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Preview: Game #131, Diamondbacks vs. Padres

The debut of Ian Kennedy and the return of David Holmbe... No, wait. The other way round. So many story-lines tonight...



Ian Kennedy
RHP, 5-9, 4.88

David Holmberg
LHP, 0-0, N/A

Diamondbacks line-up

  1. Tony Campana, CF
  2. Adam Eaton, LF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
  4. Martin Prado, 3B
  5. Aaron Hill, 2B
  6. Gerardo Parra, RF
  7. Miguel Montero, C
  8. Didi Gregorius, SS
  9. David Holmberg, P

Having swapped recaps with 'charmer yesterday, I think I may have got lucky, and certainly have the feeling there won't be any shortage of things to write about in this game, win or lose. Even without the major-league debut of one of our top pitching prospects, we would have the return of Ian Kennedy to Chase Field, less than a month after he was traded to the Padres. Since then, he has pretty much covered the breadth of performances, with Game Scores for his starts ranging from 33 to 74. The bottom line is a very-respectable 3.20, and it's safe to say that if he'd give us that level of performance, he wouldn't have been traded.

However, it's a number which comes with a trio of significant caveats: small sample size of just four starts, only one of those appearances was away from Petco (a park certainly more friendly than Chase to a fly-ball pitcher like Kennedy), and a .222 BABIP, which is in unsustainable territory. His peripherals have continued to be weak, particularly a high walk-rate of 13 in 24.1 innings, though he has struck out close to a batter per inning with San Diego. Kennedy's FIP since being dealt is 4.73, which is actually higher than his number with us this year (4.58), so if his ERA wouldn't mind regressing this evening, we'd appreciate it.

Curious to see what kind of reaction he gets at Chase Field. I suspect it'll be fairly apathetic, though that will likely be partly due to the light attendance (last night's crowd of 16,871 was the lowest home crowd since June 2011). Even beyond that, Kennedy was never a divisive figure in the same way as Justin Upton. While his struggles this year were certainly annoying, there were other, better magnets for fan ire, earning larger salaries than Kennedy, who is pulling less than $4.3 million for 2013. All told, a 48-34 record, 105 ERA+ and no blots on his fan friendliness record of which I'm aware, will probably get him a pass, and perhaps a polite ripple.

I don't think it's coincidence Holmberg has been promoted to start against IPK. It seems kinda like an "out with the old, in with the new" statement by the club. Overall, Holmberg doesn't generally seem to be seen as a future ace, more in the "durable innings eater" mold of pitcher. He has a broad arsenal, with his best the off-speed stuff; the change-up is generally seen as his top pitch, some reports also giving him a curve that could flummox a lot of hitters. Those are set up by a fastball reported to possess late life, cutting in to right-handed hitters: it's around 90 mph, which isn't notable, but probably enough for a leftie. See John's report from about a year ago for more details.