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Preview #66: 6/12 vs. Pirates


Flora London Marathon Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Harrison - 2B Jon Jay - RF
Corey Dickerson - LF Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Starling Marte - CF Jake Lamb - 3B
Colin Moran - 3B John Ryan Murphy - C
Elias Diaz - C Daniel Descalso - 2B
Josh Bell - 1B David Peralta - LF
Gregory Polanco - RF Ketel Marte - SS
Jordy Mercer - SS Jarrod Dyson - CF
Trevor Williams - RHP Clay Buchholz - RHP

What are the odds? I write a preview last night, about how the Pirates used to be the hit by pitch kings of the National League, but seem to have mellowed... and a plunk-fest breaks out at Chase Field. I should write this preview about how I’ve never won the PowerBall, and keep my fingers crossed... But following the events of yesterday, it will certainly be a storyline to follow at Chase. Will Clint Hurdle have learned his lesson from the D-backs’ nine unanswered runs? Or will Brad Boxberger hitting the first batter he faced in the ninth, trigger another cycle of retaliation? As Confucius famously didn’t say, “Before you embark on a journey of revenge, dig two graves...”

It’s not clear at this point whether any kind of warnings have been issued before the game: there has been no word of such, and you presume it might have been mentioned. Woe betide if either starting pitcher tonight doesn’t have his control early on, as I suspect the umpires could well presume intent in any early hit batter, and act accordingly. Clay Buchholz should have the advantage there, as his excellent control - three walks in 24 innings of work - has been one of the keys to his great success so far. Opponent Trevor Williams has five walks in 12.2 innings, which is reasonably good. In case you’re wondering, Buchholz has not hit a batter this year, Williams has one.

Clay has still been lucjy with balls in play, but the figure has been regressin, in quite a soft way. After two outings, his BABIP was .067; after three it increased to .163 and is currently .215. That’s still low, and we can’t expect a sub-two ERA for ever. But his expected ERA (FIP) is an excellent 3.35, driven by a great K:BB ratio of 21:3, and decent home-run rate - lower than any starter bar Patrick Corbin. For a minor-league replacement, it’s damn impressive. As long as he keeps throwing strikes and keeping the ball in the park, he should be fine. I imagine his spot is secure for Shelby Miller’s return, but it’ll be interesting to see what the team does when Ray comes back - Ray will pitch in a rehab game on Thursday for Visalia.