July 19, 2013 - With 67 games remaining in the 2013 regular season, the Arizona Diamondbacks are in a good place: First in the National League West at 50-45.
Not bad, considering the fact that we've been talking about how bad the pitching staff has been so far this year.
The one part of the team we thought would be a strength, hasn't been so far, but in reality it hasn't mattered all that much. Ninety-five games into the season and the D-backs are still in first place.
Tonight, the Diamondbacks get back to action, starting a three game series against the fourth place team in the division, the San Francisco Giants.
The Giants are starting the final run of the regular season six-and-a-half games behind, but San Francisco has been solid when taking on NL West opponents. The Giants are 27-20 against division foes, leaving them in a good position to throw out the first pitch of the second half (so to speak) of the season.
The Diamondbacks on the other hand, haven't played as well against division opponents, now one game under .500 at 21-22. With 33 games left against division opponents, the D-backs clearly need to pick up the success rate against familiar opponents.
The good news is that Pat Corbin is pitching very well and Paul Goldschmidt is handling the pressure of being the "face" of the franchise very well.
With 50 wins, the D-backs are on pace to win 85, but 85 wins may not get them a division title. In fact, in the past decade, only four teams have reached the playoffs with 85 or fewer wins. A statistic the D-backs are familiar with.
With the non-waiver trade deadline rapidly approaching, the Diamondbacks may decide to pull the trigger and find some help, either in the starting rotation or out of the bullpen. Time is running out, and this year the D-backs should be buyers (not sellers) at the trade deadline.
According to Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers, the asking price for a starting pitcher this time of year may just be too high for Arizona to go after one. (at least for this year)
The other good news for the D-backs: the team's next three opponents have losing records so far this season. The Giants (43-51), the Cubs (42-51) and the Padres (42-54). That may be enough for the Diamondbacks to move the meter and climb out to an even bigger lead in the division. If not, Arizona has a big series coming up in early August against the team with the most wins in baseball, the Boston Red Sox (58-39).
Ian Kennedy (3-6, 5.42 ERA 4 worst in MLB) has shaved his beard and will start tonight's game in San Francisco, so anything could happen, especially with Kennedy going against right hander, Chad Gaudin ( 3-1, 2.39 ERA).
Let's wait and see what happens in San Francisco this weekend before making any judgments on how the rest of the season will go. If everything falls into place, the D-backs will be back in the playoffs and we'll all be wearing Sedona Red!