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Series Preview: Diamondbacks @ Marlins

The D-Backs enter South Beach riding the high of two exciting wins; do the good times keep on rolling?

MLB: Miami Marlins at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona Diamondbacks (33-22) @ Miami Marlins (21-30)

If I had to pick my favorite ways for the D-Backs to win a baseball game, I would answer with extra innings win and complete game shutout. Arizona delivered both of these games on Tuesday and Wednesday, bringing their record in May to 17-11. The squad is on fire, and I’d expect the hot streak to continue against a weak Marlins team

On offense, 2017 has treated the Marlins well. 6 of their 8 starters have an OPS+ above 100, giving them a well-balanced lineup. Power hitting first baseman Justin Bour (15 HRs) and speedy second baseman Dee Gordon (16 SBs) lead the infield, but the outfield is where something special may be blossoming. Everyone has seen the videos of Giancarlo Stanton crushing baseballs from Marlins Park to Tropicana Field, but his fellow outfielders are no push-overs either. Christian Yelich is a stud defensively out in center, while Marcell Ozuna is putting up All-Star caliber numbers in left. The Marlins offense can be dangerous if a pitcher is not careful.

Pitching is the reason Miami is 9 games under .500. The already-weak starting rotation has been battered by injuries, evidenced by the fact that 9 pitchers have made a start for Miami. The Marlins staff has combined for 1 fWAR, and -1 bWAR.

Yes, you read that correctly; according to Baseball Reference, the Marlins pitching staff has been worth negative 1 WAR. Ouch.

As an added bonus, this Miami Herald article from a week and a half ago states that the Marlins are on track to walk more batters than any team in the 21st century. At least each member of the rotation would be able to say “I hold a baseball record.”

Injury Report

For the D-Backs, Taijuan Walker may make his return from the DL on Sunday. His status is still up in the air. A.J. Pollock will not be back for this series, so we will probably be treated to some more Rey Fuentes in the outfield.

Miami has 3 starting pitchers on the DL, leaving the question of who will start Sunday’s game unanswered.

Star right-fielder Giancarlo Stanton was scratched from Wednesday’s game with cramps; his status for Thursday is unknown.

Infielders Martin Prado and Adeiny Hechavarria are not expected to play; both are currently on the 10-day DL.

Probable Pitchers

Game 1: Zack Greinke RHP (6-3, 3.24 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) vs Jeff Locke LHP (2016 stats: 9-8, 5.44 ERA, 1.53 WHIP)

2017 has been much, much better for Greinke than 2016. What gives? Being some guy sitting on his couch and not a scout, I am unable to pinpoint a mechanical reason However, I can give you a very simple statistical reason:

Zack Greinke: 2016 vs 2017

Stat 2016 2017
Stat 2016 2017
K/9 7.60 10.45
BB/9 2.33 1.74

Yup, that’ll do it. His trade value is sure on the rise, isn’t it?*

Jeff Locke will be making his first appearance for the Marlins, as well as his first appearance of 2017 on Thursday against the D-Backs. He has been on the DL with tendinitis in his bicep all year. The lefty was cut by the Pirates this off-season after putting up an ERA in the mid-5’s in 2016. Watching video of Locke, not a whole lot stands out; he throws a low 90’s fastball and a low-80’s change-up, relying heavily on getting weak contact. Big advantage to the Diamondbacks.

Game 2: Patrick Corbin LHP (4-5, 5.14 ERA, 1.55 WHIP) vs José Ureña RHP (3-2, 3.14 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

2013 Corbin, where art thou? In his last 5 outings, Corbin has put up an ERA of exactly 9.00. 26 innings pitched, 26 runs allowed. 4 of these starts came against sub-.500 teams, so there is a legitimate cause for concern. I see Friday’s game as a confidence booster in a pitcher-friendly ballpark.

Ureña is not merely playing with fire this season, he is poking it with a gasoline covered stick. In his third big league season, the reliever-starter hybrid has a FIP 2 runs higher than his ERA. While I am not one to get too worked up about the peripheral stats, an ERA in the low 3s with a K rate of 5.65 per 9 and a walk rate of 3.56 per 9 is not sustainable. At all. I get the feeling that the D-Backs tee off on him.

Game 3: Randall Delgado RHP (1-0, 3.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP) vs Edinson Volquez (1-7, 4.44 ERA, 1.58 WHIP)

Did you hear about the story this off-season where Mike Hazen purchased the Mystical Stone of Pitching Depth? No? Well, I don’t know how else the team would have gotten so lucky. First, Zack Godley comes in and puts up 5 straight solid outings filling in for Shelby Miller. Then, Taijuan Walker goes down, and Randall Delgado, who was last a full-time starter in 2013, comes in and tosses two consecutive one run outings. I know, Delgado will be returning to his long relief role when Walker’s blisters heal, but he has been a pleasure to watch as the understudy.

You probably know Volquez best for his performance in the World Series-winning game 5 a couple years ago. He pitched 6 innings and allowed only 2 runs (one unearned) in a game that would go 12 innings before the Royals were crowned World Champs. The 33-year-old’s career has gone into a nosedive since that magical season; 2016 saw Volquez pitch to an ERA in the low 5’s, and 2017 sees him improving but still not particularly effective. Judging by his game log, Volquez is consistently mediocre. He has not pitched more than 6 innings in a start this season, and has walked at least 4 batters in 4 of his 10 outings. Advantage D-Backs.

Game 4: TBA vs TBA

The D-Backs are trying to decide if Taijuan Walker’s blister has healed enough. If so, he will start. If not, we should see Robbie Ray on the mound.

Justin Nicolino is supposed to start on Sunday, but the blister monster attacked him as well. I’m going to guess that either Adam Conley (7.53 ERA, 1.57 WHIP) or Vance Worley (4.50 ERA, 0.90 WHIP) gets the start.

A List of Facts
  • The D-Backs pitchers are worth 10.5 WAR more than Marlins pitchers, according to Baseball Reference
  • D-Backs pitchers have held lefties to a triple slash of .225/.289/.361
  • 5 of the 8 Marlins starting position players are left handed
  • The D-Backs have an OPS of .844 with runners in scoring position
  • With the bases loaded, the Marlins are batting .382/.415/.558
  • Arizona’s home OPS: .875
  • Arizona’s road OPS: .664
  • Ichiro’s OPS+ of 29 is 4th worst of batters with over 70 plate appearances :-(
  • 5th worst on that same list? Jeff Mathis.

D-Backs win 3 of 4, and move into first place in the NL West.

*Please, please Mr. Hazen, do not trade Zack away


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