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Series Preview #20: Diamondbacks vs. Giants

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With the best offense in the National League, can the Diamondbacks start a run for the post-season?

John Moore/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks (27-32)

@ San Francisco Giants(34-26)

Aaahhh, the Naha stone was heavy. It could not be moved. Many tried. Many failed. Yet their quests were worthy of legend. The legend told us that the man who moves the Naha Stone will unite the Hawaiian Islands. Negative comments about his bloodline created doubt in King Kamehameha’s mind. Doubt can be like having a strange face, it only matters if you let it. He ignored his doubt.

King Kamehameha moved the stone! Was he showing off when he overturned the stone, or did he surprise himself? King Kamehameha united the islands through a series of hard fought battles. Thursday of this week is King Kamehameha day – a holiday for Hawaii and a day off for the Diamondbacks.

Can the Diamondbacks ignore their doubts? Will they move the stone and qualify for the post-season? They can! Why not this year? Ha!

Offense

How are the Giants hitting compared to pre-season expectations? Three players have started slow - Pence, Pagan, and McGehee(optioned to AAA on May 26, recalled to majors on 5 June). Two players are on-target – Belt and Posey. Three players are hitting home runs at double the expected pace – Nori Aoki, Brandon Crawford, and Joe Panik. Most remarkable is second baseman Joe Panik because he is 24 years old and this season is his second in the majors. His OPS+ is 147.

The Diamondback offense is first in the National League in runs, second in hits and stolen bases, and third in batting average. This offense is clearly the best in the National League. Because Mark Trumbo is now a Mariner, expectations are that Yasmany Tomas, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta will pick up the slack to support Paul Goldschmidt. Preston Salisbury's fanpost convinced me that while our cleanup hitters are good enough to score runs, the leadoff and #2 hitters need better on-base percentages. My take is because every player can contribute, successful offense is a team effort. In that spirit, let me draw your attention to Jerrod Saltalamacchia's and Welington Castillo's first home runs as Diamondbacks.

Pitching

In the last two weeks, the Deserved Run Average (DRA) worsened for Archie Bradley (now on DL), Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson, and Rubby De La Rosa. Robbie Ray joins the list in the top spot! Let’s look at the starting pitchers’ DRAs and ERAs.

pitcher DRA ERA
Robbie Ray 2.72 1.53
Chase Anderson 3.37 3.12
Daniel Hudson 3.73 3.51
Rubby De La Rosa 4.69 5.84
Archie Bradley 4.88 5.80
Jeremy Hellickson 5.49 5.29
Josh Collmenter 5.94 5.24

Let’s look at the pitching matchups.

Friday. Chase Anderson(3.37 DRA, 3.12 ERA) vs Madison Bumgarner(4.10 DRA,3.38 ERA).

Looking at the four most recent starts, I could argue that these two are well matched by comparing 1) strike-out to walk ratio (5 vs 5.2) and 2) and earned runs per inning (0.4 vs 0.6). Chase Anderson has a better DRA than Madison Bumgarner. And yet, Chase Anderson has only 1 win and Madison Bumgarner has 7. Chase Anderson is overdue for a win. I'm predicting the Diamondbacks win this game!

Saturday. Josh Collmenter(5.94 DRA, 5.24 ERA) vs Ryan Vogelsong(5.63 DRA, 4.52 ERA).

These two pitchers have DRA's that are high, and not much different. This will likely be a high scoring game, which could favor the team with the better offense - the Diamondbacks! I look forward to watching this exciting game!

Sunday. Rubby De La Rosa(4.69 DRA, 5.84 ERA) vs Chris Heston(3.66 DRA, 3.77 ERA).

On 9 June against the Mets, Chris Heston pitched a complete game no hitter. He walked none, but hit three batters. He is a rookie, called up on 7 April to replace Matt Cain. And yet some are already thinking hall of fame. Nevertheless, Rubby De La Rosa has super days and bummer days, so this game could be surprisingly good!

Recent Impact Players

In the last two weeks, the Diamondbacks continue to win close games. Players with 2 or more RBI’s in a single game were David Peralta(twice), AJ Pollock(twice), Ender Inciarte, and Welington Castillo(his first hit as a Diamondback). Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a sacrifice fly late in a game to give the Diamondbacks the lead. Chase Anderson pitched 5.2 innings against the Mets with one earned run and six strike outs. Addison Reed and Randall Delgado each did not let inherited runners score, while pitching 1.2 and 1.1 innings with zero earned runs allowed. And for a second time in my reviews, Paul Goldschmidt gets special recognition – this time for 4 RBIs in the 30 May game against the Brewers, which otherwise would have been a close game.

Pythagorean Projection

Based on wins so far, and projecting future games based on runs scored and allowed the Diamondbacks are on pace for 78.2 wins this season. I will stick with my optimistic prediction of 78 wins this season.

In two weeks I will relook at this projection. Meanwhile, the upcoming series against the Giants will be well worth watching, and I predict our Diamondbacks will win two games.

Food of the Series

In the 1880s, plantation workers in Hawaii ate plate lunches, with leftover rice and canned meat. Years later, macaroni salad was added. When plantations ended, plate lunches were served on-site by lunch wagons. Eventually, small local restaurants with authentic Hawaiian atmosphere served plate lunches. Today, your plate lunch could include two scoops of rice, macaroni salad, Kailua pig, and lau lau (fish wrapped in taro leaf). Plate lunches are a hearty meal for warriors, such as King Kamehameha, and the Diamondbacks.