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Opening Day Preview: 4/6, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. San Francisco Giants

All the talking, the discussion and the speculation now takes a back seat. For the 2015 season opens this evening at Chase Field for the Arizona Diamondbacks, as they take on the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Madison Bumgarner
LHP, 0-0, N/A
Josh Collmenter
RHP, 0-0, N/A
Norichika Aoki - LF A.J. Pollock - CF
Joe Panik - 2B Ender Inciarte - LF
Angel Pagan - CF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Buster Posey - C Mark Trumbo - RF
Brandon Belt - 1B Aaron Hill - 3B
Casey McGehee - 3B Chris Owings - 2B
Brandon Crawford - SS Tuffy Gosewisch - C
Gregor Blanco - RF Nick Ahmed - SS
Madison Bumgarner - LHP Josh Collmenter - RHP

It has not been a good season for "obvious" aces thus far. Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw all came away from their debuts without a W. Hopefully that trend will continue in Phoenix this evening, with the World Series MVP taking on a guy who at this point last season was working long relief. As has already been discussed, the gap in the starters' overall performance is likely nowhere near as big as the national media seem to think, and Collmenter has been unjustly overlooked and outperformed expectations, pretty much his entire career, since being a 15th-round pick in 2007. So this is just another chance to prove the doubters wrong.

That said, this certainly looks likely to be the toughest test of the re-tooled Arizona offense this series: there's a reason Bumgarner was MVP, and his 2014 season was another solid one. That's the way he has been: until last post-season, quietly effective, and largely under the radar, while some far larger contracts crashed and burned for the Giants e.g. Barry Zito, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. Bumgarner and Cliff Lee are the only NL players to have put up 200+ innings with an ERA+ of 100 or better, in each of the past four seasons. [In case you're wondering, Clayton Kershaw fell five outs short last season].

To no-one's surprise, the D-backs go with as heavy a right-handed approach as possible. In his career, Bumgarner has held lefties to a .564 OPS. Right-handers haven't exactly lit him up, but at .681, the difference is clear. Pollock has the best numbers versus him, a .945 OPS, with Hill also doing well, at .896. At the other end, Mark Trumbo has a single in eight ABs, with no walks and four strikeouts. Time to change that? Collmenter lifetime is 5-2 with a 3.17 ERA against San Francisco; that's in seven starts plus eleven relief appearances. Buster Posey is the main problem, owning Josh like Goldie owns Timmeh: 11-for-18 with three homers and no K's in 20 PAs. Ouch.

Random notes
  • Randy Johnson will throw out the first pitch, former commissioner Bud Selig will also be honored, and American Idol winner Taylor Hicks will sing the National Anthem, before the traditional fly-over by a pair of F-16's from Luke Air Force base.
  • The D-backs are 6-1 in their last 7 Opening Day games and are 10-7 all-time (.588), the third-best pct. in MLB. They start the season facing off against a defending World Series champion for the first time in club history.
  • 10 of Arizona's 25 players on its roster are considered "home grown," including 5 of tonight's starters (Collmenter, Inciarte, Goldschmidt, Pollock and Owings). 11 have been acquired by trade, 3 were signed as Minor League free agents and 1 was inked as a Major League free agent.
  • Bob Brenly, current D-backs broadcaster, is the last manager to win a World Series in his rookie season. He's the fourth overall. the other three being the Senators' Buddy Harris in 1924, Cardinals' Eddie Dyer in 1946 and Yankees' Ralph Houk in 1961.