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Series Preview #23: D-Backs vs Mets

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The have’s vs the have-nots.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

This 4 game series is shaping up to be a pretty good matchup for the Diamondbacks. The Diamondbacks will luck out by missing Cy Young potential Jacob deGrom who pitched Wednesday against the Braves, and Noah Syndergaard who is on the 10 day DL with a strained ligament in his index finger. The Mets have lost 10 of their last 11 games while the Diamondbacks offense has woken up with a slash line of .273/.360/.509 over the last 2 weeks. The most obvious boost to the lineup has been Goldie’s awakening bat. Over the last 2 weeks Goldie is hitting .458/.544/.938.

In my estimation, April was so successful because of the pitching. June will be successful because of offense. If Robby and Miller both come back we might see a July with both good pitching and good hitting.

As for the Mets, they ain’t so amazing. Their team slash over the last 2 weeks is .137/.221/.227. Their pitching has been fairly decent over that same stretch with a 3.48 ERA and 9.1 SO/9. While the Diamondbacks pitching has been weaker with a 4.10 ERA and 8.4 SO/9.

Pitching Matchups

Game 1

Matt Koch (RHP) [4-3/4.20 ERA/4.74 xFIP] vs Steven Matz (LHP) [2-4/3.53 ERA/4.39 xFIP]

My concern with Koch has been the hard hit balls against him. Only 12.3% of contact is considered “soft” by fangraphs. His xFIP is also fairly high and suggests he still has some regression to the mean to go from his hot start to the year. Matt highlights a 4 seam, cutter, change. His 4 seam gets stung hard, his cutter is above average, and his change just typically gets spat on but does induce more ground-balls when it is swung at. His velocity on his fastball is also down from previous years to around 91-92. He really likes to pitch both down and away to right handers and down inside to lefties. The same quadrant lights up in his zone profile for both types of batters.

Matz gets about the same percentages of hard, med, soft contact as Koch but has a very different repertoire. 59% of the time he throws a sinker, followed by change then Curve. Lately he’s been throwing his slider a bit more as well. He throws his sinker hard at around 93-94 mph and induces a lot of ground balls that way. You can see how working off of a sinker would cause lots of grounders when he goes to the change and slider.

Game 2

Zack Godley (RHP) [6-5/4.97 ERA/4.13 xFIP] vs Seth Lugo (RHP) [2-1/1.77 ERA/3.11 xFIP]

Zack’s last outing showed he isn’t a total loss for the season going 5 2/3rds allowing only 5 hits and 2 runs with 8 strike outs. His curve ball is still his main pitch but we saw a sizable reduction in the number of sinkers he tried to throw. Instead he threw his cutter more and that seemed to give him a better command of the strike zone. His cutter wasn’t thrown for any groundouts but it did allow him to use the curve and change a bit more. Hopefully we see this trend continue with Zack. His sinker and cutter haven’t been very accurate and his BB% was really starting to climb. Over the last 3 games though Zack has only walked 2 batters in each of them. To be fair, he only pitched for 3.1 innings in one of them.

Seth Lugo is a bit of an experiment gone right. He’s started 2 games and won his last start against the 43-20 Yankees (only going 4 innings in his other start). He is pitching in place of Noah Syndergaard. In those 2 starts (10 innings total), he gave up 0 runs on 5 hits, and completed 11 strike outs. Not bad for a bullpen guy turned starter. It’s hard to nail down what kind of pitch usage Lugo will be using since typically the starter approach is different from the bullpen, but he also likes his curve ball throwing it 32.14% of the time against the Yankee’s. I suspect we’ll see a similar strategy when he starts on Friday.

Game 3

Patrick Corbin (LHP) [6-2/3.10 ERA/2.73 xFIP] vs Jason Vargas (LHP) [2-4/7.71 ERA/4.74 xFIP]

Patrick has had some regression in the last few games. In the last 28 days he has a 4.20 ERA with a 3.37 xFIP in the month of May and 3.44 so far in June. But he’s still pitching very well even during that time averaging 10.5 strikeouts per nine and 3.18 strikeouts per walk. In his last 5 games he’s 2-1 so he’s still managed to keep the team in the game. His lefty/righty splits are not what you would expect from a left hander. Right handers are batting .191/.247/.323 and he’s averaging 5.44 strikeouts to walks. Where as against lefties it’s .203/.301/.359 and 2.56 SO/W. Still, really incredibly good numbers despite being worse that against righties. We all know Patricks bread and butter pitch is his slider. 58.7% of his strikes are off his slider and 40.4% of the time when there is contact it’s a ground ball. That’s actually down a bit this year as compared to the past. He also has a sinker which he uses about 25% of the time but has also been throwing in an occasional curve ball.

Jason Vargas has been in the league for 13 years now but has been a shell of his former self. With a 2-4 record, a staggering 7.71 ERA, and a monstrous 204 ERA-, it’s hard to see how he will stay up in the majors much longer. Maybe a trade deal or move to the pen could salvage him. He does’t just give up grounders that just find the gap or Texas Leaguer's either. Only 16.3% of contact on his pitches is considered soft contact by Fangraphs. 24.8% of all contact results in a line drive. His WHIP is 1.75, and batting avg against is .313. I really had to dig deep just to find one semi-hopeful stat. He strikes out about 8 batters per 9. Bring in Shruggy McShruggerson.

Game 4

Clay Buchholz (RHP)[1-1/3.21 ERA/4.47 xFIP] vs Zack Wheeler (RHP)[2-5/4.98 ERA/4.22 xFIP]

Clay (you can call him Flaco) has been doing pretty good to hold down his spot in the rotation so far. A 20.2% strikeout rate, 1.04 WHIP, and ERA- of 81 in his 5 starts. Over that time he has a 1-1 record but I think it’s safe to say that was mostly due to the struggles on the offensive side of the ball. Clay was picked up as a free agent in May after Walker and Ray both went down with injuries and is probably looking to add one last contract extension before retiring. He was dropped by the Royals earlier this year despite pitching quite well in the minors. They probably saw fit to release him since he’s 33 and at the tail end of his career while they’re in a rebuilding phase.

Clay throws a pretty sizable mix of pitches ranging from his fourseam, cutter, curve, change, and sinker in that order of usage. His velocity is still quite good too at around 91 on his fourseam.

Zack Wheeler is having difficulty with putting runners on the base pads. His WHIP is a pretty high 1.44 and his BABIP is .320. He induces more ground ball outs than fly outs, but marginally at 44.4% and 35.6% respectively. 20% of balls in play are line drives, so he’s not really fooling many batters. He mostly features a fourseam fastball with a decent slider and not much else. He can throw a change, curve, and even a split but it’s pretty rare. That makes him only a 2 pitch pitcher and they don’t usually go deep into games. Zack has only pitched 7 complete innings twice all year, one of which was his first start of the year. It also seems to take him a while to get started. Opponent batting numbers against him in the first inning are .385 AVG/.459 OBP/.635 SLG. Then in the 6th they’re .242/.324/.424. Getting ahead early and coming back late are very real possibilities.

Prediction

I’m thinking a sweep is possible, but both Game 1 and Game 2 give me some concern. The pitching matchups favor the Mets so if the D-Backs bats fall silent again we might see a 2 game split. My prediction is a 3-1 split favoring the DBacks.