I hate you Pirates. Please stop hitting our players and injuring them. Thank God they are leaving town, because the next time I see them I will involuntarily fall into a hardcore emotional fit of rage. After losing Chris Iannetta to a gruesome injury after getting hit in the face, we then lost A.J. Pollock and David Peralta to injuries today. So splitting the series with the Pirates was just the icing on the cake to a rough weekend for the Dbacks. Now, the New York Mets come to Arizona for a three game series starting tomorrow. Let us exercise the demons that hailed from Pittsburgh, and focus on the next test. Here’s what we can expect!
Game 1: Zack Wheeler vs. Zack Godley
In a battle of Zacks, game 1 of this series will be interesting because you could easily see both pitchers pitching well, but it is also easy to see both of them struggling mightily. Zack Wheeler is one of 712 flamethrowers on the Mets, and it seems like that is a prerequisite to be a part of the Mets rotation (perhaps why they got rid of Bartolo Colon?). Wheeler is one of the many young arms that has succumbed to the Tommy John epidemic that has ravaged baseball over the last few years, and as such he missed the entire 2015 and 2016 seasons. In his first six starts of 2017 he has had mixed results, and that is to be expected when returning from Tommy John surgery. But the potential is there, and he can still be electric at any given time with a high 90’s fastball and a very strong curve. Godley will oppose him, and has appeared to earn a start or two more to see if he will be the long term replacement of Shelby Miller (who is out because of Tommy John). Last week Godley silenced the Detroit Tigers offense, and held them to just four hits and one run over 7 innings, and he needed just 88 pitches to do it. Look for him to continue his recent success seeing as he threw the ball really well against the Tigers.
Game 2: Tommy Milone vs. Zack Greinke
After being riddled with injuries and issues, the Mets rotation has been in a state of disrepair. Because of this, the team went out and claimed Tommy Milone off of waivers from the Brewers last week, to fill in for absent starters (Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, etc…). Milone has averaged less than five innings per game started this year, and is the owner of a 5.88 ERA across all appearances in 2017, so he might struggle in the offensive Arizona environment. In his last time out, Zack Greinke carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Pirates, and only lost it because Polanco was cheating inside and hit a home run off of a slider that was ten inches off the plate. Even though he didn’t get the no-hitter, Greinke looked every bit the ace that we all hoped he would be when we signed him a year and a half ago. Zack has a 2.79 ERA across 51.2 innings with 58 strikeouts and a 1.03 WHIP in 8 starts this year. He has been amazing, so let’s hope that trend continues. This game on paper looks like it should favor the Dbacks, so look for Greinke to keep the Mets in check, and the offense to jump on Milone early.
Game 3: Matt Harvey vs. Patrick Corbin
Another trend that I hope continues is whatever is going on with Matt Harvey. He has been well below replacement level in 2017, has a 5.63 ERA, and is not striking out guys at the same clip he was in years past. Add onto that the drama of him staying out late, and not showing up for team activities, and the other issues that the Mets’ rotation has, and their pitching staff is clearly in a tough spot. But, if Harvey gets his stuff together, then look out because he can be incredible and dangerous. Corbin, like Harvey, was a breakout all-star in 2013. And also like Harvey, he wound up having Tommy John surgery too. In starts 2-6, Corbin pitched really well and had a quality start each time out. In his last two outings however, he has struggled mightily, allowing 12 ER across just 10 innings and giving up 3 home runs. Look for Corbin to get back on track against the Mets.
After a hot start to the year, the Diamondbacks offense has cooled off a little bit as of late. They are still one of the best offenses in baseball, and are averaging a respectable 4.87 runs per game, but that number is somewhat skewed by some large run totals earlier in the year. They are second in baseball in hits, triples, and stolen bases and that speaks volumes to the kind of speed that this team has. One trend that I do not like seeing though, is that they are second in the NL in LOB. It seems as if they are not coming up with the big hits in key scenarios lately, and it is starting to become worrisome. I know that there are those out there that say that clutch hitting and hitting with RISP is not a measurable skill, and those numbers will level out with batting average over time. While I think that is true to some extent, I think that there can be a psychological effect that can both negatively and positively impact those outcomes, and I disagree that it is not a “thing”. To me, this team seems to be getting on base well right now, but then as soon as it comes time to drive them in, people are pressing.
As usual, one of the bright spots has been Paul Goldschmidt. After a two homer game last night, he is sitting on 10 HR and 32 RBI for the year. I know that it is not quite a quarter of the way into the year yet, but he is on pace for 8+ bWAR, 40 HR, 125 RBI, 35 SB and 125 BB. If we get this kind of season from Goldy, and Greinke continues to be an ace, then it would be a darn shame if no one else steps up and has a seriously big breakout year. If we do get one or two solid years from one of our key offensive players, then I think that this could be a possible playoff team. But that is a big “if”.
As far as the Mets are concerned, they are quietly putting up some strong offensive numbers, and are averaging a nice 5.0 runs per game. They put up above average numbers in quite a few offensive categories, and the team certainly has power. A couple of things that stood out to me when researching their offense was the lack of both stolen bases and strikeouts. They are among the leaders in not striking out, and are averaging only one strikeout every 5.28 team plate appearances. To put that in perspective, the Diamondbacks are at one strikeout every 4.20 team plate appearances. And when it comes to stolen bases, only Colorado has fewer swipes than their 10 as a team. Or, put another way, A.J. Pollock has more stolen bases than their entire team.
Although the Mets are in second place in the NL East, they are four games below .500 and have been struggling here and there to start the year. But I thought the same thing about the Pirates, and they came into town and split a four game series with us, so who knows? The Dbacks have Greinke going for them, and the Mets rotation is having some issues, so I expect the Dbacks to have a leg up in the pitching category. I will remain optimistic on the team, because even though they are having a tough time lately, they are still three games above .500. As such, I will predict a series win, with Arizona winning two of three and ending the home stand with a 5-4 record. While not extremely inspiring, if they can continue to win games during rough patches, then they have a shot to stay in the playoff race for a while. Let me know what you think of the state of the team in the comments, and go DBacks!!!
How Many Wins for the Diamondbacks this Series?
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