The 5: Key stretches for Arizona Diamondbacks over 60-game season
We now know how the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 60-game sprint will look.
There are many wrinkles to the D-backs’ 2020 schedule, most notably that they will play only nine total teams in MLB’s effort to reduce travel during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Torey Lovullo and Mike Hazen have both spoken on how a shorter season adds that much more meaning to each game, so here are the specific parts of the schedule to keep an eye on that could swing Arizona’s season one way or the other.
A good barometer to begin
The D-backs’ first six games of the season are on the road, beginning with four games against the San Diego Padres from July 24-27 and a two-game split with the Texas Rangers on July 28-29.
As far as over/under win totals go, Las Vegas grades all three teams in a similar space. The D-backs and Padres are both at a number of 31, while the Rangers line up at 29.5, per Oddshark.
That provides the D-backs with decent opposition right off the bat to see where they stand, and will also get them ready for the following seven games to open at home we cover next.
Rough start at home
The D-backs will first play at Chase Field on July 30 against the Los Angeles Dodgers for a four-game series. They then host the American League West’s Houston Astros for three games.
That means seven of Arizona’s first 13 games are against two of the best teams in baseball. The Dodgers have the best odds to win the World Series at +375 while Houston is third at +1200.
That’s one of two seven-game homestands for Arizona.
With the added urgency a 60-game season brings, you can imagine how that could increase even more with an understandably slow start through the first dozen-plus games of the season, all 13 of which figure to be against good-to-great teams.
Close out strong
September has a few interesting wrinkles to it.
Of the 24 games the D-backs play in 27 days, nine of them will be against the Dodgers or Astros. That includes six of the 10 total they play against Los Angeles on the season.
They are afforded the luxury of ending the regular season with five games at home against the Rangers and Colorado Rockies, both of whom can be considered amongst the lighter opposition the D-backs face in the 60-game stretch.
The month also has three games in San Francisco against the Giants and three games hosting the Seattle Mariners, so there’s certainly some room for the D-backs to take care of business while they fight to get results against Houston and LA.
It will be a rather strange coming-back party for Madison Bumgarner to San Francisco.
While franchise icons coming home for the first time since leaving usually warrants standing ovations from the fans, in all likelihood, there won’t be any in his first trip back as a member of the D-backs from Aug. 21-23.
Bumgarner spent his first 11 seasons in San Francisco, making 289 appearances for a 119-92 record and 3,13 ERA. In the Giants’ all-time leaderboard that goes back to 1883, Bumgarner ranks fourth in strikeouts (1,794) and ninth in total starts (286).
To go beyond that obvious narrative into another, the Giants are seen as one of the worst teams in the majors this year with an over/under win total in Las Vegas at 25.5. So, considering the dynamic of this schedule and how over 15% of the D-backs’ games will be against the Giants, it’s where they need to take advantage.
30 in 31
The D-backs avoided reaching the maximum of 20 straight games allowed on the schedule but do have a run of 17 and 13 in a row from Aug. 14 to Sept. 13 which is 30 games in 31 days.
In that bunch is Arizona’s second and final seven-game homestand of the year, a run of seven games in seven days from Aug. 24-30 against the Rockies and Giants.
Those are the two teams that are expected to be at the bottom of the NL West, and that spurt could be viewed as an opportunity for the D-backs to make up some ground right around the midway point of the season.