Diamondbacks ride momentum of Atlanta sweep to Chicago
The Arizona Diamondbacks wrap up the week in Chicago against the Cubs and will look to ride the momentum of four straight wins and a series sweep in Atlanta to more success.
Arizona’s three probable starters each sit in a fascinating spot to respond to their latest outings.
Friday’s nod is to right-hander Merrill Kelly, who gave up a season-high eight hits and four earned runs in his last outing, a loss against the San Diego Padres.
The former Arizona State standout did well early to quell any worry over his spring through two starts with a 2.57 ERA, but he can’t afford to have many more outings like his last one if he wants to hold a rotation spot when Taijuan Walker returns from Tommy John Surgery.
Zack Greinke is set to get the ball Saturday.
He’s coming off a season-high seven innings pitched in a home win over the Padres last Sunday. Greinke allowed two earned runs on four hits and one walk. The long ball was once again an issue, with two solo home runs being responsible for those runs. Greinke has a 5.79 ERA and has allowed eight home runs in 23.1 innings pitched.
Left-hander Robbie Ray has some work to do in proving to fans that his 2017 season was not an aberration and will look to make some progress as the probable starter for Monday.
He’s up to eight earned runs on his record through 16.1 innings and has not pitched into the seventh inning in four outings. Ray’s latest was his worst, giving up 12 total base runners and five earned runs to the Braves on Tuesday. After a 2.89 ERA in 2017, Ray’s ERA spiked a full run to 3.93 last season.
On the other end of the matchup, the Cubs are coming in with even more mojo than the D-backs. They dominated the Miami Marlins on the road to the tune of three wins and a 17-2 run advantage, including two straight shutouts to end the sweep.
The Cubs are waiting on Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo to get going.
The 2016 National League MVP Bryant is batting only .219 through 16 games this year and Rizzo is even worse at .159. But luckily for Chicago, the likes of Jason Heyward (.353 batting average), Javier Baez (.324) and Wilson Contreras (.319) have been there to pick up the slack.
Also keep an eye on former D-back Daniel Descalso, who is hitting a team-high .364 in 44 at-bats.
The series kicks off on Friday at 11:20 a.m. and you can tune to the action on ESPN 620 AM.