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Series Preview # 17: Arizona Diamondbacks @ Pittsburgh Pirates

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Oh goody, we get to see the Pirates again! That sounds like more fun that sticking my fist in a blender.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Yep, it’s the Pirates again. I would have been happy if we didn’t see them again for … well … ever. But at least after this three game series, we won’t have to see them again until 2018. The Diamondbacks are coming off of a relatively disappointing start to this 10-game road trip, since they won the first two games in Milwaukee and then promptly lost the next two with their #1 and #2 starters on the hill. But, that is going to happen sometimes, and they still made it out of Wisconsin with a road split. The Pirates on the other hand, are coming off of some major league series that I care absolutely nothing about, where they probably hit eight batters. Let’s see what we can expect in this week’s dodgeball contest … er … I mean matchup.

Pitching Matchups

  • Game 1: Randall Delgado vs. Trevor Williams
  • Game 2: Robbie Ray vs. Ivan Nova
  • Game 3: Zack Godley vs. Chad Kuhl

It appears that Delgado will get another start while filling in for injured starter Taijuan Walker. After his last start, it makes a lot of sense because he went four innings while allowing two runs (one earned) and helped his team to sweep the Chicago White Sox out of town. Trevor Williams started the game for the Pirates on May 13th against the Dbacks, and he went five innings while allowing only one run. Outside of that start, he has been largely unimpressive the rest of the year, so hopefully Arizona will fare better against him the second time around.

Game 2 should be a fun pitcher’s duel with two hurlers that have been doing very well to start 2017. Robbie Ray has had a couple of outings this year where his pitch count issue reared its ugly head, but by and large he has been excellent. His last two outings have been the perfect example of that, where he has gone a combined 14.2 shutout innings while allowing only 4 hits, 3 bases on balls, and striking out 15. But... those two excellent outings came after one of his worst outings of the year, which was against the Pirates. Ivan Nova has been great this year as well, pitching 70 innings across 10 starts, while having a 2.83 ERA which ranks fourth among qualified starters in the NL. Somehow he has done it with a 4.76 K/9 and a 3.69 xFIP, so I personally don’t expect him to be that good for the entire year. Let’s hope that Ray continues his scoreless streak and that Nova regresses a bit during this matchup.

Zack Godley has a 1.99 ERA over 31.2 innings so far this year, and he has filled in admirably for the injured Shelby Miller. Godley is coming off of six shutout innings against the Brewers in Milwaukee, and he has shown a different level than what we have seen from him in the past. Perhaps he is just the next pitcher in a long line of pitchers that were affected by the previous regime, but are now pitching well… There have been enough of them for it to be a coincidence in my eyes. Chad Kuhl has had a rough start to 2017 to say the least. He sports a 6.29 ERA across 44.1 innings and has a 1.624 WHIP to go with it. Hopefully the Dbacks don’t take it easy on him, and hopefully they make sure that his ERA stays right where it is at. As for Godley, I would like to see him go just a tad deeper into the game. He has only thrown more than 90 pitches once in his five starts and the bullpen has been taxed a lot lately. Especially with game 1 being started by Delgado, we will need both Ray and Godley to go deep into the games.

Offense

The Arizona offense has been very good for most of the year, but they have also been slowly regressing a little bit over the last month or so. An offense that once was at or near the top of almost every major offensive category, now is still above league average but is closer to middle of the pack. Here’s how they rank among all of the MLB in the following categories:

  • 7th in runs per game
  • 2nd in hits
  • 3rd in home runs
  • 2nd in stolen bases
  • 2nd in slugging

So while they are nearer to league average in things like OPS+, OBP, AVG, etc… they are still doing well. One thing that has been plaguing them all year long however, has been consistency. Some games they score ten runs, while others they can barely score. Look for them to try and gain some consistency in Pittsburgh, and the rest of the road trip.

For as good as Arizona has been on offense, the Pirates have been that bad. The Pirates 4.02 runs per game is bad enough for 4th worst among all MLB teams, ahead of the Royals, Giants, and the Padres. Former MVP (although that award should be sitting on Paul Goldschmidt’s mantle) Andrew McCutchen is hitting a cool .212 and that is just one of the many problems that their offense has been dealing with this year. Failed drug tests, DUI’s, and underperforming players are all part of what of what ails the Pirates, and I don’t care. At least they don’t have players getting hit in the face. And this is all I’m writing about their offense because now I’m mad.

Conclusion

The Pirates sit in last place in the NL Central at 23-27, and the Dbacks sit in third place in the NL West at 31-21. Although the Dbacks have struggled a little bit on the road this year, I think that they will be able to take two out of three from the struggling Pirates. I can’t in good conscience expect a sweep, but I think that two out of three is a fair hope. But, more than anything, I just want our guys to get out of Pittsburgh in one piece with no bean balls going either direction.

Poll

How Many Wins for the Dbacks in Pittsburgh?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    0 (Getting hit in the face)
    (9 votes)
  • 23%
    1 (Getting hit in the leg)
    (18 votes)
  • 44%
    2 (Getting hit in the buttocks)
    (34 votes)
  • 19%
    3 (No one getting hit, ever)
    (15 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now