Hugging Haren, Reynolds: Diamondbacks In The Rough

What the hell happened to the Diamondbacks? Coming into the season, they were supposed to contend with the Dodgers in the National League West.  However, not much has gone right for them this year.  Brandon Webb has been out almost the entire year, and his return for 2010 is uncertain at this point.  Short Chris Young tangoed with the Mendoza Line and tripped, hitting .197/.297/.359 before being optioned to Triple A on Monday.  Manager Bob Melvin was dispatched in May.  However, there have been some bright spots for Arizona, currently 17 games out heading into this weekend's three game series with the Dodgers.

Justin Upton made a compelling case for best young player in the division, as the 21-year old has hit .301/.374/.541 this season, with a 131 OPS+ and a .396 wOBA.  Luckily for the Dodgers, they won't have to face Upton this weekend, as he is on the disabled list with a strained right oblique.

The Diamonback currently having the most surprising breakout season is third baseman Mark Reynolds.  The first thing that usually comes to mind regarding Reynolds is the strikeout.  No doubt, you will hear Vin Scully talking about Reynolds "paying the price" quite often over the three game series.  Reynolds already has the MLB record with 204 strikeouts, set last season.  He is on pace to shatter that record this season, with 155 punchouts already.  However, even with all those Ks, Reynolds has had an awesome season.  He is hitting .284/.374/.600 with 36 home runs and a .414 wOBA.  He even has 21 steals this season.

Dan Haren has quietly put together an outstanding season.  He has the lowest WHIP in baseball at 0.888, and is sixth in the National League in Fielding Independent Pitching with a 3.04 FIP.  That his record is only 11-7 seems criminal.  However, did you know how many home runs he gave up in 2005?  26.

With Haren scheduled to pitch tonight, and Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals set to pitch at Dodger Stadium Monday, the Dodgers will have faced four of the top six NL FIP leaders over an eight-game stretch:  Javier Vazquez last Sunday (2.63 FIP, 2nd), Tim Lincecum Wednesday (1.96, 1st), Haren (3.04, 6th), and Carpenter (2.85, 3rd).

Doug Davis is scheduled to pitch on Saturday, unless of course he is no longer on the Diamondbacks.  Davis was claimed on waivers by the Brewers on Wednesday, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman, meaning the clubs have 48 hours to work out a deal.  However, Adam McCalvy of MLB.com reported that a deal is unlikely between the two clubs.

When Chris Young was optioned to Triple A, Arizona called up Trent Oeltjen, who is essentially the Australian Mitch Jones.  He spent nine years down under in the minor leagues, but the 26-year old has finally hit the big time. The early results have been fantastic, as Oeltjen has three home runs in six games, hitting .414/.414/.862 so far.  Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic profiled Oeltjen, who seems like a fan favorite:

People who know him say his attitude never changed. The smile never went away. In Reno, where Oeltjen hit .300 with 51 extra-base hits and became known for signing autographs nonstop, he was hugely popular.

"He is, without a doubt, the most popular minor league player I have ever seen," said Reno radio announcer Ryan Radtke, in his seventh season in baseball. "People absolutely love him."

Despite their struggles, Arizona has played well over the last month or so, winning 21 of their last 35 games.  After July 3, Arizona is tied with Colorado for the best record in the division.

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AZ Snake Pit is the excellent Diamondbacks blog on SB Nation.  Here are some recent insights from their point of view:

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The Dodgers have won six of the eight contests with Arizona this season, including taking two of three games in Arizona during the season's opening weekend:

April 10:  @Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 4

April 11:  Dodgers 11, @Diamondbacks 2

April 12:  Dodgers 3, @Diamondbacks 1

May 4:  @Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 2

May 5:  @Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1

June 1:  Diamondbacks 3, @Dodgers 2

June 2:  @Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5

June 3:  @Dodgers 1, Diamondbacks 0

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2009 Diamondbacks
Record 52-63, 4th NL West, 17 GB
Pythag Record   
54-61 (10th in NL)
Runs Scored 4.55/gm (6th in NL)
wOBA .330 (6th in NL)
Runs Allowed 4.76/gm (12th in NL)
FIP 4.03 (6th in NL)
Defensive Efficiency .685 (14th in NL)

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Pitching Probables (assuming Doug Davis doesn't become a Brewer):

Friday  @ 6:40pmClayton Kershaw (8-6, 3.22 FIP) vs. Dan Haren (11-7, 3.04 FIP)

Saturday @ 5:10pmHiroki Kuroda (5-5, 3.49 FIP) vs. Doug Davis (7-10, 4.54 FIP)

Sunday @ 1:10pmRandy Wolf (6-6, 4.07 FIP) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (2-6, 5.35 FIP)

All three games are on KCAL this weekend, so I apologize to every Dodger fan out of the area who has to listen to Daron Sutton to get their Dodger fix.

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