Opposite dugout: Bullpen has Diamondbacks in playoff contention

Manager: Torey Lovullo (1st season)

DiamondbacksLogo.jpgRecord: 55-40

Last 10 games: 3-7

Who to watch: 3B Jake Lamb (22 HR, 76 RBIs), 1B Paul Goldschmidt (.311/.427/.569), RF David Peralta (.320 average), LHP Robbie Ray (2.97 ERA, 1.21 WHIP), RHP Fernando Rodney (22 saves)

Pitching probables:

July 21: RHP Max Scherzer vs. TBA, 9:40 p.m., MASN2
July 22: RHP Tanner Roark vs. RHP Zack Godley, 8:10 p.m., MASN2
July 23: RHP Stephen Strasburg vs. LHP Robbie Ray, 4:10 p.m., MASN2

Inside the Diamondbacks:

In 2016, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to go all in. They broke the bank on signing Zack Greinke in free agency and traded their top prospect, Dansby Swanson as well with Ender Inciarte to acquire Shelby Miller from the Braves. Arizona believed that bolstering their rotation would help a team that already had strong hitters like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock reach the playoffs. That did not happen in 2016. However, it appears that 2017 will be the year Arizona makes its first playoff appearance since 2011.

The Diamondbacks' offense is unsurprisingly led by Goldschmidt. The first baseman has been the Diamondbacks' best hitter every year since 2013 and that trend continues this season. Goldschmidt leads Arizona in both on-base percentage (.427) and slugging (.569). Out of all first basemen in baseball, he ranks first in on-base percentage and second in batting average (.315), so there is not much of a question he is one of the elite players at his position. Across the infield from Goldschmidt is someone in the midst of a breakout year: Jake Lamb. In his fourth season in the big leagues, Lamb's .274/.368/.547 slashline are career highs in all three stats. In the outfield, David Peralta has bounced back from an underwhelming 2016 and is currently enjoying a career high in batting average with a strong .320 mark. The Diamondbacks, who rank seventh in the National League in slugging percentage, also recently added J.D. Martinez to give their lineup more pop for the playoff push. Martinez has been one of baseball's most consistent sluggers the past few years, slugging over .530 every year since 2014. Martinez's 2017 is currently the best power-hitting season he's had, given that his .624 slugging percentage is a career high. It's worth noting Martinez suffered a left hand bruise in his Diamondbacks debut on Wednesday and it is currently unknown if he will be healthy for the series against the Nationals.

The Diamondbacks do not currently have a starter listed for the series opener on Friday. For Saturday, Zack Godley will pitch. He is coming off a rough outing against the Braves where he allowed six earned runs and a pair of home runs. Prior to his game in Atlanta, he had an ERA of 2.81 in his five starts in June and July. To close out the series on Sunday, former Nationals farmhand Robbie Ray will be on the mound for Arizona. Ray is tied with Greinke for the team lead in ERA (2.97) and his 11.7 strikeouts per nine innings is the best out of all Arizona starters. Ray has improved both his ERA and WHIP from last season and at age 25 it would seem he is enjoying his breakout season.

The Diamondbacks' bullpen is much improved from 2016. Their WHIP ranked 12th in the NL last year but it now sits third this season. Despite an alarmingly high 5.58 ERA, Fernando Rodney and his crooked hat are 22-for-27 on save opportunities for Arizona this season. The Diamondbacks have found success converting former starter Archie Bradley into their top setup man. Bradley's ERA (1.45) and WHIP (0.946) have both made huge improvements after his move to the bullpen.

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