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Series Preview: Diamondbacks vs Yankees

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To sweep or get swept, that is the question. The D-Backs host the Yankees in some interleague play.

A photo from happier, simpler times
A photo from happier, simpler times
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks (17-23) vs New York Yankees (16-20)

Sighhhh. After going on a 5 game winning streak, and giving hope to everyone, the D-Backs tossed all that hope at the window with a sweep at the hands of the Giants. The offense wouldn't have been able to get a hit with runners in scoring position against me, wasting a bunch of solid pitching performances. How the heck does a team allow an average of 3.5 runs per game, and get swept??? The series was pretty much summarized in Sunday's game, when trailing by one run, runners on the corners, one out, Rickie Weeks grounded into a double play. Now the D-Backs host a Yankess team, who have won 8 of their last 12 after looking as pathetic as... well... the Diamondbacks did over the weekend.

State of the Yankees

The Yankees have been unimpressive on both sides of the game, coming in at 25th in runs per game, and 19th in opponent runs per game. Nobody has really stepped up on offense: Their leaders in OPS+ are at 118 and 117, Brian McCann and Starlin Castro. Everyone else is right around or well below league average. Five of their everyday starters are batting .225 or less on the season, which is generally not a good thing. The starting rotation has been struck by a combination of ineffectiveness and injuries, with an ERA of 4.87. Even the bullpen, which was supposed to make everyone ooo and ahhh, has been just good, not exceptional, with an ERA of 3.28. Despite all this, they have won 8 of their last 12 games. Funny how baseball works sometimes, isn't it.

Good News
  • Brandon Drury has to be in the early conversation for Rookie of the Year. He has a triple slash of .320/.343/.547, and was one of few bright spots in the Giants series. Chris Owings is also quietly on a hot streak, with a batting average of .414 in his last 7 games before Sunday.
  • All the games in the Giants series were actually winnable, none of them decided by more than 2 runs. That just makes the losses even more frusturating, but it's nice that they weren't getting blown out.
Bad News
  • Goldy is still unable to hit, with a batting average of .220 after Sunday's game. He'll figure it out eventually... it's just taking a really, really long time.
  • The top 7 guys in plate appearances over the last week for the Yankees all have a wRC+ (a statistic that works similaraly to OPS+) above league average in that time frame.
Injury Report

New York has quite a few key parts to their team who are banged up. Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is listed as day-to-day with a strained muscle. A-Rod, C.C. Sabathia, and pitcher Luis Severino are all on the DL for a variety of reasons. None of them will be able to return for this series.

The D-Backs just lost David Peralta to the DL, a big blow to the offense and defense. Collmenter is slowly working his way back, now pitching in AAA. He is not expected to be back in time for this series.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1: Robbie Ray LHP (1-2, 4.84 ERA, 1.75 WHIP) vs Chad Green RHP (N/A)

Ray has been very not good lately, with a 7.94 ERA in his last 4 starts. He's quietly making his own case to be the first pitcher to be taking out of the rotation, right up there with Shelby. Everything he has been throwing is getting hit hard, with a 50% hard hit percentage in his last 4 starts. League average is 30%.

Chad Green will make his major league debut on Monday, filling the spot of the injured Luis Severino. He has been impressive in AAA this year, with a 1.22 ERA and 1.11 WHIP in 7 starts. Can't give either team the edge in this one.

Game 2: Zack Greinke RHP  (3-3, 5.26 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) vs Michael Pineda RHP (1-4, 6.28 ERA, 1.60 WHIP)

I am unsure what to say about Greinke. His K's and walks are about the same as they have been throughout his career. People are hitting the ball as hard off of him as they did last year. Could his awful start be attributed to nothing more than bad luck? I suppose we just have to hope and pray he figures things out soon.

Pineda has struggled with walks, (a BB/9 of 3.03), and the longball (HR/9 of 2.09). It doesn't take Bill James to tell you that that is not a good recipe for success. Maybe he needs to use some more of that pine tar.

Advantage D-Backs.

Game 3: Shelby Miller RHP (1-4, 6.94 ERA, 1.74 WHIP) vs Nathan Eovaldi RHP (3-2, 4.85 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)

Shelby has an ERA of 3.86 in his last 2 starts. These starts have been FAR better than anything else he has done all year, so I guess I'll take it. However, two okay starts are not enough to convince me that his season is about to magically turn around.

Throughout his career, Eovaldi has had one of the best fastballs in the game for a starter. Unfortunately, that is the only pitch he has been able to throw well. He has shown flashes of potential this year, most notably a 7 inning, 2 hit, 0 run game in late April. I also vaguely remember getting an alert on my phone that he had a no-hitter through six innings at some point this year, so I guess that's cool. Eovaldi's numbers have been inflated by an unusally high number of homers: this year, 18% of fly balls he allows have turned into homers. His career number is just over 7%. Advantage Yankees.

Keys to the Series

Hitting with runners in scoring position: The Diamondbacks hit barely above .100 with runners in scoring position against the Giants, and left a total of 32 guys on base. That is a number which has to change if the D-Backs want to score runs.

Bullpen: The bullpen blew tie games in the 9th on both Saturday and Sunday. This was out of the ordinary for a back end (Clippard, Hudson, Ziegler) which has been excellent the majority of the year.

Prediction

It seems that it's been all or nothing for the D-Backs this season. I'll stick with that theme, and predict that Arizona finally shows up at home, sweeping the Yankees.