Based on the first month of the season, the Arizona Diamondbacks have several starting pitchers that could qualify as the ace of a major-league staff. Despite the stiff competition, Brandon Webb remains the club’s unquestioned No. 1 starter.
Webb looks to match a franchise record by winning his seventh straight start to open the season as the Diamondbacks continue their three-game series against the New York Mets on Saturday at Chase Field.
Arizona (20-9) has the best record in the majors in large part because of its strong starting pitching, which leads the majors with 17 wins and ranks near the top of the NL with a 3.87 ERA and 137 strikeouts thanks to strong first months from Dan Haren, Micah Owings and Randy Johnson.
Webb (6-0, 1.98 ERA), though, has been the most impressive of the group, winning each of his first six starts to become the first Arizona player to do so since Johnson in 2002 during his first stint with the team. With a win over the Mets (15-12), Webb can match the franchise record set by Johnson in 2000.
Arizona’s productive offense hasn’t hurt Webb’s cause. The right-hander is near the top of the league in run support average at 6.59. He didn’t get that much help in his last outing - a duel with reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy - but Webb held San Diego to one unearned run and five hits in six innings of a 2-1 victory.
Webb has a 2.26 ERA in nine career starts against the Mets, but he’s just 2-6 in those games. He had dropped six consecutive decisions against them until snapping the skid with a 5-1 victory on June 1 of last season.
It could be a challenge to get another victory against a New York team that clicked offensively in a 7-2 victory in the series opener on Friday night. The Mets’ top three hitters - Jose Reyes, Ryan Church and David Wright - combined to go 9-for-14 with two home runs, five RBIs and six runs scored.
Reyes has gone 7-for-12 with four walks in his last three games to raise his batting average from .237 to .275 and his on-base percentage from .272 to .328.
“That’s how you’re supposed to play baseball,” Reyes said. “People tell me, when you’re on base something good is going to happen for this team. So I try to get on base.”
The Mets welcomed back outfielder Moises Alou, who made his season debut after missing the first month while recovering from offseason hernia surgery. He was 1-for-3 with one RBI.
“I know that just my presence is going to help this team a lot,” Alou told the Mets’ official Web site. “Besides my presence, I know that I’m going to have a good year again. I always have good years, whether it’s 500 at-bats or 400, 300 at-bats. I’m looking forward to it.”
Alou is 11-for-23 (.478) with two home runs lifetime against Webb.
Mike Pelfrey (2-1, 4.43) will start for the Mets, hoping to bounce back from his first loss of the year. The right-hander gave up five runs and nine hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 6-3 defeat against Atlanta last Friday.
Pelfrey lost his only previous start against Arizona, yielding three runs and three hits in 5 1-3 innings of a 3-1 defeat on May 6, 2007.