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D-backs have Wild Card spot in their sights

Three takeaways from Arizona's series win over Washington
@SteveGilbertMLB
August 4, 2019

PHOENIX -- And just like that, the D-backs are back at the .500 mark. Arizona beat the Nationals, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field to grab two of three games in the series at Chase Field, pulling it within 2 1/2 games of Washington and Philadelphia for the second

PHOENIX -- And just like that, the D-backs are back at the .500 mark.

Arizona beat the Nationals, 7-5, on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field to grab two of three games in the series at Chase Field, pulling it within 2 1/2 games of Washington and Philadelphia for the second National League Wild Card spot.

Box score

Here are three takeaways from the series:

1) Reports of Arizona's demise were greatly exaggerated

The D-backs traded ace Zack Greinke on Wednesday at the Trade Deadline, and despite some bold talk from players in the clubhouse about how the front office actually kept the core of the team intact to make a run at the postseason this year, the first game of the Nats series didn’t reflect that.

Somehow, the D-backs managed just one hit -- an infield single by starter Alex Young -- in the 3-0 loss. Nationals starter Joe Ross walked five batters in the first three innings, but Arizona could not find a way to push across a run.

Yet one day later, the D-backs rebounded to score 18 runs. Granted, seven of them came when a pair of position players were pitching for the Nats, but they also scored nine against Stephen Strasburg to win 18-7.

Then on Sunday, the offense scored five runs on seven hits (with one inside-the-park homer from Ketel Marte) and three walks against Patrick Corbin.

“It just shows that we’re professionals,” said outfielder Adam Jones, who drove home four runs. “Most people [complain] about things like that and don’t know how to turn the page, but that’s why we’re here and that’s why we’re in the Major Leagues.”

2) Maybe the six-man rotation stays?

On the same day they traded Greinke, the D-backs acquired right-handed starters Mike Leake and Zac Gallen, giving them six starters, including Robbie Ray, Merrill Kelly, Young and Taylor Clarke.

The organization decided to go with a six-man rotation this time through while trying to make a decision on who would be the odd man out, presumably between rookies Young and Clarke.

Young delivered a gem in the opening game of the Nationals series, and he has a 2.60 ERA over seven games (six starts).

Clarke, who had hit a rough patch, has rebounded in his last three starts, including Sunday when he gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings. But he had settled in and likely could have pitched deeper had D-backs manager Torey Lovullo elected not to go to the bullpen.

Lovullo was asked after the game if the team might stick with a six-man rotation at least one more time through.

“We have some tough conversations and tough decisions to make, and we’re going to try and walk through them the best way we can,” Lovullo said. “I don’t know that answer right now, but I love the way these guys are taking the baseball under some very difficult circumstances. They know there are six for five, but they’re blocking that out.”

3) Archie Bradley may be the closer

Weeks ago, some commentators and fans were calling for Bradley to be dispatched to Triple-A Reno to work through his struggles.

All along, the D-backs' front office maintained that the right-hander’s best chance of again being the dominant reliever he was in 2017 was for him to stay in the big leagues and work with the Major League staff.

Over his last 14 1/3 innings, Bradley has not allowed a run, and with the recent struggles of Greg Holland, it looks like he might end up getting upcoming save opportunities.

“I know that everybody wants me to say that he is officially our closer, but I don’t want to put that on these guys right now," Lovullo said. "Those guys are throwing the ball pretty good, especially Archie, so we’ll keep it as is. He’s going to get the baseball at the back end of the game. Sometimes he might have to close a game in the eighth, I don’t know. We’ll see."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.