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Back end of D-backs’ rotation kicks off second half of season in Atlanta

(AP Photos)

The Arizona Diamondbacks come out of the All-Star break 17 games above .500 and two games ahead of the Colorado Rockies for the top spot in the National League Wild Card race.

Strong contributions to their success have come from everywhere, whether that’s the heart of the order, top of the rotation or the middle of the bullpen.

One area of the roster, however, that has taken shape in recent weeks is the back of the rotation, and they will kick off the second half of the season.

Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley are scheduled to make the first three starts after the break against the Atlanta Braves starting Friday night at SunTrust Park.

All three have had different levels of success to this point of the season.

For Walker, it’s been his consistency in avoiding big-time damage.

He has yet to have a truly awful outing, going at least five innings in all but one start and giving up more than three earned runs in just three of his 14 starts.

Only two of his four losses have been more than a one-run game, with his latest outing on July 8 against the Cincinnati Reds being his worst. Walker gave up five earned runs on five hits, three walks and two home runs in a 7-0 loss.

In his first three months of the season, Walker’s ERA’s have been 3.94, 2.82 and 3.63. He missed nearly a month after a May 19 start because of a blister on his right index finger.

The run numbers are good, but Walker still allows hitters to put the ball in play. He’s given up three hits or less in one start this season. For reference, Zack Greinke’s done that three times, Robbie Ray’s completed it six times, Corbin once and Godley four times.

While he may get into jams and allow opposing hitters to get on, though, if he can stay clear of going nuclear in outings, it’s nothing more the team can ask for out of their man in the middle of the rotation.

Corbin was battling possible demotion for the second straight season before steadying his ship. He has not given up more than three earned runs in a start since June 2 and has pitched at least six innings in four of his six starts since then.

It’s been a great rebound for the 27-year-old since a disastrous May when Corbin had a 9.00 ERA and gave up at least eight hits in four of his five starts for the month.

The second half for Corbin will be all about limiting opposing teams from getting on base. Despite the run totals coming down as of late, in those last six starts, opponents had nine baserunners or more in four of them.

While Godley’s been pitching the best of the three, he’s been the one without a solidified rotation spot.

After bouncing around between demotions and promotions for spot starts, a move for Randall Delgado back to the bullpen in mid-June appeared to give Godley a concrete role as the fifth starter.

In 69.2 innings pitched and 11 starts, Godley has a 2.58 ERA and his 0.95 WHIP is only bested by Archie Bradley on the Arizona staff. In nearly half of his outings, Godley has surrendered one earned run or less five times.

Godley’s been the best of the group but in the second half, it will be about himself proving it over the course of a full season and giving himself full momentum toward what he lacked this season, a true place in the D-backs rotation from the jump.

THE BRAVES

The 42-45 Braves currently sit second in the National League East, which isn’t saying much. Four of the five teams in the division are below .500, with the Washington Nationals cruising at 52-36 in first place.

Former D-back Ender Inciarte made the All-Star team for the Braves, hitting .302 with seven home runs and 36 RBI. His numbers don’t come close to Freddie Freeman’s, though, who has managed 16 home runs and 33 RBI in just 43 games despite missing over a month due to a wrist injury all while hitting .348.

The 42-year-old veteran R.A. Dickey takes the mound for the Braves in the opener. Dickey is known for his 2012 season that saw him with the NL’s Cy Young Award with the New York Mets. He’s 6-5 this season with a 4.23 ERA.

Mike Foltynewicz (7-5) and Jaime Garcia (2-7) take on Corbin and Godley in the closing two games of the series.

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