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It has been two sides of a completely different story between the Arizona Diamondbacks (73-68) and the Chicago Cubs (76-65), especially in the second half of the 2023 MLB Season. Both the Diamondbacks and Cubs are serious competitors in the NL Playoff chase, most likely for the NL Wildcard. The Diamondbacks are a team that started hot but has since fizzled into a team that is falling in the NL Wildcard rankings. The Cubs was a team that was in the middle of the NL Central. Within the past few weeks, the Cubs have become one of the sneakiest teams in the NL.
The Diamondbacks were looking the average competitor in the NL West at the beginning of the season. Over the course of a few weeks and months, the young talent on the roster soon became one of the hottest teams in the West, replacing the highly anticipated San Diego Padres.
Arizona showed much of a serious team they were when they won nine of their 11 games from the middle to late May. Throughout the first half of the regular season, the Diamondbacks were the team to beat in the NL West.
The Diamondbacks entered the 2023 MLB All-Star Break with an overall record of 52-39. The second half of the season has been tough for the young team as their productivity in the batting, fielding, and pitching game took a significant hit. The Diamondbacks have accounted for a 21-29 run through the second half of the season going into Friday.
This is a team that has historically not been great. It is uncommon to see multiple players on the roster be named to the MLB All-Star Game. This year, Arizona had three players in rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll, outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and pitcher Zac Gallen named to the All-Star roster.
The Cubs might be one of the most unknown teams in the MLB this season. There is not a lot a huge presence of star talent and yet, the Cubs find themselves very much in control of their destiny in regards to the NL Central Divisional title and the NL Playoffs.
Not much was expected of the Cubs this 2023 MLB Season and it showed in the early portions of the season. The Cubs opened with a 2-3 start, losing to divisional rivalries before accounting for surprising wins over the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners, and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
As the month of May started, the Cubs found themselves in a consistent basis of under .500%. On June 8th, the Cubs lost at the Los Angeles Angels 3-1 to account for a 26-36 overall record. After that game, the Cubs managed to win nine of their next 11 games to get only one game under .500% at 37-38.
The Cubs went into the 2023 MLB All-Star Break with an overall record of 42-47. In the second half of the season, the Cubs became one of the most productive teams in the league. The Cubs managed to account for an overall record of 34-18 so far through the second half of the season.
There were not many expectations of this young Diamondbacks team due to the top-heavy talent of the NL West. Over a few weeks in, the Diamondbacks have shown they keep up with the Los Angeles Dodgers in terms of production and wins.
Much of the season's success can go to the heavy production of players like first baseman Christian Walker, leftfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and rookie outfielder Corbin Carroll, who all have accounted for 23 home runs this season. Four batters this season have accounted for a batting average of .273 or more.
Carroll has been the star of this team as he is dominating the odds to be named NL Rookie of the Year, according to DraftKings. Going into Friday's game two against the Cubs, Carroll has accounted for a team-high 102 runs, 136 hits, 26 double-base hits, 24 home runs, 68 RBIs, a team-high 42 stolen bases, 52 walks, 17 strikeouts, a batting average of .281, an on-base percentage of .362, a slugging percentage of .521 and an OPS of .883.
As a team, the Diamondbacks are ranked sixth in the NL in runs accounted for (663), eighth in hits accounted for (1201), fourth in double-base hits accounted for (247), first in triple-base hits accounted for (38), ninth in home runs accounted for (156), second in stolen bases (138), ninth in walks (464), second in strikeouts encountered (1093), eighth in batting average (.253), eighth in on-base percentage (.324), fifth in slugging percentage (.420) and sixth in OPS (.744).
One area that has been holding the Diamondbacks back in multiple games and multiple series is the lack of overall consistency in the pitching game. There have been several solid pitchers who have helped the team to get a competitive spot for the NL Playoffs, but it was their pitching that caused them a tough fall in the second half of the season.
Among the best-starting pitchers for Arizona this season are Zac Gallen (3.48 ERA in 178.2 innings pitched) and Merrill Kelly (3.22 ERA in 148.1 innings pitched).
As a team, the Diamondbacks are ranked 11th in the NL in ERA (4.61), 11th in hits allowed (1210), 11th in runs allowed (677), 11thin home runs allowed (172), ninth in walks allowed (457) and 11th in strikeouts delivered (1168).
Merrill Kelly is set to be the starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks on Saturday against the Cubs.
It wasn't long ago that the Cubs were a team that was consisting finding themselves back in the NL Playoffs due to a solid balance of batting, fielding and pitching. The Cubs were a team that didn't have the stars come and play, but they were able to make a solid free-agent class this past season to become leaders of their own team.
This season, the Cubs have a selection of impact players at the plate which has them rely on only one or two major stars. The Cubs have five players who have accounted for over 115 hits this season. They have four players that have accounted for a batting average of .270 or better.
Centerfielder Cody Bellinger and shortstop Dansby Swanson are two players who came as free agents to lead their own team. Bellinger has had an incredible first season with the Cubs as he has accounted for 135 hits, 84 runs, 24 double-base hits, 24 home runs, 86 RBIs, 19 stolen bases, 32 walks, only 74 strikeouts, a batting average of .320, an on-base percentage of .364 and a slugging percentage of .552.
As a team, the Cubs are ranked third in the NL in runs accounted for (718), sixth in hits accounted for (1213), seven in home runs accounted for (170), third in stolen bases (118), fourth in walks (492), 10th strikeouts encountered (1231), sixth in batting average (.254), third in on-base percentage (.329) and fifth in slugging percentage (.420).
The Cubs are not one of the best pitching teams in the league, but they have been good enough to endure multiple series and get better as the season progressed. They have a great combination of solid starting pitchers, replacement pitchers, and closing pitchers.
As a team, the Cubs are ranked sixth in the NL in ERA (4.06), eighth in hits allowed (1152), eighth in runs allowed (621), sixth in home runs allowed (156), fifth in walks allowed (432) and 10th in strikeouts delivered.
Justin Steele (2.55 ERA in 152 innings pitched), the team's ace pitcher, is set to be the starting pitcher for the Cubs on Saturday against the Diamondbacks.
The Over/Under is set at 7.5 points on Saturday, which is the lowest-scoring game projected by FanDuel. This suggests that the Diamondbacks and Cubs matchup is going to be established by the stellar pitching units on Saturday. The under is the most likely outcome because both teams have incredible talent starting at the mound.
|Arizona Diamondbacks||Head-to-Head||Chicago Cubs|
Gabriel Moreno (.282)
Cody Bellinger (.320)
Christian Walker (30)
Cody Bellinger (24)
Christian Walker (91)
Cody Bellinger (86)
Geraldo Perdomo (.368)
Cody Bellinger (.364)
Ketel Marte (140)
Nico Hoerner (153)
Zac Gallen (14)
Justin Steele (16)
Kevin Ginkel (2.34)
Justin Steele (2.55)
Zac Gallen (186)
Justin Steele (153)
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Michael Hanich is a sports journalist/analyst with a wide variety of experience in the newspaper and digital field. He has a love for all sports. The leagues that he covers are College Football, the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, College Basketball (men’s and women’s), the MLB, Lacrosse, Volleyball, and the WNBA.More info on Michael Hanich
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