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Washington Nationals Series #11 Preview: Diamondbacks Opposition Research

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Out of the fire and into the Snakepit. Are you ready for that one? To prepare you for this series, here is a primer on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Learn their strengths and weaknesses and take your job as armchair manager to new heights.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Did you hear about the time the Nationals went down to Georgia and cleaned out the Braves with brooms?  It happened, and next they headed west to Arizona, brooms still in hand.  Clearly the Nats mean business these days, what with three straight series wins under their belt.  The Diamondbacks just split a four game series with the Padres.  The Diamondbacks compare well with the Nationals with their bats and their starting pitching of all things.  Their defense is very strong (12 errors to the Nats 26), but their bullpen is much weaker (4.22 ERA).  It should be a fun series, but with the Nationals continually improving before our eyes, do the Snakes have more than a fighting chance?

Monday, 6:40 pm - Max Scherzer vs Josh Collmenter
Collmenter has put together a solid season and his control is a big part of his success.  He has walked only three batters in nearly 40 innings.  No free passes for Bryce Harper?  All that said, Collmenter did give up 5 runs last time out in Colorado in 7 IP.  Scherzer also gave up 5 runs in 7 IP in his last outing, and he has only walked five batters in just over 40 innings.  It's a nice matchup, though hopefully Scherzer bounces back to his normal more superb awesomeness and runs away with the game.

Tuesday, 6:40 pm - Stephen Strasburg vs Rubby De La Rosa
De La Rosa blanked the Padres for 7 innings last time out, but he has not had a strong season overall.  He has shown himself to be a little susceptible to the home run, so maybe the Nats can play to that strength here.  Strasburg is back after leaving his last game early with tightness in his back.  He supposedly is working to fix a mechanical adjustment he made due to an earlier injury, so hopefully the real Strasburg shows up this time.  No guarantees though, so best pray for the bats to come through just in case.

Wednesday, 12:40 pm - Gio Gonzalez vs Jeremy Hellickson
Hellickson has not been unkind to batters facing him this year.   He has averaged four runs in his past three starts.  He is particularly weak vs lefty bats, and the Nats have a few of these.  If the Nats can chase him early, it is good news for them since the bullpen is no better.  Gio has churned out two straight solid starts with two runs in 14 IP, so the Nats look to have a good edge in this matchup.

The Diamondbacks Lineup

This lineup is not entirely stable at the moment, so take the following order with a grain of salt.  For whatever reason, it's hard to pin down some of these Snakes to a single role on the field or position in the batting order.

LF/RF/CF - Ender Inciarte
average bat (lefty)
+ glove
++ flexibility

Inciarte has been batting leadoff when he starts, and he has starts at all outfield positions (13 LF, 5 CF, 5 RF) and has switched positions in the middle of 9 of 23 games.  He is a contact hitter with a league average bat and his glove plays well at all outfield positions.

CF - A.J. Pollock
++ bat
+ glove
+ speed

Pollock has split his time between the leadoff spot (11 starts) and batting 2nd (12 starts) with a little bit of cleanup thrown in for good measure.  He has been strong at the plate this past week and now is batting .306/.361/.432.
1B - Paul Goldschmidt
+++ bat (with power)
- glove
+ speed

Goldschmidt owns this spot in the lineup.  He is batting .345/.444/.646, which is just a bit hotter than Bryce Harper.  This snake can bite.

LF - David Peralta
++ bat (lefty)
average glove
Cleanup hitter Peralta is batting well too.  He is weak to lefties (good news for Gio), but he gets on base and can hit for power.

3B - Yasmany Tomas
average bat
average glove

The Diamondbacks gambled on this Cuban import, and so far he has adjusted the the major leagues fairly well.  Through 14 starts, his bat has been nearly league average with a solid OBP (.356) and pretty average defense as well.  He has yet to hit more than a double though.

2B - Chris Owings
- bat
average glove

Owings has disappointed so far, with a tepid .210/.240/.330.  At the plate, this guy is as dangerous as Jayson Werth these days.  Ouch.
SS - Nick Ahmed
--- bat
+ glove
Ahmed seems to be a plain harmless garden snake.  He is batting .133/.226/.147.  He is likely going to lose his job as soon as the Dbacks find someone who can replace him on a regular basis.
C - Tuffy Gosewisch
-- bat
+ glove
+++ cool name
Primary catcher Gosewisch has been tepid at the plate, but backup Jordan Pacheco has been unable to steal away much playing time as of yet in part because Gosewisch is a much better defender.  He also has a much more awesome name.


RF - Mark Trumbo:  Trumbo gets plenty of starts, batting 2nd or 4th.  He has hit lefties well this year, and has plenty of power overall.  His defense is weak, however.

3B/2B - Aaron Hill:  Hill has gotten worked into the lineup plenty too.  League average bat and less than solid glove.


The Diamondbacks Bullpen

The Diamondbacks bullpen has allowed an unhealthy 1.43 baserunners per inning, and their ERA stinks as well.  This is a bullpen worth chasing starters for.

There are two solid pitchers in here, both righties.  They are Brad Ziegler and Randall Delgado (both are overperforming compared to their career numbers, particularly Delgado).  In tier II are Addison Reed and rookie J.C. Ramirez.  In Tier III are rookie Enrique Burgos, Daniel Hudson (who made a short but successful spot start Sunday), and Evan Marshall (who was a stalwart in the pen last year).

There are two lefties in the pen.  The solid one is converted starter and current long man Andrew Chafin.  The weak one is Oliver Perez, whose 6.00 ERA proves that he is one of the most overrated pitchers in Major League Baseball today.  (Okay, maybe he's had some bad luck, with a strong 10 strikeouts not enough to balance out 2 HR in 9 innings.)

Can They Be Swept?

Most definitely.  The Diamondbacks record is very similar to that of the Braves currently, and the Nationals just finished sweeping the Braves.  Clearly, it would be a shame if the Nats don't  win every game.  One does not win 147 games by losing games.  Even without Werth and the Mongoose, the Nats have what it takes to take out a few snakes if their pitching holds up.

A smart man once said "Expect problems and eat them for breakfast."  The reality that winning three games in a row is difficult is no reason to not win three games in a row.  It is, like it always is, time to go out and do the hard thing and keep winning.  If games were easy to win, we would not celebrate them so hard.

Never give up!  Never surrender!

What do you get when you cross a snake and a kangaroo?

A jump rope, of course!

Snakes and Kangaroos remain completely unfunny, though.