For a team that hasn’t been around that long, the Arizona Diamondbacks have a number of rivals. Not just rivals, bitter rivals. That’s just the nature of the contentious National League West.
The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, and Padres have some seriously bad feelings towards each other. The Dodgers and Giants have hated each other since at least Prohibition. The Padres have been treated like “little brothers” by the other two California teams since they stumbled into the league in 1969. The Rockies, while not too successful, have achieved the seemingly impossible: they’re hated by everyone in the division. Maybe it’s the obnoxious purple.
The D-Backs are not going to the playoffs, but they can spoil things for the Giants, a team that revels in beating them not only in the regular season, but who also has lots of fans in the Phoenix area who like to go to Chase Field and be a nuisance. The Snakes would love nothing more than to beat the Giants this week in San Francisco and deny them the division crown.
NL West Race Is Top Heavy
The Giants enter the three-game series with Arizona this week with 102 wins. Yet amazingly, they only lead the Dodgers by two games. That’s why this otherwise meaningless series against the Diamondbacks has meaning.
The Dodgers will make the playoffs too. But whichever team fails to win the NL West, that team will be required to play the St. Louis Cardinals in the one-game wild card playoff. The wild card is a win-or-go-home affair. There’s no room for error. One bad pitch, one misstep, and season over. That’s a lot to swallow for a team that’s won more than 100 games.
The Dodgers have won the last eight division titles, and with their deep pitching staff they’re showing no signs of slowing their pursuit of the Giants. They are the defending World Series champions, but if they should lose the wild card to the Cardinals (who have won 17 straight games of Tuesday), their 100-plus wins in 2021 wouldn’t mean anything.
How the Diamondbacks Can Play Spoiler
The Diamondbacks have three chances (from Tuesday to Thursday), to upset the Giants chances at securing the division crown. It is no surprise that sports betting apps like DraftKings and Caesars have the Giants as the favorite to win since they are 14-2 against the Dbacks this season.
How could the D-Backs beat the heavily favored Giants on the road? Well, it will take good starting pitching and clutch hitting. Even a team like the Diamondbacks who have lost 107 games, can beat a superior team if they get a dominant start and solid relief pitching out of the bullpen.
Wednesday and Thursday Matchups: Diamondbacks vs. Giants
Wednesday, September 29: Merrill Kelly (ARI) vs. Alex Wood (SFG)
Kelly has allowed six home runs against the Giants in 2021. This isn’t a great matchup, but eventually the worm has to turn for Kelly. doesn’t it?
Thursday, September 30: Madison Bumgarner (ARI) vs. TBD
How much do you think Bumgarner wants to beat his former team in a game that has implications on the standings? This could be an emotional game in San Francisco, where MadBum is still revered by Giants’ fans.