Tag Archives: Torey Lovullo

MLB 2019 Power Ranking: August 15

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The Philadelphia Phillies find themselves once again at 14th overall in the 2019 MLB Power Rankings as we reach the heart of the dog days of August.

Five clubs will make the playoffs from the National League. Each division champion will be joined by a pair of Wildcard teams.
In this August 15 version of the Power Rankings, while the Phillies remain right where they were back on August 1 among all teams in Major League Baseball, they have slipped a notch in the National League.
On August 1, the Phillies were the sixth-highest ranked team and were involved in a three-way tie for the two NL Wildcard spots. Now they have slipped a notch, to seventh in the NL. The standings reflect that slippage, as the club is now two games in back of the second Wildcard.
The Phillies have four games left head-to-head with the Nationals, who now control the top NL Wildcard spot, three games ahead of the Phils. Those will take place in Washington at the end of September.
The Cubs are the team in the second Wildcard spot. The Phillies have captured the first two games of a head-to-head series between the two teams, and are 4-2 against Chicago this season.  On Thursday night, the Phillies try to sweep the series and move within a game of the Cubs.
My own personal feelings never have anything to do with the MLB Power Rankings. Instead, the rank is all about actual team performance: results in the standings and statistical breakdowns.
I take what I have found to be key statistical categories and rank each of the 30 teams in Major League baseball on their ability to win ball games and perform on offense, the pitching mound, and in the field. There is never any subjectivity or opinion involved.

The MLB Power Rankings will be updated here at my website on roughly the 1st and 15th of the month for the remainder of the regular season using the following methodology.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

Introduced and then upgraded during the course of last season, my formula for compiling the rankings is always being researched to see if it can be improved upon.
That formula carried two categories over from the 2018 season: winning percentage and OPS against. The first is simple, reflecting each team’s ability to actually win ball games. The second reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage.
As of my first ranking for the 2019 season, runs-per-game replaced last year’s “runs scored” in order to get the offensive component. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games.
Also this summer, the defensive component was changed. The defensive metric beginning with the July 15 rankings was switched to “Defensive runs saved” as measured at Fangraphs, replacing the previous “fielding percentage” to gauge a team’s defensive effectiveness.
I then assign each of those four component category team rankings a 1-30 numerical value, and simply add those values up to determine an overall final ratings score. Where there is a tie, it is broken by win-loss percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about.

2019 AUGUST 1 –  MLB RANKINGS

The Los Angeles Dodgers are again technically at the top of the Power Rankings. It marks a second straight period at the top for the Dodgers, and their third top-ranked position of the six rankings that I’ve done this season.
However, the new top team from the American League was actually tied with the Dodgers in points. That would be the Houston Astros, who held the top position themselves during two of the three periods in which the Dodgers didn’t control the top spot.
Houston was only slotted in at #2 due to the tie-breaker that I use, which is their overall win-loss record. The Astros did pass the Minnesota Twins, who are the only other team besides  the Dodgers or Houston to hold the top position, as the top AL ball club.
The Cleveland Indians continue to move up, now a top five team. The Arizona Diamondbacks, who sit 3.5 games out in the Wildcard race in the actual standings, remain the biggest enigma, with the formula spitting them out as the second-best team in the National League and eighth overall.
On the rise further back are the New York Mets, who have moved into the top twenty for the first time all season.
In parentheses are each team’s position in the June 1, June 15 , July 1, July 15 and August 1 rankings, shown in that order from left to right.
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-3-2-2-1)
  2. Houston Astros (3-1-1-5-3)
  3. Minnesota Twins (2-2-3-1-2)
  4. Oakland Athletics (8-12-5-3-4)
  5. Cleveland Indians (18-18-15-10-6)
  6. Tampa Bay Rays (4-4-4-4-5)
  7. New York Yankees (5-8-9-6-10)
  8. Arizona Diamondbacks (9-5-6-9-7)
  9. Atlanta Braves (12-9-7-12-12)
  10. Chicago Cubs (10-13-11-7-9)
  11. Boston Red Sox (6-6-10-8-8)
  12. Saint Louis Cardinals (14-15-14-14-15)
  13. Washington Nationals (24-19-13-13-13)
  14. Philadelphia Phillies (15-14-18-16-14)
  15. Los Angeles Angels (19-17-19-11-11)
  16. Milwaukee Brewers (7-10-16-19-16)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (13-16-17-18-17)
  18. San Diego Padres (17-20-20-17-20)
  19. New York Mets (22-23-24-25-24)
  20. San Francisco Giants (29-27-25-21-18)
  21. Texas Rangers (16-11-8-15-19)
  22. Kansas City Royals (21-21-22-22-22)
  23. Colorado Rockies (11-7-12-20-21)
  24. Miami Marlins (23-26-21-23-23)
  25. Toronto Blue Jays (28-28-26-28-27)
  26. Chicago White Sox (25-24-28-27-28)
  27. Seattle Mariners (26-22-27-26-26)
  28. Pittsburgh Pirates (20-25-23-24-25)
  29. Baltimore Orioles (30-30-30-30-29)
  30. Detroit Tigers (27-29-29-29-30)

