Series Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks Look for Liftoff in Houston

Arizona Diamondbacks at Houston Astros

Friday: Wade Miley (12-8) vs. Dallas Keuchel (1-4)

Saturday: Patrick Corbin (4-4) vs. Jordan Lyles (2-9)

Sunday: Ian Kennedy (10-10) vs. Armando Galarraga (0-3)

The Skinny:

This series is going to be a significant one if the Arizona Diamondbacks are still at all a contender for the NL West. They are currently sitting at .500 with a 59-59 mark, and are coming off of two straight series losses to fellow playoff possibles St. Louis and Washington. They are sitting 5 and a half games out with only 44 games left to play, and even though there are still plenty of opportunities remaining for them to make up ground on the Giants and the Dodgers in the race, they still need a lot of things to break their way if they are going to make up that ground in the standings.

As for Houston, the Astros are in the midst of a significant rebuilding project that is preceding their move into the American League West next season. They are sitting seven and a half games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the distinction of the worst record in baseball, and so they are simply playing out the string as they slog through their final NL Central campaign.

For the Diamondbacks, there really is only one recipe that is going to get them the success that they need in order to make the playoffs, and that is to get better pitching than they have been in recent weeks. Losing guys like Daniel Hudson has not helped, and the continued ineffectiveness of Ian Kennedy has plagued the team in a big way.

They are scoring plenty of runs, trailing only the Rockies in that category in the NL West, but they are simply allowing too many runs to score as well, sitting behind both the Giants and Dodgers in that crucial category. When you add in their below-.500 record on the road (the Dodgers are three games above in away games, while the Giants are one game above sea level), you can see why this team is going to have a difficult time making the playoffs, unless things drastically change.

At any rate, besides the pitching, the Diamondbacks are going to need Jason Kubel to heat back up. He seems to be slowly coming around from his post All-Star Game slump, but he hasn’t shown much power lately (aside from the two home runs he hit on August 9th against Pittsburgh) and he hasn’t driven in any runs in his past six games. Add in the six strikeouts he has had in that time frame, and you can see why the team’s offense has been on a roller coaster of ineffectiveness that has prevented them from making up any ground in the divisional race.

We’ll have more on what exactly it will take for the Diamondbacks to make the playoffs tomorrow morning here on Rant Sports, but for right now, assume that the team is going to have to sweep this series against Houston if they are going to want to have any realistic hope for a second straight divisional crown.

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