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Series Preview #16: Diamondbacks vs Padres

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Which losing streak will be broken first?

Can Jean Segura fly like superman?
Can Jean Segura fly like superman?
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Arizona Diamondbacks(21-28)

vs San Diego Padres(19-29)

The Diamondbacks lost their last three games. That's not what anyone expected. The Padres lost their last four games. Both teams are hungry for a win. First, let's compare the two teams by looking at offense and defense.

  • Offense. In the last 10 games, Diamondbacks offense has averaged 4.8 runs per game, which was slightly better than their season average of 4.5 runs per game. With Segura back, improvement will continue. In the last 10 games, the Padres offense has averaged 2.5 runs per game, which is much worse than the Diamondbacks, and worse than their season average of 3.5 runs per game. Clear advantage to the Diamondbacks.

  • Defense. Both teams commit too many errors (bottom 30%), and make a lot of double plays(top 30%). The defenses are about equivalent. Last series with the Diamondbacks, the Padres were limited to 3.3 runs per game. Will defense repeat that performance?

Second, let’s look at how the Diamondbacks compare to the Padres on six measures. Data through 26 May 2016.

Diamondbacks Padres
HomeRuns 55 41
RBIs 212 162
Hits 467 358
Stolen Bases 32 31
Double Plays Turned 46 51
Errors 31 35

Although defensively equivalent, based on offense and the six measures, the Diamondbacks are the better team.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Christian Friedrich (2.89 ERA, 4.68 FIP, 4.7 IP/GS, 1.0 run support/GS) vs Robbie Ray(4.18 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 5.2 IP/GS, 2.1 run support/GS).

Christian Friedrich did not start a game in 2015; he was in the bullpen. In March, he signed a minor league contract as a free agent. When Andrew Cashner went on the DL, Friedrich was promoted and started two games. Friedrich pitched well enough that when Cashner returned Tuesday, Friedrich stayed.

Robbie Ray developed a slow and solid foundation and his Majors debut was 2014. He has pitched better in night games than day games, and this is a night game. The Diamondbacks need this win, and it will be light and crisp like a Caesar salad.

Saturday. Cesar Vargas (3.34 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 5.4 IP/GS, 1.3 run support/GS) vs Zack Greinke (4.59 ERA, 3.49 FIP, 6.4 IP/GS, 3.0 run support/GS).

Prior to 2015, Cesar Vargus never played above A+ baseball. In November of 2015 he was released by the Yankees, and two weeks later the Padres signed him. This season is his first in the Majors. He can be good. On Saturday against the Dodgers, he pitched 7 innings with 7 strikeouts, 1 walk, and 2 earned runs. Nevertheless, his lack of experience and lack of run support will allow several opportunities for the Diamondbacks to win this game.

Dare I say that Zack Greinke has learned to better his best approach to pitching at Chase? And just in time for this home series. A win at home will be good for the soul. The win will be healthy like a Waldorf salad.

Sunday. Drew Pomeranz (1.70 ERA, 2.96 FIP, 5.9 IP/GS, 2.6 run support/GS) vs Shelby Miller(7.09 ERA, 6.57 FIP, 4.5 IP/GS, 1.7 run support/GS).

In December 2015, Drew Pomeranz was traded from the Athletics to the Padres. This season, the most earned runs he allowed was three, and only one time. More likely is 2 or less earned runs. On Monday, he pitched 7 innings with zero earned runs allowed. Monday was the fourth time this season he has allowed zero earned runs. With him pitching, the Padres have a very good chance to win this game.

Shelby Miller has struggled mightily with his mechanics. As Nate Rowan noted before Tuesday’s start, “Shelby has been serviceable for 3 starts in a row now, going 5.2-6 innings and allowing 2-3 runs in each game.” Tuesday’s start was a step back, with 6 earned runs in 5 innings. If the Diamondbacks complete 5 innings and they are within 1 run of the Padres, I will celebrate with popcorn.

It is by no means 100% certain that Shelby Miller will start this game. In an interview with Doug and Wolf on 25 May, Tony La Russa said, “We’re discussing it all [including whether Miller would benefit from a bullpen assignment or being optioned to the minors] and his spot comes up again Sunday against San Diego.” In the same interview, Tony La Russa said that players can use anger to clear their head of distractions and perform better. Is he considering making Miller angry just before the game starts?

2016 Post-Season Status: RED

I track the status of the run at the post season by watching three targets: 1) 50% wins against Giants and Dodgers, 2) 57% wins against all other teams, and 3) Based on the ten latest games, Pythagorean projection of at least 89 wins by the end of the season. Green status means that at least two targets are met. Yellow status means that one target is met. Red status means that no targets are met.

  • The Diamondbacks have 5 wins and 6 losses against the Dodgers & Giants. This target is not met.

  • Through 26 May, the Diamondbacks have won 42% against all teams except Giants & Dodgers. Currently, the 57% target is not met.

  • Based on the last ten games (through 26 May), my Pythagorean projection is 74.4 wins this season. This is much lower than the 87.7 wins two weeks ago. Currently, the target of 89 projected wins is not met.

In the last two weeks the Diamondbacks post-season status fell from yellow to red. This was because the first target was no longer met after the Giants swept the Diamondbacks. Then my Pythagorean projection briefly exceeded the target before sinking 14 games below the target when the Pirates swept the Diamondbacks. Will the Diamondbacks reach the post-season this year? Something needs to change.

Unless the status turns yellow or green, I don’t plan to show it again, which would be like beating a dead horse. Meanwhile, I predict the Diamondbacks will win the upcoming series against the Padres.

Player in the Spotlight

New York Mets v San Diego Padres
Did you say spotlight or light soda?
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

He collects sneakers. With seven years in the majors as an outfielder, he has not played in an all-star game, and he has not received any noteworthy award. But he did not “sneak” into the spotlight. Jon Jay earned the spotlight for four reasons, which you will soon see more clearly.

He grew up in Miami. He used his status as a major league baseball player to raise money for homeless centers in Miami and the Great Circle (supports children and families in crisis). How did he do it? In 2011, he championed Jon Jay’s Celebrity Bowling Challenge. In 2014, he championed Jay Craig Celebrity Bowl. Although these were altruistic events, baseball benefited by participation in local communities.

How he met Nikki Stecich in college is shrouded in mystery. I’m certain slow burning embers were ignited. In 2011 his team won the World Series. However, his professional career highlight was overshadowed by his engagement to Nikki. They married in 2013. She is active in charities, including Armor En Accio-Proyecto Esperanza which provides education and nutrition to children in Dominican Republic.

In 2015, he participated in Major League Baseballs’ goodwill tour of Cuba. That historic tour was the first since 1999. How exciting it must have been to be part of normalizing the relationship between the United States and Cuba. This tour was followed by the March 2016 baseball game attended by Barack Obama, Raul Castro, and 55,000 fans at Estadio Latinoamericano. And baseball benefited by increased interest in baseball especially by Cuban youth.

Andy Green (former Diamondback and currently Padres manager) said, “He has passion and leadership; he is a culture changer.” Passion is a strong and intense emotion. When it is channeled into a compelling enthusiasm and desire, the result is awesomeness. Jon Jay is awesome and in the spotlight.