Series Preview #26, vs. San Francisco Giants

Thearon W. Henderson

The Diamondbacks' chances of climbing out of the NL West cellar are slipping, and they try to reverse their fortune by wrapping up their home stand against the first-place San Francisco Giants.

What's New?

Arizona's four-game set against the Milwaukee Brewers was marred by both controversy and disappointment, as the Diamondbacks would drop three of the four games. In the opener, Arizona looked to be in a position to win after starter Brandon McCarthy gave them seven innings while giving up just three runs, but the bullpen imploded for six runs over the final two innings in the 9-3 loss. On Tuesday night, the Diamondbacks jumped out to an early lead, only to give it up as Evan Marshall plunked Ryan Braun (and was subsequently ejected), opening the door for Jonathan Lucroy to launch a go-ahead grand slam in a 7-5 loss. Arizona wasn't going down without a fight, however, as outfielder Tony Campana (freshly recalled from Triple-A Reno) picked up the walk-off base hit for the 4-3 Arizona win. On Friday afternoon, nobody could get anything off of Milwaukee starter Yovani Gallardo, as he gave up a run on five hits over seven innings in the 4-1 Brewers win.

Arizona has scored the 12th-most runs in baseball this season (308), averaging 4.11 runs per game while batting .257/.309/.402 as a unit. They're actually a top ten offense at home, scoring the eighth-most runs in baseball there (160) for an average of 4.10 runs per game and hitting at a clip of .262/.316/.415. Arizona has the third-worst statistical pitching staff in baseball, posting a 4.50 team ERA and yielding a .269 batting average and posting just 30 quality starts this season. Their ERA inflates even more when at hitter-friendly Chase Field, going up to 4.66 and yielding a .270 batting average. Arizona has gone 3-7 in their last ten games, and look to wrap up their (disappointing) seven-game home stand at Chase Field, where they are 13-27 this season. They're 31-45 overall this season, 14 games behind San Francisco for first place in the NL West. They are just one and a half game back from Colorado for fourth place in the NL West.

San Francisco's resurgence in 2014 has largely been a result of something that was once stagnant in the Bay Area: offense. The Giants have scored the tenth-most runs in baseball (313), scoring 4.29 runs per game while batting at a .253/.313/.405 clip as a unit. They're solid on the road, averaging 4.40 runs per game while batting .240/.307/.401 as a unit. However, the Giants still make their name through their strong pitching. Their 3.40 team ERA ranks seventh in the majors, as they have posted 38 quality starts and held opposing batters to a .240 batting average. They remain solid when on the road, posting a 3.61 ERA and holding batters to a .253 batting average, which is good for seventh in the majors.

The Giants are in the midst of their worst stretch of the season, going 2-8 in their last ten games and losing their last five games overall. They are 0-2 on this current road trip after getting swept in their last series by the Chicago White Sox. Despite their recent struggles, the Giants have played well (20-14) on the road this season en route to a 43-29 record overall, good enough for first place in the NL West. They have the third-best record in baseball this season, and are four games ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers for first place in their division.

On The Mend

Diamondbacks right hander Bronson Arroyo was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career Tuesday. According to FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder, Arroyo was diagnosed with a sprained right UCL. He is expected to let it rest for ten days then be reevaluated.

Giants outfielder Angel Pagan is currently listed as day-to-day after receiving an epidural injection in his back. According to John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, Pagan will not play Friday night, but is expected to be in the lineup "soon thereafter".

Roster Moves

On Saturday, the Diamondbacks selected the contract of right hander Matt Stites from Triple-A Reno; in a resulting move, the Diamondbacks optioned outfielder Tony Campana (who hit a walk-off the night before) to Triple A Reno.

Under The Radar: Michael Morse

The offseason is a time for big splashes and high profile signings. While only a few of these big signings work out, every summer a few under the radar signings make an impact and turn around teams' seasons. This summer, there hasn't been a signing that has held more value than the Giants' signing of outfielder Michael Morse.

After being seen as solely a power hitter throughout his career, Morse underwent a disappointing 2013 campaign, hitting .215/.270/.381 with 13 home runs and 27 RBIs over 88 games with Seattle and Baltimore. But, he has emerged as a leader at the center of the Giants' revamped lineup, batting .289/.343/.533 through his first 71 games in a Giants uniform. His signing has been huge on a six million dollar contract, as he leads the team in home runs, RBIs, and OPS.

Morse's signing has led to the Giants' offense going from being an afterthought to a power, and in first place in the NL West.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1, Friday 6:40 PT: RHP Tim Lincecum (5-4, 4.81 ERA, 4.18 FIP) vs. RHP Josh Collmenter (4-4, 4.05 ERA, 4.31 FIP)

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson would be smart to put first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup against Giants starter Tim Lincecum. Goldschmidt is 13 for 24 (.542) with seven home runs and 17 RBIs off of Lincecum lifetime. Lincecum gave up two earned runs on three hits over six innings in picking up a no decision in his last start against Colorado. Collmenter has struggled of late, picking up a loss in his last two starts and giving up six earned runs over six innings in his last start against the Dodgers.

Game 2, Saturday 7:10 PT: RHP Ryan Vogelsong (4-3, 3.94 ERA, 3.69 FIP) vs. RHP Brandon McCarthy (1-9, 5.18 ERA, 4.10 FIP)

Vogelsong has turned it up as of late, and gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings in picking up the no decision in his last start against the Rockies. He has struggled on the road this season, going 2-1 with a 4.88 ERA in six starts outside of AT&T Park this season. McCarthy is winless since May 3rd, and gave up three runs over seven innings in picking up the no decision in his last start against Milwaukee.

Game 3, Sunday 1:10 PT: LHP Madison Bumgarner (8-4, 2.85 ERA, 2.82 FIP) vs. RHP Mike Bolsinger (1-2, 5.70 ERA, 4.63 FIP)

Bumgarner has been the ace of the Giants' staff this season, dominating his opponents to stake his case to start for the National League in the All-Star Game. He had some issues in his last start, giving up four runs on six hits over seven innings in a no decision against Colorado. Bolsinger is back in the majors after right hander Bronson Arroyo was sent to the disabled list, and in his first start back gave up three runs on seven hits over six innings in a no decision against the Brewers.

Series Pick'em

Even with the Giants' recent struggles, I only see Arizona taking one of the three games (which would result in a 2-5 home stand overall) in this series. I think that Arizona has Lincecum's number, and that Collmenter can put together a solid start to give Arizona a chance to win. While Vogelsong has struggled compared to his production in recent years, his struggles have been nothing compared to those of Brandon McCarthy this season. When it comes to rookies on the Diamondbacks roster, perhaps none has been as inconsistent as Bolsinger, while Bumgarner has been an All-Star.

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