D-backs host Giants with postseason on their minds

PHOENIX -- The National League wild-card game is squarely in the Diamondbacks' sights, and Arizona manager Torey Lovullo and his group have begun to consider roster composition.

It is not easy as it might seem.

The roster for the winner-take-all, one-game playoff requires a one-game mindset, almost diametrically opposed to the way a roster is built for the regular season and altogether new to Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen, who while with the Boston Red Sox always was able to go directly to the American League Division Series.

So much to consider.

How many starting pitchers to carry?

Is there room for a pinch runner?

What if a game goes 18 innings?

Does the opposing matchup require another left-hander (or two) in the bullpen?

Typically, teams have played the game with 10 pitchers and 15 position players. But not always.

"It's confusing to me, I'm not going to lie," Lovullo said candidly. "What we are talking about and walking through right now is so new to all of us, we're throwing things around at one another trying to figure things out as a staff. It's such a new ingredient to us."

Arizona (91-67) got another day closer to the wild card game with a 11-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Tuesday, evening the series at a game apiece.

Right-hander Braden Shipley, starting as Arizona attempts to line up Zack Greinke for the Oct. 4 wild-card game, will oppose Giants right-hander Jeff Samardzija in the series finale Wednesday afternoon.

Arizona has not announced a Sunday starter, in large part because of wild-card considerations.

Left-handers Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin would have enough rest to start Sunday, but the D-backs might eschew both -- or piggy-back them; they have considered those alternative and others -- in order to have another left-hander or two ready for a critical situation in the one-and-done game.

Left-handers Andrew Chafin, Jorge De La Rosa and T.J. McFarland have been used out of the bullpen this season, but Ray might be the best option if a strikeout is needed.

Ray is averaging 12.2 strikeouts per nine innings after getting five in five innings Tuesday, when he went five innings for his 15th victory. The shorter stint was designed to save pitches.

"We want to see what happens with the second wild-card team," Lovullo said. "We just want to make sure we have the exact pieces we need for (next) Wednesday's game ready to go. We don't want to expire anybody on that day. We have spent a lot of time paying attention to really, really important details."

The D-backs also plan to use the final week of the regular season in an attempt to get a handle on the relief group in front of setup man Archie Bradley and closer Fernando Rodney. Bradley has a 1.38 ERA, and Rodney has 39 saves.

"These guys have to go out and perform," Lovullo said of his relievers. "That's the nature of this business. These guys know when they get the ball, they're going to have to go out and do their jobs."

Rookie right-hander Jimmie Sherfy has made 11 consecutive scoreless appearances since being recalled from Triple-A Reno in late August. He tied a major league record by not allowing a baserunner in his first four appearances, which included his first major league victory and his first major league save.

Chafin and De La Rosa appear to be locks to make the wild-card roster.

Bradley threw 1 2/3 innings and was stretched out to 38 pitches Tuesday, longer than his typical outing since settling into the setup role in May.

"We're trying to prepare in every way that we possibly can, in every scenario that might come up, in a one-game, all-in moment," Lovullo said. "We were trying to extend Archie."

Shipley is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in nine appearances (two starts) this season. His past seven appearances came out of the bullpen, and he has allowed only one run in his past 4 2/3 innings. He has made one career appearance against the Giants, in relief in 2016, when he gave up three runs in 3 2/3 innings.

Samardzija is 9-15 with a 4.51 ERA this season, including 1-3, 5.13 in four starts against the Diamondbacks. He will enter his final start of the season ranked second in the National League with 201 2/3 innings, the fourth straight year he has exceeded 200. He is sixth in the league with 201 strikeouts. His career high is 214, set with the Chicago Cubs in 2013.

In 16 career games (11 starts) against Arizona, Samardzija is 3-4 with a 4.32 ERA. He is coming off a rough outing Friday at Dodger Stadium, where he allowed four runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

The Giants (62-96) need one win in their final four games to avoid the second 100-loss season in franchise history. Left-hander Matt Moore (6-15) absorbed the latest defeat, allowing eight runs (seven earned) in 1 1/3 innings Tuesday. He established a career high for defeats.

"This is baseball," Moore said. "It can teach you some tough lessons sometimes if you are hard-headed."
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