Arizona Diamondbacks (4-5)
@ San Francisco Giants (3-7)
This will be the second series against the Giants. The Giants lost three games in a row to the Padres, and then were swept by the Rockies. They will be feeling down when this series starts. In contrast, the Diamondbacks are exceeding the low expectations. There is some truth to preston.salisury's comment, "I’d say this year’s team is playing with more energy." I am confident that the Diamondbacks will win more games than the first series. Let's look at the upcoming series.
Will the Giants score 5 runs or more every game, like they did in the first series? Can they continue to rely on their hot hitters? So far this season, based on home runs and RBI’s, their hot hitters are Brandon Crawford, Casey McGehee, and Buster Posey. On 11 April, McGehee suffered a left knee bone bruise, so he is day-to-day and may not be at 100% in this series. On 14 April, Posey did not start due to a tight neck. Cooling off these three talented threats would be terrific!
The Diamondbacks offense has averaged 4 runs per game. Nevertheless, Shoewizard's fanpost made it clear that during the first six games, the Diamondbacks were seriously out-hit at Chase field. Diamondbacks hit 9 less doubles and 3 less home runs. My question is, "How can the Diamondbacks pick up the pace?" I see two answers. First, increase the On-Base-Percentages of Chris Owings and Aaron Hill. Their OBP's are half as much as the other non-pitchers. Second, unleash Trumbo. With no homeruns and only 3 RBIs, Trumbo is having some difficulty showing he is a power hitter. If he can figure out how to fix it, it will help the Diamondbacks very much. Noteworthy is that the Diamondback clutch hitting is better than the Giants.
Diamondback pitching needs more quality starts and less runs allowed. This season, quality starts are like wrapping a win with duck tape because the Diamondbacks bullpen will almost never let a win escape. Archie Bradley, Rubby De La Rosa, and Chase Anderson are the only Diamondback pitchers with a quality start. Because two of them will pitch this series, we can check the first box. The next improvement is less runs allowed. As I stated previously, we have consistently allowed the Giants a lot of runs every game this season! This time could well be different. Archie Bradley allowed no runs in his last game. Josh Collmenter and Rubby De La Rosa each improved greatly their second game. For his series, we can check the second box, too.
Thursday. Archie Bradley (0.00 Earned Run Average(ERA), 9.0 Strike Outs per 9 Innings(SO/9), 1 Quality Start(QS)) vs Madison Bumgardener (5.40 ERA, 6.3 SO/9, 1 QS). This will be a great pitching duel. Think of it as the ace of the future (Bradley) against the larger-than-life ace (Bumgardener). While Bradley is coming off an impressive shutout victory, Bumgardener struggled for three innings in his last outing. Nevertheless, I expect Bumgardener to bounce back and make this a real battle. Outpitching Bumgardener would be a tall feather in Bradley’s cap!
Friday. Josh Collmenter (6.52 ERA, 4.7 SO/9, 0 QS) vs Jake Peavy (9.00 ERA, 11.3 SO/9, 0 QS). Jake Peavy has had lower back spasms and this will be his second start of the season. In his first start he pitched 4 innings. In this game, will he pitch full throttle? Josh Collmenter's ERA will likely return to 2014 levels, which will be an improvement. After both starters leave the game, if the Diamondbacks have the lead, I am confident that the Diamondback bullpen will prevail.
Saturday. Rubby De La Rosa (7.15 ERA, 7.9 SO/9, 1 QS) vs Chris Heston (0.69 ERA, 6.9 SO/9, 2 QS). De La Rosa' control is unpredictable. Maybe he pitches better this time, and maybe he doesn’t. My intuition is he will pitch better! Even so, he faces a challenging matchup. Heston's first two games were impressive.
Sunday. Jeremy Hellickson (6.55 ERA, 6.5 SO/9, 0 QS) vs Tim Hudson (2.03 ERA, 3.4 SO/9, 2 QS). This will be another challenging matchup. Tim Hudson's first game was 6.1 shutout innings. Jeremy Hellickson's first game was 4.1 innings pitched with 3 earned runs. There is reason for Diamondback hope - Tim Hudson turns 40 years old in July, and had ankle surgery this winter.
When the Diamondbacks win a close game, I subjectively identify the players who made the biggest impact. In the first week of the season, there were seven impact players.
Pitchers: Andrew Chafin, Addison Reed, and Oliver Perez.
Hitters: Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt, and Ender Inciarte.
The pleasant surprise is Jake Lamb has 7 RBIs, and is in sixth place for MLB leader in run expectancy (14 April). I will be cheering wildly for these players! Perhaps my efforts will be rewarded with wins and tacos!
Based on wins so far, and projecting future games based on runs scored and allowed, the Diamondbacks are on pace for 80.5 wins this season. I am more than pleased! The numbers confirm my optimistic prediction of 78 wins this season!
In two weeks I will relook at this projection. Meanwhile, this second series against the Giants will be well worth watching, and I will be disappointed if our Diamondbacks walk away with less than two wins.
Food of the Series
In San Francisco, Baron Makoto Hagiwara served fortune cookies at his Japanese Tea Garden starting in the late 1890s. Although originally a Japanese food, fortune cookies were "invented" by the Baron. Only later did they become Chinese fortune cookies. For this series, my snack of choice is fortune cookies because destiny favors the stealthy Diamondbacks!