Any way you slice it, the D-backs (49-28) are one of the hottest teams in baseball -- nearly as hot as the Phoenix temperatures. They've won three in a row, 5 of their last 6 and 12 of 14 to move 21 games over .500. It's two wins better at this point of the season than at any time in the 20 seasons of Diamondbacks' baseball.
They've gone 14-2 at home since May 15 and are 29-10 at Chase Field for the season. Their starting pitchers rank first in the majors with a 3.45 cumulative ERA and are 11-2 with a 2.95 ERA over the past three weeks.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in the unfamiliar position of being five games under .500 and 4 ½ games back in third place in the NL Central. They are 14-25 since peaking at six games over .500 (21-15) on May 14, but they come to two with a two-game winning streaking, scoring eight runs in back-to-back games.
Walker will be making his first career appearance against the Cardinals. He was given an extra day off since earning the victory in last Wednesday's 16-5 win at Colorado. He gave up three runs and struck out eight in six innings of work against the Rockies and is 2-0 with a 3.27 ERA in two starts since returning from the disabled list with a blister on his pitching hand.
"We are looking for moments to give guys breaks and the ability to recover," manager Torey Lovullo said, explaining the reasoning for pushing Walker's start back a day. "It is a long season, and we want to make sure in August and September, these games are going to be very meaningful in our anticipation, that they are ready to go."
Joe CamporealeJoe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez (6-6, 2.87)
Martinez has made 10 quality starts in his last 11 appearances and has given up just three earned runs in his past 21 innings. He ranks third in the NL in ERA -- behind Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw -- and seventh in strikeouts.
He's made seven career appearances and four starts vs. the Diamondbacks, compiling a 2-1 record and 2.86 ERA. He is 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA at Chase Field.
But Martinez has found success on the road hard to come by this season, going 2-5 with a 4.29 ERA in seven starts away from home. He lost at Philadelphia last Thursday, giving up two earned runs and six hits in six innings.
John GeliebterJohn Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports
Scouting the Cardinals
The Cardinals are without two of their regulars. Center fielder Dexter Fowler went on the disabled list Sunday with a heel spur, and second baseman Kolten Wong has been out since June 15 with a right tricep strain.
Randal Grichuk was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday to replace Fowler on the roster and has homered twice in two games. He had five homers in six games at Memphis prior to being recalled.
Third baseman Jedd Gyorko has been their most productive hitter with 12 home runs and a .298 batting average. He and Grichuk each homered and drove in three runs in Monday's win at Cincinnati.
Outfielder Tommy Pham has nine homers, seven steals and a .286 average in 46 games since being called up from Triple-A. As a team, the Cardinals have at least one home run in 15 consecutive games and have totaled 31 round-trippers over that 15-game stretch.
Jeff CurryJeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Bullish on the bullpen
Since the start of June, the D-backs' relief pitchers have compiled a 1.99 ERA -- more than three-quarters of a run better than any team in the majors. (The Red Sox are next at 2.76). Over the past 14 games, the bullpen's ERA is a miniscule 1.03.
Closer Fernando Rodney has not given up an earned run since the start of May and has surrendered only two hits over 17 2/3 innings. . . . Archie Bradley is working on a streak of 12 consecutive scoreless appearances, dating back to May 31, lowering his season ERA to 1.04. . . . And Rubby de La Rosa has given up just one hit and struck out five of the eight batters he's faced since being recalled from Triple-A Reno last week.