SPOTLIGHT TEAM: ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Previous spotlight teams: Minnesota (6/01), Atlanta (6/15), Texas (7/01), Oakland (7/15), Tampa Bay (8/01)
 
The Arizona Diamondbacks woke up on Thursday morning at 61-60, just barely above the .500 mark. They are a distant second in the NL West Division, 19 games behind the Dodgers in the loss column. They also sit a game ahead of the division-rival Giants.
Manager Torey Lovullo is in his third season at the helm in the Arizona desert. During his first season back in 2017, Lovullo guided the Dbacks to a playoff berth and was named the NL Manager of the Year. Last season, Arizona led the division into September but collapsed in much the same way as did the Phillies.
 
This year, the Dbacks have bounced back and forth between second place and third in the division since the start of July. They have also again mirrored the Phillies in a way, in that they have not been able to go on either a long winning streak to solidy a playoff berth or a deep losing skid to fall out of the race.
 
Arizona ranks as the top team in baseball defensively – by a wide margin – and that is a major reason for their high finish in the Power Rankings. They also rank 8th in runs-per-game, and their 11th ranked pitching staff is also solid. 
 
Despite a strong defense, productive offense, and that solid pitching the Dbacks just cannot seem to win consistently. With a bunch of really good ballplayers, they seem to be lacking that one big star, the “straw that stirs the drink” type player.
 
Here in the middle of August, eight teams are within 4.5 games of one another in the battle for the two NL Wildcard playoff berths. My bet is that by the time these MLB Power Rankings are next updated on September 1, at least a couple of those will have fallen out of the race. My bet is that Arizona will not be one of those.

Phillies visit the Arizona desert for key series with host Diamondbacks

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The Philadelphia Phillies (58-53) are tied for the second of two National League Wildcard playoff positions as they take on the Arizona Diamondbacks (56-56) in a three-game series starting on Monday night at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.

The Dbacks 2019 regular season has gone much as the Phillies own season, see-sawing back and forth between control of one of those NL Wildcard spots and then sitting just on the outside looking in at a possible postseason berth.
Victories in 10 of 14 games at the start of June lifted the Dbacks from fourth place to second place in the National League West Division. But then Arizona dropped six straight, and the club has pretty much tread water ever since.
At the MLB trade deadline, general manager Mike Hazen was a busy man. He made four trades on July 31, highlighted by a deal in which he dealt away the club’s pitching ace, Zack Greinke, to the Houston Astros for a four-prospect package.
Hazen also brought in two new arms for the rotation in veteran Mike Leake from Seattle and young Zac Gallen from Miam. Both of those pitchers will make their debut with the Dbacks in this series.
The Arizona offensive attack has been fairly solid this year, currently ranking ninth in all of Major League Baseball by scoring 5.21 runs per game. That is almost a half-run per game better than the 16th ranked Phillies. The Dbacks hitters rank 5th in the National League in both batting average and OPS, and have the fourth-fewest strikeouts in the league.
On the mound, Arizona pitching ranks 5th in the National League in batting average against and sixth in strikeouts. An area where the club truly excels is on defense, where they are by far the top-ranked defensive unit in baseball according to Fangraphs. That helped the Dbacks finish 7th in the August 1 MLB Power Rankings here at Phillies Nation.
These two teams met once earlier this season, with Arizona taking two of three games at Citizens Bank Park in the second week of June by two very different methods. They crushed the ball in a 13-8 victory in the opener, then received a gem from Merrill Kelly, who pitches the opener this time around, in a 2-0 victory in that June series finale. The Phillies won the middle contest by a 7-4 score.
This is a chance for Arizona to make up ground head-to-head with one of the teams it trails in the playoff hunt. It is also an opportunity for the Phillies to distance themselves from one of their nearest pursuers. If it goes anything like the vast majority of this 2019 Phillies campaign, one of these teams will simply take two of three. Which team remains to be seen.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Eduardo Escobar (30/3B): .279/.336/.531, 24 HR, 53 XBH, 88 RBIs, 69 runs, 4 steals
Christian Walker (28/1B): .257/.349/.483, 20 HR, 41 XBH, 53 RBIs, 59 runs, 7 steals
Nick Ahmed (29/SS): .265/.326/.429, 11 HR, 38 XBH, 55 RBIs, 58 runs, 7 steals
Carson Kelly (24/C): .263/.348/.535, 14 HR, 31 XBH, 37 RBIs, 29 runs (247 plate appearances)
David Peralta (31/LF): .282/.347/.457, 9 HR, 37 XBH, 47 RBIs, 43 runs
Adam Jones (33/RF):. 270/.320/.433, 13 HR, 36 XBH, 51 RBIs, 56 runs
Jarrod Dyson (34/OF): .250/.333/.356, 6 HR, 16 XBH, 23 RBIs, 48 runs, 24 steals

