February 3, 2023

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D-backs need to take advantage of non-division stretch

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This story was excerpted from Steve Gilbert’s D-backs Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Ask baseball players or managers about particular stretches in the schedule, and they will tell you some version of no one series — road trip or homestand — being more important than any other. And they certainly will not talk about needing to make sure they take advantage of beating teams that are struggling.

But while they might not say it, we will: This 10-game road trip that begun Friday for the D-backs in Pittsburgh and winds through Cincinnati and Philadelphia is a big one and an opportunity that they must take advantage of.

The National League West to this point looks to be, by far, the best division in baseball. The Dodgers, Padres and Giants each have winning records while the D-backs are at 25-27, ahead of the Rockies.

Meanwhile the NL East has just one team above .500, and while the NL Central has the Brewers and Cardinals over .500, it gets pretty ugly after that.

That means that teams with whom the D-backs are competing for Wild Card spots have teams they can feast on within their own divisions. The D-backs, however, still have 19 games left with the Giants, 15 with the Padres and eight more with the Dodgers.

So the D-backs have to make the most of the games they have against non-division opponents, especially those who are not playing well this year.

Which brings us to the Pirates, Reds and Phillies, who are a combined 62-88.

All three are Major League teams and not pushovers, don’t get me wrong, but they are teams in various stages of rebuilding or, in the case of the Phillies, just plain struggling. That presents an opportunity for the D-backs.

So far this year, the D-backs have done a nice job of taking advantage of the schedule when they can. They are 17-8 against teams that currently have losing records as opposed to 8-19 against those with winning ones.

“We would like to be in a better spot, but I think everybody feels pretty good with where we’re at right now, I think,” D-backs left-hander Madison Bumgarner said. “There are a few series that if we could go back and do over, we’d be in a lot better spot than we are now. Everybody’s pretty happy with where we are, and I think we’re still picking up as we’re going here.”

Picking up wins over the next 10 days could go a long way towards setting the D-backs’ course the rest of the season.

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