Diamondbacks adjust rotation for series with Mariners
PHOENIX — With three of the last nine days off, the Arizona Diamondbacks opted to tweak their starting rotation heading into the meaty final portion of the season that includes eight series against division leaders and/or playoff contenders.
Right-hander Zack Godley was pushed ahead of left-hander Robbie Ray as the Diamondbacks flip-flopped the two before entering a three-game interleague series against American League West contender Seattle on Friday.
Godley will be starting Friday on five days’ rest after an off day Thursday, and Ray will start the second game of the series on seven days’ rest. Zack Greinke is to pitch the series finale on Sunday.
“Whether it be short term or long term, we just thought it was something that we wanted to look at,” Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said.
“We’ll have opportunities to switch back around in a couple of weeks, but we’ll see how this works for a little while.”
Seattle right-hander Erasmo Ramirez (0-2, 5.49 ERA) is scheduled to oppose Godley in the opener on Friday.
Godley (13-6, 4.44) has zoomed past his career high in victories and is on pace to break his career highs in strikeouts, starts and innings in his first full season in the Arizona rotation. His 1.45 WHIP is high, but he has made pitches when he needed to, as opponents are hitting .245 against him with runners in scoring position.
He has benefited from his team averaging 4.8 runs per game in his starts and has won eight of nine decisions in his last 14 appearances. He has not lost since July 1 against San Francisco.
Like Godley, the Diamondbacks (71-56) will enter on a roll. They have won six of seven games to regain first place in the National League West and put a smidge of distance between themselves and the crowded pack in contention for the two NL wild-card berths.
Outfielder David Peralta is in the best stretch of his career, which includes a career-high 25 homers this season. He has homered in three straight games and in nine of his last 17 in a torrid August, during which he is 29-for-68 (.426) with 17 RBIs and a 1.391 OPS.
“I keep saying it, he’s on his way to having a special year,” Lovullo said.
Paul Goldschmidt brings a 14-game hitting streak into the series, during which he is 26-for-58 (.448) with six doubles, five homers and 13 RBIs. He has 29 homers, and his two-run shot in the first inning of a 5-1 victory over the Angels on Wednesday was his franchise-record 96th at Chase Field. Goldschmidt leads the NL with 263 total bases (not including the Dodgers’ Manny Machado, who played most of this season in Baltimore).
The Mariners (72-56) have won 14 of the previous 24 meetings between the teams, although they have not played since July 27-29, 2015, when the Diamondbacks swept a three-game series at Safeco Field.
Godley beat the Mariners 8-4 in the second game of the series in his second major league start, and he has not faced them since. The Diamondbacks took two of three games the last time met in Arizona in 2012.
After sweeping a four-game road series against NL West leader Houston two weeks ago, Seattle has dropped six of nine game to fall 5 1/2 games behind Houston in the division while losing series to Oakland, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Astros.
They trail the Yankees and Oakland in the AL wild-card chase while starting a nine-game road trip Friday that concludes with four games in Oakland on Labor Day weekend.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t put it together,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters after a 10-7 loss to the Astros on Wednesday. “To beat the good teams, they’re not going to fold. You got to play a complete game and do it on both sides of the ball.”
No. 1 starter James Paxton is on the disabled list with forearm swelling and will miss the series in Arizona, but the Mariners are hoping he can return for Oakland.
Robinson Cano has a five-game hitting streak and has hit safely in seven of eight games since he returned from suspension on Aug. 14. He has three doubles, a homer and three RBIs in that stretch.
Cano made his first career start at third base on Wednesday, when he hit his 525th career double, tied with Ted Williams for 45th in major league history.
Ramirez has put together back-to-back good outings since joining the rotation on Aug. 12, even though he has not received a decision in two Mariners victories.
He gave up one run and three hits in five innings against the Dodgers last Saturday after giving up three hits in five scoreless innings in a no-decision at Houston on Aug. 12. He allowed seven homers in 9 2/3 innings of his first two starts of the season in April before missing four months with a shoulder injury.
With the Tampa Bay Rays, Ramirez made two career appearances against the Diamondbacks and is 0-0 with a 6.00 ERA. He pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the most recent appearance in 2016.