In recent years, if you’ve wanted to compete with the Dodgers to win the division, teams have needed to play at a high level during both halves of the season. Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the start to their second half has been an absolute disaster, making the battle for the NL West more challenging. As the team looks to snap a five-game win streak and even the series with St. Louis, we’ll preview the game before going over my play for the first five innings.
After losing three out of four games to the team ahead of them in the NL Central, the Cardinals got their series with the Diamondbacks started on the right note by winning 10-6 last night. St. Louis entered the top of the ninth inning losing 6-5, but after an RBI single by Paul Goldschmidt to tie the game, the floodgates opened. The Cardinals went on to score five runs in the inning, capped off by a Tyler O’Neill two-RBI double.
As they look to build a winning streak, the Cardinals will have lefty Steven Matz on the mound for his 14th start. The lefty was moved to the bullpen at one point in the first half, but since July 9th, he’s been thrust back into a starter role. In total, across 81 innings, Matz has pitched to a 4.67 ERA, but he is coming off one of his better starts this year, going five innings with six punchouts and one earned run allowed.
Matz now faces a Diamondbacks team that has won just two games since the All-Star break and, after last night, has lost five straight. Arizona was able to get a big night at the plate from Christian Walker, who went 2-4 with a home run, and Emmanuel Rivera, who went 3-4. Ultimately, their pitching would once again prove to be the problem.
The pitching staff has allowed five or more runs in eight of the Diamondbacks' ten games since the break. The good news, however, is Arizona will be getting one of their best starters back today in Merrill Kelly, who will be making his first start since June 24th. Across 16 starts this season, the right-hander has pitched to a 3.22 ERA with 98 strikeouts and 37 walks.
The total for the first five innings of this game is currently set at 4.5, and I’ll be taking the over for my play. Over the last ten games, no team has been more profitable to the F5 over than the St. Louis Cardinals, and with both offenses getting a matchup they have performed well in as of late, I think that trend continues.
Over the last 30 days, the Arizona Diamondbacks rank 9th in wRC+ and wOBA and 8th in OPS against left-handed pitching at home. While the team is struggling, last night was an excellent example of how dangerous the offense can still be, and now they match up with a lefty starter who has a 5.49 road ERA and a 5.06 ERA or higher in three of the first five innings.
On the other side, since the start of the second half, the Cardinals' offense has continually shown why people were surprised at their terrible first half. When facing right-handed pitching on the road over the last 30 days, St. Louis ranks 6th in OPS, wRC+, and wOBA. It has been a month since Merrill Kelly has faced off with a big-league lineup, and when pitching at home this season, the righty has put up a 4.26 FIP.
F5 Over 4.5