The Arizona Diamondbacks are on the precipice of an amazing turnaround. Two years ago they lost 110 games, tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the worst record in the majors, but now they are tied for the last National League wild-card spot with four weeks left in the season.
Arizona (71-67) opened a three-game series against the visiting Colorado Rockies with a 4-2 win on Monday afternoon and will try to ensure a series win when the teams meet Tuesday night. The Diamondbacks will send rookie Brandon Pfaadt (1-7, 6.21 ERA) to face Colorado’s Kyle Freeland (5-14, 5.18).
Pfaadt will be making his first career appearance against the Rockies and 15th start since making his major league debut on May 3 at Texas. He lost his first six decisions before getting a victory against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 25.
In his most recent outing, Pfaadt gave up six runs (five earned) on eight hits in four innings during a 7-0 road defeat against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.
Arizona has juggled its roster in the past few days, including on Monday, when it promoted left-hander Andrew Saalfrank from Triple-A Reno and optioned right-handed starter Slade Cecconi, which leaves a hole in the rotation later in the week.
The Diamondbacks will have a fluid situation with the roster as they battle for their first postseason berth since 2017.
“Triple-A is going to play until the end of the month, so it’s business as usual with the roster,” Arizona general manager Mike Hazen said recently. “So we’ll continue to monitor what we think are the best opportunities to help the club. We’ll see how the pitching goes. We’ll see day to day. We have a number of arms down there that we feel like we could call on if we needed to.”
Colorado (50-87) appears headed to its first 100-loss season in franchise history, and its record against the NL West is a big reason why. The Rockies have gone 8-28 within the division and 2-9 against the D-backs this season.
They have 16 of their last 25 games against NL West foes, including the next two against Arizona.
Freeland is coming off his worst start since the All-Star break, when he gave up seven runs (six earned) on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings during a loss to the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday. He is 3-8 with a 5.49 ERA in 19 career appearances vs. the Diamondbacks, including 0-2 with a 6.17 ERA in two starts this year.
Like Arizona, Colorado is dealing with bullpen issues. On Monday, the Rockies optioned Tommy Doyle to Triple-A Albuquerque and recalled Nick Mears, who subsequently tossed two scoreless innings in the series opener.
The back end of the bullpen has become an issue for Colorado. Daniel Bard went on the 15-day injured list due to right forearm fatigue on Sunday, and closer Justin Lawrence has struggled lately, blowing five of his past eight save chances. Lawrence had a 2.76 ERA through Aug. 14, but he has an 18.00 mark over his past seven appearances.
He had two poor outings over the weekend, including a two-run ninth against Toronto on Sunday, when he took a loss.
“The reality of the situation is I’ve let our team down the past three weeks, almost a month now,” he said after the 7-5 defeat to the Blue Jays. “It’s frustrating because I’m not just going out there and doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.”
—Field Level Media
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