One of the best aspects that comes with the final week of the MLB season is the chaos that ensues, and the NL Wild Card race is arguably the most chaotic race of them all. The Diamondbacks are one of the teams in the midst of that race, and with six games left in the season, they will try to keep hold of their second wild card spot. The first three games they have to play come against the White Sox, and we’ll preview the game before going over our play for the first five innings.
For the rest of the season, the teams that hold a wild card spot should live by one simple motto: “A win a day keeps the stress away,” and unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, they did not win yesterday. By falling 6-4 to the Yankees on Monday, Arizona enters tonight off a series loss. One of the biggest things that has hurt the Diamondbacks this year is their bullpen, and that was the case yesterday, as they allowed four runs in the final three innings.
The good news is Arizona doesn’t have time to dwell on the past, and with an important stretch ahead of them, they will hand the ball to right-hander Zach Davies to start the series on the mound. The right-hander last pitched on September 16th, and in that outing, he allowed three earned runs in four innings, giving him three straight starts with at least three runs allowed. That stretch has caused Davies’ ERA to rise to 6.81 in 79.3 innings.
Davies’ opponent tonight, the Chicago White Sox, are coming off a series win over the Red Sox. In a battle between two teams already eliminated from the postseason, Chicago took two out of the three games despite scoring only six total runs in the series. In their 3-2 win on Sunday, the White Sox picked up just four hits, but thanks to some weather, the game was called after six innings.
Getting the ball for Chicago tonight will be right-hander Jose Urena, who, in his three starts with the team, is pitching to a 4.41 ERA in 16.3 innings. Urena is coming off a strong six-inning no-decision, in which he allowed just one earned run on four hits against the Nationals.
The Diamondbacks F5 run-line of (-.5) is currently priced at (+100), and I’ll be backing them for my play. Arizona has the motivation factor for this game, and by taking the F5, I can avoid their bullpen having a late collapse. With neither starter boasting strong numbers, I’ll take the team that is in a must-win situation to come out swinging early.
Across 34.2 innings this season, White Sox starter Jose Urena has a .271 expected batting average, 6.17 xERA, and a 44.1% hard hit percentage. There is no denying the Diamondbacks lineup has struggled over the past month, as they are hitting .231 and rank 25th against right-handed pitching, but Urena is the exact starter they could use to propel them through this final week.
While Arizona has struggled against righties recently, the White Sox have been even worse, as they rank 28th in wRC+ and 27th in OPS over the last 30 days. Chicago also has the 4th highest ground ball percentage in that split, which is an ideal matchup for Zach Davies since he is in the 63rd percentile in ground ball percentage. While Davies may not be the ideal starter to back, if he can continue to keep the ball on the ground, his offense should be able to give him some run support.
Arizona Diamondbacks F5 (-.5)(+100)