Arizona Diamondbacks (5-8) @ San Francisco Giants (7-6)
After a very rough first 10 games, the D-Backs finally looked like the team which received so much hype this offseason this weekend against the Padres. The pitching showed up, and while the offense wasn't great, they were good enough to win 2 out of 3 games. A big part of these offensive struggles was hitting with runners in scoring position. The D-Backs were 4-for-21 with RISP at Petco Park, including an 0-for-13 performance in Saturday's 14-inning heart breaker. I'm sure that this issue will work itself out, as hitting with RISP isn't really a skill, and should even itself out over time. This should be a fun series to watch, so let's get into it.
The State of the Giants
Imagine last year's Giants, except with people who can actually pitch behind Bumgarner, and yup that's this year's Giants. The offense is headlined by Buster Posey, followed by 7 other guys who hit above or around league average last year. The bullpen is relatively unchanged. So, why are the Giants just barely above .500? Part of the reason is their schedule. 7 of their 13 games have been against the Dodgers, a very good team. Another explanation is that last year's break out guys just aren't performing. Joe Panik and Matt Duffy have a combined OPS around .645. Other under performers include offseason signing Denard Span, the crazy looking Hunter Pence, and even Posey, who is batting .257. Fun fact about the Giants, their 5th leading player in WAR is Cody Gearrin. I had never heard of Cody Gearrin (who is apparently a relief pitcher) until today, and boy is he angry about it, judging by this picture.
- The D-Backs will be facing Matt Cain and Jake Peavy, who have a combined ERA of 8.24 this season
- As mentioned above, the Giants offense, which was supposed to be one of the most complete line-ups has sputtered out of the gate.
- Goldy, Castillo, and Owings have all struggled mightily, with batting averages below .205 for all of them. They need to turn things around quick if the D-Backs want to start scoring runs.
- Giants' outfielder Angel Pagan, of all people, has started the year on fire. He has an OPS+ of 175 currently.
- San Francisco has their own Trevor who has been tearing things up, backup catcher Trevor Brown. He has homered three times. He has homered 3 times in 13 at-bats this year.
Shelby Miller left Saturday's game with cuts on his pitching hand. It is unknown if he will be able to make his scheduled start on Thursday, though he said he believes he'll be good to go.
Reliever Sergio Romo was put on the DL a couple days ago with an elbow injury. This is a big blow to San Fran, since he was their only truly dominant reliever.
Game 1: Archie Bradley RHP (2015 stats: 2-3, 5.80 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) vs Jake Peavy (0-1, 10.00 ERA, 2.44 WHIP)
Bradley is filling in for Rubby, who pitched in relief during Saturday's marathon game. Archie went into last season as one of the top, if not the top, pitching prospects for the D-Backs. He started off with 3 great outings, but an extremely low BABIP and extremely high walk rate caused some doubt as to if he would continue his success. He was hit in the face in one of the scariest moments of the 2015 season by a ball hit right back at him, and was never the same pitcher after the injury. One of his problems was a lack of pitch variety. He threw 73% 4-seamers last year, followed by a fair amount of curveballs and couple change-ups. He'll need to mix it up more in order to succeed on Monday.
WHOA LOOK AT THOSE NUMBERS. A 10.00 ERA AND 2.44 WHIP IS NOT GOOD AT ALL. Ok that's all I have to say. Next pitcher. Advantage D-Backs
Game 2: Robbie Ray LHP (0-0, 2.92 ERA, 1.38 WHIP) vs Matt Cain RHP (0-1, 6.75 ERA, 1.31 WHIP)
Ray has given the D-Backs a very good chance to win in both of his starts this season, with 2 6+ inning, 2 run, 4 hit outings. One area of concern is walks. Robbie has walked 9 batters in 12.2 innings this season, the same amount of people he has struck out.
A combination of injuries and ineffectiveness have rendered Matt Cain unable to be the guy he was in 2011 and 2012. After a promising first start, Cain allowed 6 runs in 4.2 innings in his last outing (that's bad). He made one start against Arizona last year, where he allowed 4 runs in 5 innings. Advantage D-Backs.
Game 3: Zack Greinke (0-2, 6.75 ERA, 1.63 WHIP) vs Madison Bumgarner LHP (1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.63 WHIP)
This will be a fun one to watch. Both aces have struggled early on, but that is no reason to think that this won't be a pitching duel. Bumgarner's problem has been the home run. He allowed 2 homers in 2 of his games this year, in which he had a 6.30 ERA. The one start that he allowed no homers, he went 6 innings and gave up only one run. That 1.63 WHIP certainly isn't doing him any favors, either.
Grienke has gotten better in every start this season, but still hasn't gotten back to that "ace" level. Don't worry, he'll get there. I'll give the D-Backs the very slight edge in this match-up.
Game 4: TBD vs Johnny Cueto RHP (3-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.08 WHIP)
This is supposed to be Shelby Miller's start, but his status is up in the air right now.
Cueto has been dominant in two starts this year, and not so dominant in the other. If we get that struggling Cueto, I will be very surprised. Cueto has pitched against Arizona 8 times in his career, and was very successful 7 out of those 8 times.
Paul Goldschmidt and Buster Posey are the X-Factors for this series. Both have severely under-performed so far. Once they start to turn their season around, their team will be able to do the same.
- The D-Backs get 4 great pitching performances from the starters.
- Paul Goldschmidt finally gets into gear.
- The D-Backs win 3 of 4, with the bullpen blowing the only loss.