Series Preview: Ian Kennedy, D’Backs Welcome Rockies to Phoenix
Colorado Rockies vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Jonathan Sanchez (1-6) vs. Ian Kennedy (6-7)
n/a vs. Joe Saunders (4-6)
Jeff Francis (2-2) vs. Trevor Cahill (8-8)
Series in a Nutshell:
The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming into this series fresh off a sweep of the lowly Houston Astros. Their offense had been stellar the entire series, plating 33 runs in a near-record setting performance. Jason Kubel also excelled, slugging four home runs and driving in eight runs during the three game set at Chase Field.
Their next series will be a tad tougher, but not much, as the Rockies come to town owning the worst record in the NL West at a surprising 22 games under .500. They have lost six of their nine games since the All-Star break, and they are so hard up for pitching help that they brought in Jonathan Sanchez from the scrap heap, where he was residing after posting the worst ERA of any Kansas City Royals pitcher in team history.
There will be several keys to success for the Diamondbacks in this series. The first of those is how Justin Upton will fare as he continues to likely bat in the fifth spot in the order. He thrived there on Friday, slugging a home run and driving in three runs, and he also did well on Saturday, walking twice as he was unable to really get any opportunities to drive in anyone because of Kubel’s three home run outburst.
Chris Young is also showing more signs of coming out of his slump, going 3-for-8 (he sat out Friday’s game), and picking up a home run, four RBI, and two stolen bases. His hitting stroke rounding back into form is going to be essential if the Diamondbacks are serious about making any noise in a playoff run, as they are currently sitting six games out of the NL West division lead behind the San Francisco Giants.
One thing they will also have to cut down on are bone-headed mistakes. They had another one on Sunday, as Gerardo Parra was picked off first base in the throes of the Diamondbacks’ win over Houston. It isn’t the first time this season that a Diamondbacks player has been picked off base, and while they were fortunate to escape this time without any damage, it won’t do them any favors to give away outs as their opponents become more difficult down the stretch.
Key Player: Ian Kennedy
Mr. Kennedy has had a subpar year after winning 21 games last season. His struggles have been well documented, but he is one of the guys that the team is going to need to step up if they are going to be a playoff club. With Daniel Hudson lost for the year, Josh Collmenter having a tenuous hold on a rotation spot, and Joe Saunders a likely trade candidate, Kennedy is going to have to dig deep and get the D’Backs off to a strong start in this series.
You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JamesNeveau, and if you have any questions, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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