Let me guess: The Diamondbacks missed an opportunity to sweep through some last-place teams and get way up on the Dodgers and Rockies in the National League West divisional race. Archie Bradley all of the sudden can’t get anybody out. And the bats keep falling asleep!
It’s the latest version of Arizona angst that we slow-and-steady types have been pushing back against all season. Seems like every time we discuss these guys, somebody’s freaking out about something.
Remember back when the Diamondbacks won nine series in a row to open the season? The hand-wringers and teeth-gnashers were saying, “Yeah, but how come we aren’t getting sweeps?”
Bet they’d love to go on a 21-8 tear right now, wouldn’t they?
There was the “Mystery of the Cold May,” starring Paul Goldschmidt.
The slump was so bad that by mid-July Goldschmidt was an All-Star, and the Diamondbacks were a half-game out at the break.
We had the “Infamous Father’s Day Collapse,” when closer Brad Boxberger gave up a lead in the ninth inning in front of a packed house.
The players were so distraught that they went out and won eight of their next 10. “Ice” Boxberger, meanwhile, allowed just one earned run in his next 12 appearances.
And who could forget the 19-2 loss to the Rockies?
That was so bad it should have counted for two losses – but it didn’t.
And that’s the whole point. Games against bottom feeders don’t count for any more or any less in the standings.
Robbie Ray said it after the loss to the Reds on Saturday.
“You’ve got to take advantage of every part of the schedule,” he said. “I don’t think this part carries … any more weight.”
The games that matter are the games that are coming up.
Seven against the Dodgers. Four in Los Angeles and three at Chase Field, including the second-to-last series of the year.
Seven against the Rockies. Four in Colorado.
And three more against the Giants. All in San Francisco.
Given how tight those teams are bundled at the top of the NL West, those are the games that count for more, and the Diamondbacks should be looking forward to them the way a hiker looks forward to a glass of ice water.
Arizona is 22-18 against that trio, including 8-4 against the Dodgers and 7-5 against the Rockies.
Aside from the ability to get up for big games, the Diamondbacks have some other advantages heading into the stretch run against their division rivals, starting with arms who weren’t available to manager Torey Lovullo on Opening Day.
Neither L.A. nor Colorado has seen Clay Buchholz in a Diamondbacks uniform. He’s 1-1 against the Giants with four earned runs allowed over 12 innings this season.
L.A. hasn’t seen Brad Ziegler either as a member of the Diamondbacks this season, or since his back started feeling better in June.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, have faced Jake Diekman. That was in June when he was with the Rangers. He struck out Joc Pederson, Kike Hernandez and Cody Bellinger on 13 pitches in the eighth inning to preserve a one-run lead for the Rangers.
Colorado hasn’t faced him this year.
This should make life easier for Bradley, who’s struggled without a reliable breaking ball. Hitters are sitting on his fastball, but he throws hard enough that a lot of guys won’t be able to catch up to him, even if they know what’s coming.
With Ziegler and Diekman, Lovullo has other options than to deploy Bradley against the heart of an opponent’s order.
That’s enough to keep guys wondering, and guessing hitters are bad hitters. It also could put Bradley in position to work on his secondary stuff and regain some confidence.
As for the hitters going cold, they’ve got a chance to get right in San Diego. They’re 7-3 against the Padres, including 3-0 at Petco Park.
But unlike last season, Goldschmidt has been getting stronger as the season has gone on. In 11 games this month, he’s hitting .431 with a 1.068 OPS. And he’s .390 with a 1.127 OPS against San Diego this year.
So, be anxious, if you’re so inclined. Pace. Yell at the TV. Rip up your scorecard.
Or be easy. Relax. Cheer. Sip a root beer.
The Diamondbacks over the past two seasons have proved that they know how to win. They’re not gonna win ’em all. They don’t have to win ’em all. They only have to win more than the other guys. And they’ve been doing that.
The prediction here is that they find a way to finish on top, regardless of whatever so-called crisis emerges next.