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Ketel Marte (25/CF): The switch-hitting Dominican made his big-league debut with the Seattle Mariners at the 2015 MLB trade deadline, then spent most of the remainder of that season and all of the following as the Mariners starting shortstop.
In November 2016, Seattle shipped Marte and pitcher Taijuan Walker to Arizona for current Phillies shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Zac Curtis.
Marte’s career with the Dbacks organization saw him begin back at Triple-A. Following his promotion back to the big-leagues on June 28, 2018 he took over as the starting shortstop in Arizona.
This season, Marte has been used much as the Phillies have used Scott Kingery, as a super-utility player. He was featured mostly at second base and in center field, with occasional appearances at his natural shortstop position, for most of the first couple of months.
Now, Marte appears to have settled in as the regular center fielder, though manager Torey Lovullo will flip him back into the infield at times. He has responded well, breaking out to become a first time National League All-Star.
Marte enters this series with a .319/.380/.577 slash line His 24 home runs, 56 extra-base hits, 66 RBIs, 75 runs scored, and six stolen bases make him the single most dangerous all-around offensive performer in the Arizona lineup. And at just 25 years of age, he appears to be only scratching the surface of his talents and production.
Marte also has a Phillies connection. His uncle is former Phillies 2010-11 popular utility player Wilson Valdez. Marte is married to a cousin of Toronto Blue Jays third base phenom Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

DBACKS SHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

MONDAY – Merrill Kelly (30/RH): 7-11, 4.52 ERA, 4.61 FIP, 1.277 WHIP, 127 hits over 125.1 IP across 22 starts with a 100/33 K:BB
TUESDAY – Mike Leake (31/RH): 9-8, 4.27 ERA, 4.73 FIP, 1.255 WHIP, 153 hits over 137 IP across 22 starts with a 100/19 K:BB, all with the Seattle Mariners.
WEDNESDAY – Zac Gallen (24/RH): 1-3, 2.72 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 1.183 WHIP, 25 hits over 36.1 IP across 7 starts with a 43/18 K:BB, all with the Miami Marlins in this, his rookie season, following a June 20 promotion.

