The D-backs and Braves were two of the major league's most-improved teams in the first half.
The D-backs (53-36) have 15 more wins than they did at the All-Star break a year ago. The rebuilding Braves (42-45), while still under .500, are 11 victories over where they stood a year ago.
This will be the D-backs first visit to the new Sun Trust Park. They had an offensive downturn heading into the break, resulting in five losses in their last six games. The Diamondbacks swept a three-game series in Atlanta at Turner Field last May and won the season series 5-2.
The Braves split a four-game series with NL East-leading Washington before getting four days off and are 13-8 over their last 21. "It was a good first half," said Atlanta manager Brian Snitker. "The record could have been better. We shot ourselves in the foot a few games. I think, realistically, we could have been over .500."
Walker has a solid first half but struggled in his final start before the break, giving up three first-inning runs to the Reds in a 7-0 loss on Saturday. He was lifted after five innings, surrendering five runs on five hits and three walks.
The Reds hit two home runs against Walker -- the first time all season he gave up more than one in a game. His home run rate of 0.77 per nine innings is dramatically down from last season's 1.81 while working in the more pitching-friendly environment of Seattle.
"We are exactly where we're at because of the pitching," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We all know starting pitching sets the tone for the day, and I feel like we have a lot of really key pieces in place."
Dickey, a 42-year-old knuckleballer, was pitching his best baseball of the season heading into the break, yielding one or no runs in his last four starts. In his last 27 innings, he's limited opponents to three runs and 17 hits. And in his last 21 innings at home, he has surrendered just two earned runs and 11 hits.
The D-backs shouldn't expect much in the way of variety from Dickey -- he throws the knuckler 85 percent of the time, and a sinker 9 percent.
He is 2-1 with a 1.66 ERA in three career outings against the Diamondbacks but hasn't pitched against them since 2012 with the Mets.
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Both the D-backs and Braves got back key pieces just prior to the break -- with center fielder A.J. Pollock returning from a groin injury for Arizona and first baseman Freddie Freeman returning from a broken wrist for Atlanta. Both were injured in the second week of May, and both returned on July 4.
Freeman has shifted over to third base, enabling hot-hitting Matt Adams to remain in the Braves lineup as their first baseman. He hasn't missed a beat upon returning, going 10 for 26 with two home runs, three doubles and eight RBI in six games since being activated. Overall he's hitting .348 with 16 homers, a .456 on-base percentage and .745 slugging percentage in 43 games.
Pollock has been phased in more gradually by the D-backs -- starting in four of six games since he returned. In Sunday's pre-break finale against the Reds, he homered, stole two bases and made a diving catch in center field. He's hitting .288 for the season in three home runs and 13 steals in 43 games.
Scouting the Braves
The Braves are 28th in the majors with 88 home runs, but the return of Freeman should help in that regard.
Mike Adams has hit 13 home runs in 44 games for Atlanta with a .292 average, after hitting just one homer in 31 games for St. Louis. Matt Kemp has 12 homers and a .293 average, and former D-back Ender Inciarte has seven homers and a .302 average and was chosen as the Braves' only representative in the All-Star game. Inciarte's seven home runs are already a career high.
Shortstop Dansby Swanson, who came over to the Braves with Inciarte in the trade for pitcher Shelby Miller, has experienced some growing pains in his first full major-league season. He's hitting .221 with six homers in 85 games while striking out 77 times.