn’t been able to withstand the anemic offense. Despite being winless in May, Patrick Corbin has gotten otherwise strong results on the mound, and Zack Greinke has a WHIP of 0.98 in May and has forty four strikeouts to just five walks in thirty six innings pitched. In the bullpen, closer Brad Boxberger has allowed just one run in his last ten appearances but has been woefully underutilized.

Coldest Pitcher(s):

Zack Godley has been battling his control, and after twenty one walks in his last six starts his ERA is closer to six than five in the month of May. Arizona’s bullpen has generally been solid all year, but Fernando Salas has an ERA of nine and Jorge De La Rosa has been struggling mightily to strike anyone out.

Key Injuries:

The pitching staff has been decimated by injuries, but surprisingly hasn’t been the weak link on the team. Shelby Miller, Randall Delgado, and Robbie Ray, all of whom would typically be in any team’s starting five, are all on the disabled list and at different stages of their rehab process. On the offensive side, outfielders AJ Pollock and Stephen Souza Jr both find themselves temporarily out of commission.

* * *

After salvaging the final game of a disappointing three game set versus the Seattle Mariners, the A’s get to breathe easy as the team goes outside the division for another series, as the National League’s Arizona Diamondbacks pay Oakland a visit. The A’s could not be facing Arizona at a better time, and find themselves tantalizingly close to the top three teams in the division with more than a month of baseball against teams with losing records immediately following this series (a six game homestand versus Houston and Anaheim notwithstanding). After performing so well and earning a winning record during the month that had the potential to bury the A’s for good, it is more important than ever for Oakland to capitalize on their upcoming soft schedule and win the games they are supposed to win.

The Diamondbacks are just 5-16 in May and have hit just fifteen total home runs during that span, managing a pitcher-esque .551 OPS as a team. After going 20-8 in April, just one game worse than the MLB-best Red Sox, Arizona had a 5.5 game lead over the second place Giants in the division. Now, the Diamondbacks are half a game behind the Rockies in the division, and the Giants and Dodgers each are nipping at their heels. The Diamondbacks aren’t as bad as they have been this month, though likely aren’t as good as they were in April either, but either way the team can break out of its slump at any moment, so it is important for the A’s to not get complacent in this series.

Game #51: Friday, May 25th at 6:35 - NBCSCA, FSA, MLB.tv

Sean Manaea vs Patrick Corbin

Friday’s matchup is between two lefties who each had superb Aprils followed up by average Mays, neither starter struggling to a degree that would cause concern, but neither starter playing up to what they are capable of. Corbin has struggled with walks recently, and so if the A’s remain patient at the plate, they will be more readily able to put a crooked number or two on the scoreboard.

Game #52: Saturday, May 26th at 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSA, MLB.tv

Daniel Mengden vs Clay Buchholz

After spending the start of the year in the minor leagues, thanks to injuries to the starting staff Buchholz got the call and immediately had success in his return to the bigs, giving up just one run on two hits in five innings in his first start of the year. He is going up against Mengden, who, after spending the last couple years bouncing between the majors and minors, is looking more and more like a rotation mainstay, as he has a 1.46 ERA in May and appears to be getting better with each start.

Game #53: Sunday, May 27th at 1:05 - NBCSCA, FSA, MLB.tv

Trevor Cahill vs Zack Greinke

In the final game of the series, perhaps each team’s current strongest starter will be on the hill. Cahill will be going against the team the A’s traded him to back in the 2011-2012 offseason and spent several years with, while Greinke is returning to the American League where he started his career. Despite strong results from both pitchers, bad luck with long balls has hampered their recent success, and will be working hard to keep the ball in the yard, a tough task for day games in Oakland.