THE SKIPPER

Torey Lovullo: Having turned 54 years old just last week, Lovullo is now in his third full season at the helm in Phoenix. He has a career 231-205 mark thus far. After leading Arizona to a 93-win, second place season and an NL Wildcard playoff berth in his first year back in 2017, Lovullo was named the National League Manager of the Year.
During those 2017 playoffs, Lovullo’s Dbacks outscored the division-rival Colorado Rockies by 11-8 in Phoenix to win the Wildcard Game. However, they were promptly swept out in three straight by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers in an NLDS.
Arizona entered September in first place a year ago, but the Dbacks collapsed to lose 20 of their final 28 games to finish in third place. Despite a second straight winning record for Lovullo, it was considered a disappointing finish after the club had led the division for most of the season.
Lovullo is a SoCal native from Santa Monica. As a player, he was the fifth round choice of the Detroit Tigers in the 1987 MLB Draft out of UCLA. He would play in parts of eight big-league seasons, though only in 1993 with the California (now Los Angeles) Angels did he play regularly, spending much of that season as the Halos second baseman.
Lovullo actually wrapped up his playing career in Major League Baseball with the Phillies, appearing in 17 games with the club in the 1999 season. His final big-league home run came in a Phillies uniform on September 8 of that year against the Houston Astros. On October 2, he registered his final hit against the Montreal Expos at Veteran’s Stadium.
After playing the 2000 season with the Yakult Swallows in Japan, Lovullo retired. He was then hired by the Cleveland Indians to tutor their minor league infielders during the 2001 season, beginning a lengthy career as a coach and manager in the minor leagues.
After spending the decade of the 2000’s as a respected manager in the Indians farm system, Lovullo had become one of the top candidates any time a big-league managerial opening occurred. He interviewed for a few positions, and was finally brought on board as a coach under John Farrell with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2010.
When Farrell left for the Boston Red Sox managerial job after the 2012 season he brought Lovullo with him as the bench coach in Boston. The two would win the 2014 World Series together in Boston. Meanwhile, Lovullo continued to be one of the hottest names for any MLB managerial opening.
When Hazen took over as the Dbacks general manager in October 2016, Lovullo was his top name to take over as the new skipper in Arizona. Lovullo was hired on November 4, and has been in the position ever since. Highly respected in the game and with a strong relationship with Hazen, look for Lovullo to be just at the start of a long run as Dbacks manager.

THE BALLPARK

Chase Field: The first stadium in the United States to be built with a retractable roof, one that protects fans from the brutal heat of summers in the Arizona desert, Chase Field opened with the Diamondbacks first game as an MLB expansion team for the 1998 season, and has been their home ever since.
Located in dowtown Phoenix, Arizona, the fences are 330 and 334 respectively to left and right field. It is 374 to left-center, 413 feet to what is known as deep left-center, and 407 straightaway to center field. Around to deep right-center field the fence is 413 feet away, and then 374 to right-center field.
The stadium has played host to the 2001 World Series, in which the Dbacks led by pitchers Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling won the franchise only world championship. It was also host to the 2011 MLB All-Star Game.
Originally having a natural grass playing surface, for last season the Diamondbacks went to a synthetic sports turf. Chase Field also has a swimming pool located in right-center field, which is rented to patrons as a suite holding 35 guests.

Dbacks and Phillies combine for MLB record 13 home runs in 13-8 win for Arizona

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Eduardo Escobar’s big night helped power Dbacks past Phillies

The Philadelphia Phillies (37-29) are no longer all alone in first place in the National League East Division standings. After being crushed by a 13-8 score on Monday night by the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks (35-32) at Citizens Bank Park, the Phillies now find themselves tied at the top with the Atlanta Braves.

This marks the first time since April 25 that the Phillies were not at the top of the division by themselves. The Braves crushed the Pittsburgh Pirates tonight in Atlanta by 13-7 to earn the tie. It was a fourth consecutive win for the Braves, the fifth win in a row for the Dbacks, and the Phillies second straight loss.
The Phillies and Braves are set to meet this coming weekend down in Atlanta in a key mid-season series, the first meeting between the clubs since the Phillies swept the Braves in the first series of the season back in late March.
The vast majority of the 21 runs scored by the two teams came via the long ball. The two clubs combined for a Major League Baseball record 13 home runs in this contest. Unfortunately for the home side and their fans, most of those were slugged by the visitors.

Arizona jumped all over Phillies starter Jerad Eickhoff (3-4) about as hard as you can jump on a pitcher. The Dbacks first three batters – Jarrod DysonKetel Marte and David Peralta – all homered.
Credit Eickhoff in the immediate aftermath of that potentially demoralizing opening. He settled down to retire the next nine straight Arizona batters as the Phillies slowly fought back with solo runs in each of their first three at-bats to get back to even.
Jean Segura‘s sixth home run of the season got the Phillies on the board in the home 1st inning. In the 2nd, Scott Kingery ripped a one-out triple and scored on a ground out by Maikel Franco to make it 3-2. They tied it up in the 3rd when Rhys Hoskins singled home Segura, who had reached on a fielder’s choice and stole second base.

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Jean Segura’s solo blast has the Phillies down just 3-1 as we head to the bottom of the 2nd inning.

