The Diamondbacks consistence in playing average baseball is not the goal of any baseball team.
Which is why seven of the next eight series the D-backs play, five of which are at home, are of the utmost importance.
“This will determine where we stand come the trading deadline,” D-backs GM Mike Hazen told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf Wednesday.
That stretch, which includes the Rockies and Dodgers twice, the Giants, the Cardinals and the Brewers, features either all playoff contenders whose standing directly affects the D-backs’ or division rivals.
“For the next four weeks, we are going to play our direct competition,” Hazen said.
“We need to create ground.”
If the D-backs don’t, or “tread water” as Hazen said, then the team will likely be inactive or possibly selling at the trade deadline, which is 10 days after the conclusion of the series with the Brewers.
But winning those series, and creating ground, means winning at home, something that has plagued the D-backs not only this season but last year as well. The team is playing above .500 on the road while falling below the threshold at home, and is the only one in baseball to currently hold that mark. They rank 23rd in home record at 14-17 while having a 24-19 record away from Chase Field, seventh-best in baseball.
“We can’t put our finger on it,” he said.
“Any good team has to be able to play well at home, and for whatever reason, we have just not done that. We have discussed it internally a number of different times. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s something we need to improve upon. There’s no reason why teams should be able to come in here and play against us the way they do.”
Hazen said he doesn’t believe the team isn’t focused or has off-the-field distractions.
“That’s not something we deal with [or] have dealt with over the last couple of years,” he said. “I don’t think that’s part of the issue. These guys are really focused. They’re here extremely early. They work extremely hard. They’re very much dedicated.”
He also said the team has looked into whether it is Chase Field itself that is causing an impact on the team’s hitting.
The D-backs hit much worse at home (.235) than they do on the road (.272). Their slugging percentage drops almost 80 points (.490 to .410) when coming home, and the team has hit 42 more home runs on the road, though that could be slightly impacted by the fact that the D-backs have played 12 more games on the road than at home.
“We haven’t hit as well at home, but the road teams have hit fine coming here, so that’s not something that we can sit there and point to,” he said.
But by July 31st, the D-backs will have to have an answer. And whether it be to the home issues or as to whether the team can hold itself against their top competitors, the answer will be there.