Arizona Diamondbacks (70-58) vs San Francisco Giants (52-77)
The sky is not falling just yet. After a 3 week series-win drought that saw Arizona go 5-11, the D-Backs were able to take 3 of 4 from the Mets thanks to strong pitching performances. The D-Backs allowed only 12 runs in the series while scoring 15. As of Thursday afternoon, the Diamondbacks are a half game up on the Rockies for the first Wild Card spot, and 4 games ahead of Milwaukee. Now, the D-Backs come home to take on the second-worst team in the National League. These next three games against the Giants will be a wonderful opportunity to extend the Wild Card lead, and hopefully make September much less interesting.
Don’t look now, but the Giants are playing like an MLB baseball team. They are 12-10 in the month of August, and coming off a series victory against the Brewers. Thanks for the help, San Fran. Offensively, Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence have been leading the charge, both with slugging percentages of .470 in their last 13 games. Pablo Sandoval is back with the Giants, and has been alright with a .274/.318/.387 triple slash. I do not see the purpose in bringing back Kung Fu Panda in the midst of a lost season, but I guess the people in the Giants front office who are smarter than me do.
The Giants bullpen is very meh, with an ERA in the low 4’s. The Diamondbacks should hope to see Bruce Bochy bring in either Albert Suarez or Josh Osich into the game; both have an ERA in the double digits over the past 2 weeks.
Jeff Mathis, Rubby de la Rosa, and Yasmany Tomas have all be ruled out for the season. Nick Ahmed is currently rehabbing in Rookie League and will return very soon, while Randall Delgado and Chris Owings are expected to return at some point in September.
Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, and Michael Morse are all on the concussion DL; only Panik is expected to play this series. Hunter Pence is listed as day-to-day with hamstring tightness, and left fielder Austin Slater has been out quite a while with a groin injury.
Game 1: Zack Greinke RHP (14-6, 3.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) vs Ty Blach LHP (8-9, 4.59 ERA, 1.34 WHIP)
Uh oh! Zack Greinke has been a bit shaky lately! Is it time for a “What’s Up With Zack Greinke” article? No. It is not time for that article. Zack is still an ace. I must add, however, that I am intrigued to see how the loss of catcher Jeff Mathis affects Greinke.
Ty Blach is the ultimate pitch-to-contact pitcher, striking out only 4.33 batters per 9. This is by far the lowest rate of any qualifying pitcher, with old friend Jeremy Hellickson coming in second at 5.53. Interestingly, neither his ground ball nor soft contact rate is extraordinarily high. Look for the D-Backs to BABIP him to death. Big advantage to the good guys.
Game 2: Taijuan Walker RHP (6-7, 3.66 ERA, 1.32 WHIP) vs Madison Bumgarner LHP (3-5, 2.87 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
After a handful of “meh, that’s fine I guess” starts, Mr. Walker was impressive on Monday against the Mets. He scattered 7 hits over 5.1 innings, and allowed 0 runs. While you could argue that Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger have been worth more this season, could you imagine where the D-Backs would be depth-wise without Walker? Over the past month while Ray has been out, the D-Backs would have had to have both Banda AND Shipley in the rotation. That is... uh... not a pleasant thought.
MadBum seems to be unaffected by his earlier dirt bike injury. Since his return, Bumgarner has put up an impressive 2.81 ERA. Arizona will need a nice, long outing from Walker to have a shot.
Game 3: Patrick Corbin LHP (11-11, 4.09 ERA, 1.43 WHIP) vs Chris Stratton RHP (2-2, 3.98 ERA, 1.42 WHIP)
Patrick Corbin ERA, April 4 through June 7: 5.43
Patrick Corbin ERA, June 8 through August 11: 4.04
Patrick Corbin ERA, August 12 through today: 0.39
Corbin has been otherworldly in his last three starts. It has been an absolute pleasure to watch, and if he can be even half the pitcher that he has been the past two weeks, we will all be thrilled.
Chris Stratton... who? He will be making the fifth start of his rookie year on Thursday. The righty is on a bit of a hot streak, bringing an 11.2 inning scoreless streak into the contest. He throws a slow curveball and a change-up to complement a low 90s fastball. Slight advantage to Corbin.
D-Backs take care of business, win 2 of 3 against San Fran.
How many games do the D-Backs win against San Francisco?
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