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That tied didn’t last long, as the Diamondbacks blew the game open by scoring eight times over the next three frames. Eduard Escobar and Alex Avila each blasted two-run homers in the top of the 4th to give Arizona back the lead at 7-3.
After Kingery drilled his fifth home run of the season out to right field in the bottom of that inning to cut the deficit to 7-4, Arizona answered with three more runs thanks to two more long balls. Escobar blasted his second of the game and 17th of the season, and then Ildemar Vargas ripped his third of the year.
In the top of the 6th, the Eduardo Escobar show continued. He roped an RBI double to give him five ribbies on the night, and the Dbacks had an 11-4 lead.
The Phillies had one positive on this night, and that was the performance of Kingery. In the bottom of the 8th he homered again, his second of the night and sixth of the season, to make it an 11-5 ball game. Later in the frame, Nick Williams doubled and scored on a base hit from Bryce Harper, making it 11-6.

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Second homer of the night for Kingery, who has been the lone bright spot tonight for the Phillies.

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But the Dbacks relentless offense still was not finished. In the top of the 9th inning, Vargas crushed his own second homer of the night to push Arizona’s lead back out to 13-6. He thus became the third player, joining his teammate Escobar and the Phillies’ Kingery, to homer twice in this one.
Even with that big lead, Dbacks skipper Torey Lovullo brought in his closer, Greg Holland, to wrap this one up. Hoskins greeted Holland by driving the 14th home run of the season by the first baseman out over the left field wall to make it a 13-7 game.
Two batters later, Jay Bruce roped his 19th homer of the year, his fifth in seven games since joining the Phillies in a trade from Seattle last week. It was just announced earlier today that Bruce had been named as the NL Player of the Week honoree for his hot debut with the club last week.

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The Phillies got homers from Hoskins and Bruce in the 9th inning, but it was too little, too late.

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That was finally the end of the scoring on this night. 13 home runs in all went over the walls of Citizens Bank Park. Unfortunately, most of those came off the bats of the visitors as Arizona wrapped up a 13-8 victory.
With their hold on sole possession of first place in the division gone and the Braves playing good baseball, the pressure on the Phillies has now increased. They have not gone on a truly extended winning run all season long. If there was ever a time to get one started, it would be now. These two teams will meet again on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park, when Jake Arrieta will try to regain his April mojo.

SHIBE VINTAGE SPORTS STARTING PITCHING PERFORMANCE

Jerad Eickhoff: 3 IP, 5 hits (all homers), 7 earned, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts. 75 pitches, 44 for strikes.
Taylor Clarke: 3.1 IP, 6 hits (2 homers), 4 earned, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts. 77 pitches, 48 for strikes.

PHILLIES NUGGETS PLAYER OF THE GAME:  EDUARDO ESCOBAR

The Dbacks third baseman went 4-5 with two homers, a double and a single, driving in five runs and scoring three times. Escobar raised his average to the .299 level, and his 17 home runs and 54 RBIs both lead the Arizona lineup.

TICKET IQ NEXT GAME

Arizona Diamondbacks bring desert heat to South Philly

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Dbacks tickets could still be hot sellers in Phoenix this summer

The Philadelphia Phillies (37-28) are 5-1-1 over their last seven series, with only a sweep at the hands of the host Los Angeles Dodgers showing as a black mark over their last month of play. They lead the NL East Division standings by one game over the Atlanta Braves.

To close out a short home stand, the Phillies welcome in the Arizona Diamondbacks (34-32) of the NL West Division to Citizens Bank Park for three games to open this week. The Dbacks are winners of four straight games, and now sit 2.5 games behind Atlanta for the final NL Wildcard playoff berth.
Over the first month or so of the season, the Diamondbacks were as hot as the Arizona desert in mid-summer. They bolted out to a 20-13 start and were within a game of the division lead.
But the club won just eight of their next 25 games to fall below the .500 mark, consistently dropping further and further behind the Dodgers in the standings. Even with that four-game current win streak, the Dbacks still trail the Dodgers by 11 games.
While their rivals in Los Angeles appear to be well on their way to a seventh consecutive division crown, Arizona remains squarely in the National League Wildcard race as they fight to reach the playoffs for just the third time in this decade. So, they will certainly pose a challenge to the Phillies, who are looking to return to those playoffs for the first time in eight years.
Arizona comes in with a potent offensive attack which ranks third in the National League in runs-per-game. They are also second in the league in doubles, third  in batting average and stolen bases, fourth in OPS, and fifth in home runs. So this is a well-rounded and balanced attack.
The Dbacks pitching staff is no slouch either, ranking fourth in the NL in ERA, and 5th in OPS-against and strikeouts. No team in all of Major League Baseball has a better fielding percentage than the Arizona defenders, who have committed the fewest errors in the entire National League.
Bottom line, this is a sound ball club that is coming in to South Philly this week. Though they were struggling badly for more than a month, the Dbacks have recently gotten hot again. It will be up to the Phillies to cool them off, finding a way to win yet another series.

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

TOP LINEUP THREATS

Eduardo Escobar: 30-year-old switch-hitting third baseman came via trade from the Minnesota Twins last August. Coming off career highs of 23 homers and 84 RBIs a year ago, Escobar is on his way to beating both of those totals this year. He is tied for the club lead with 15 home runs, and leads the Dbacks with 49 RBIs, 35 extra-base hits, and 41 runs scored.
Ketel Marte: A 25-year-old switch-hitting second baseman who also played a lot of center field over the first two months of the season. Marte has already set a career high with 15 homers, and his 45 RBIs, 31 extra-base hits, and 39 runs scored are all second on the team.
David Peralta: The 31-year-old left fielder leads club regulars with a .301 average and .350 on-base percentage. He won an NL Silver Slugger Award a year ago when he banged 30 homers with 87 RBIs and 60 extra-base hits.
Christian Walker: 28-year-old first baseman is in his fifth big-league season, but his first as a starter. Walker’s 29 extra-base hits and 34 runs scored are third on the team.

SPOTLIGHT PLAYER

Adam Jones: The 33-year-old veteran right fielder signed as a free agent with Arizona during spring training after spending the previous 11 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. Jones is a five-time AL All-Star who won four Gold Glove Awards and a 2013 Silver Slugger Award.
Making just $3 million on a one-year contract, Jones could end up as trade bait next month if the Dbacks cannot stay in the postseason hunt. His is slashing .276/.321/.500 this year and is third on the team with a dozen homers and 37 RBIs. He has even been rumored as a possible Phillies trade target.

SCHEDULED STARTING PITCHERS

The Phillies get a break in that they will miss the Dbacks top two starting pitchers, Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, during this series.
MON: Taylor Clarke (26/RHP): 1-2, 4.43 ERA, 1.254 WHIP, 21 hits allowed over 22.1 IP across 5 games (4 starts) with a 15/7 K:BB
TUE: Jon Duplantier (24/RHP): 1-0, 3.27 ERA, 1.136 WHIP, 17 hits allowed over 22 IP across 7 games (2 starts) with a 23/8 K:BB
WED: Merrill Kelly (30/RHP): 6-6, 4.12 ERA, 1.359 WHIP, 76 hits allowed over 74.1 IP across 13 starts with a 58/25 K:BB

KEY BENCH & BULLPEN PIECES

Ildemaro Vargas: 27-year-old switch-hitting infielder plays both 2B and 3B and is hitting .260 with six extra-base hits.
J.R. Murphy / Alex Avila: Along with 24-year-old starter Carson Kelly, the Dbacks have a three-headed catcher set-up. Kelly has started 29, Murphy 17, and Avila 15 behind the dish. They have combined for 14 homers and 33 RBIs, which would be third on the club from one player.
Greg Holland: The 33-year-old, nine-year big-league closer is a 3x All-Star and signed with Arizona as a free agent back in January. He led the NL in Save back in 2017 with Colorado, and is having a true shutdown season, allowing just 10 hits over 20.2 innings with a 28/10 K:BB while surrendering just one home run. He hasn’t allowed a run now in more than a month.
Archie Bradley: A 26-year-old power righty, Bradley has struck out 36 over 28.2 innings. However, he also has allowed 35 hits and has a 4.71 ERA and 1.814 WHIP. He has held the opposition scoreless in eight of his last 10 outings. He has four different outings where he was blown up over 27 appearances, so unless you catch him on a bad night, he can be real tough.
Andrew Chafin: The 29-year-old lefty has allowed 19 hits over 20.2 innings with a 25/10 K:BB.
Matt Andriese: 29-year-old righty began his career as a starter with Tampa Bay, but has made a nice transition to the bullpen. He was traded to Arizona last August and has allowed 31 hits over 34 innings with a 38/14 K:BB this season.
Yoan Lopez: Cuban native is in his first full big-league season. The 26-year-old has been strong across 30 games, allowing 17 hits over 25.2 innings with an 18/9 K:BB.

Lovullo is in his third season at the helm of the Dbacks. (Mwinog2777)

THE SKIPPER

The Boston Red Sox bench coach for four seasons and a two-time minor league Manager of the Year, Torey Lovullo was finally given the chance at his first big-league managerial job in Arizona for the 2017 season after being a candidate for numerous jobs for years.
He led the club to 93 wins and a runner-up finish that year, winning the NL Wildcard Game before getting swept by the divison-rival Dodgers in an NLDS. For that work, Lovullo was honored as the NL’s Manager of the Year.
Lovullo turns 54-years-old next month, and has an overall 209-181 record as skipper in Arizona.

SERIES WEATHER REPORT

MONDAY: There is a 50/50 chance of showers and thunderstorms at the 7:05 pm first-pitch time, and that threat will remain about the same throughout the game. Temps in the mid-70’s with light winds.
TUESDAY: Should be a perfect night at the ballpark. Temps in the upper-70’s with a moderate breeze at the 7:05 pm first-pitch time. Sunny at the start, clear skies as the sun sets, almost no chance of rain.
WEDNESDAY: Another nice night in South Philly, with temps during the game in the mid-upper 70’s, moderate breeze, and almost no chance of rain.

MLB awards: my 2017 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA members submitted 2017 MLB Awards ballots

With the four Major League Baseball Division Series each heading towards their climactic moments, this marks a good time to take a quick look back at the regular season.

As a lifetime member of the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America), the end of each MLB regular season means that my awards ballot is due.

The IBWAA asks each of its members to vote on five categories in both the National and American Leagues. Those five are the MVP and Cy Young, as well as each league’s top reliever, rookie, and manager.

As with the vast majority of voters in the IBWAA, my own selections were certainly based on performance. However, also as with every other voter, subjectivity comes in to play.

There are almost always multiple individuals deserving of awards consideration. That was most definitely the case this season. I found this past 2017 MLB season to be one of the toughest ever for which to fill out an awards ballot.

For the MVP Award, I always consider that middle word carefully: valuable. In addition to tremendous statistical seasons, I want my Most “Valuable” Player to have provided his team invaluable performances defensively and at clutch moments, as well as providing leadership.

For me, when two players each have great statistical seasons, but one of those players is with a winning/contending club, the contender is going to finish ahead on my ballot most times.

Hit 50 home runs, or win 25 games on the mound, for a 4th place team that finishes a dozen or more games out of the playoffs? To me, your losing team could have done that without your “valuable” performance.

I don’t ignore great statistical performances from players on losing ball clubs. You’re just not going to get my first place MVP vote in the vast majority of seasons.

The IBWAA asks each voter to rank their top ten finishers in each MVP race, the top five finishers for the Cy Young Award, and the top three in each of the other categories.

The IBWAA will announce the winners in November. Follow the IBWAA Twitter feed for awards results, as well as regularly for great baseball writing by our members.

With all that said, here is the ballot that I submitted for the 2017 MLB Awards.

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National League Most Valuable Player

  1. Anthony Rendon
  2. Charlie Blackmon
  3. Paul Goldschmidt
  4. Giancarlo Stanton
  5. Cody Bellinger
  6. Nolan Arenado
  7. Joey Votto
  8. Kris Bryant
  9. Bryce Harper
  10. Corey Seager
American League Most Valuable Player
  1. Francisco Lindor
  2. Jose Altuve
  3. Jose Ramirez
  4. Aaron Judge
  5. Mookie Betts
  6. Mike Trout
  7. George Springer
  8. Byron Buxton
  9. Josh Donaldson
  10. Eric Hosmer
National League Cy Young Award
  1. Max Scherzer
  2. Stephen Strasburg
  3. Zack Greinke
  4. Clayton Kershaw
  5. Jimmy Nelson
American League Cy Young Award
  1. Chris Sale
  2. Corey Kluber
  3. Luis Severino
  4. Carlos Carrasco
  5. Chris Archer
National League Rookie of the Year
  1. Cody Bellinger
  2. Rhys Hoskins
  3. Luis Castillo
American League Rookie of the Year
  1. Aaron Judge
  2. Andrew Benintendi
  3. Matt Olson
National League Top Reliever
  1. Kenley Jansen
  2. Corey Knebel
  3. Wade Davis
American League Top Reliever
  1. Craig Kimbrel
  2. Cody Allen
  3. Alex Colome
NL Manager of the Year
  1. Torey Lovullo
  2. Dusty Baker
  3. Dave Roberts
AL Manager of the Year
  1. Paul Molitor
  2. Terry Francona
  3. A.J. Hinch