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Series Preview #21: Snakes @ Mountains (memes edition)

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at San Francisco Giants D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

I just can’t seem to do anything normal these days. Not even a headline. But neither can the Diamondbacks it seems. Like losing a series and keep the division lead. Or broadcast half your games on Facebook so you can loose ad revenue, and get more national ridicule about your uniforms. But I guess it’s working? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

This series might be considered one of the first really critical series the Diamondbacks have encountered. With the division race getting really tight (even the Padres are only 4.5 games back), the in-division series become ever more critical. And beating up on each other won’t help either team. Both the Rockies and the D-Backs will be looking for a clean sweep. The Dodgers are playing a tough Atlanta team, and the Giants are at Washington, so it is likely whoever wins this series will have the division lead going into next week.

Dem Dingers

Like your wife’s hair in the bathtub, the Rockies just won’t go down the drain like you would expect them to. You would think such a young starting rotation anchored by ......Jon Gray?!? would find a way to circle a few times and find their way home in a gutter somewhere. But its 2018 or something and things just don’t happen normally anymore.

Speaking of young pitchers, let’s see what their new first round draft pick thinks of former president Obama.

On second thought, lets leave politics to Facebook memes and ..... Fox News? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I think we’ll be seeing Shruggy McShruggerson a lot in this preview.

Rockies just came off of a 13 inning marathon loss against the Cincinnati Greens. I dunno, I’m color blind. I had to ask my dog what color they were and he just ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Despite the loss they did manage to win the series, but were swept by the Dodgers in the series before. I don’t know if that’s supposed to make me feel any better.

So is it their pitching that’s helping the Rockies win? Well no not especially, their ERA- is 103 which puts them at slightly worse than the middle of the pack. Their BABIP is .307 which isn’t that great either even considering the home park. Their LOB% is near the bottom at 70.6%, and their WHIP is 9th highest at 1.37. So, if anything their pitching is a bit of a liability.

That surely means it’s their offense right? I mean, it’s the ROCKIES.

  • 17th overall in AVG
  • 16th overall in SLG
  • 13th overall in ISO
  • 19th overall in BB/K

It seems the Rockies are just good enough to not be bad, but bad enough to not be good. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Juxtapose that to how the Diamondbacks have performed this year and it’s basically a race between the Tortoise and the Hare.

Identity Crisis

Sooooo, yeeeaaaah. Who are you again? I’m trying to figure out if you’re the good Diamondbacks who are surprising everyone like 2007, or the 2012 Diamondbacks that everyone expects to be good now but just keep getting disappointed. Please figure it out before the All Star break...

In March/April the Diamondbacks were batting .235. That was only good enough for 21st overall. In May they batted .193 which is last overall. [Insert non-royalty sad smiley meme here]

In March/April the D-Backs had an offensive fWAR of 4.9. Good enough for 7th overall. In May it’s was down to -1.0. But already in June it’s up 1.4. So we’re starting to see some hope that June might be a bounce back month.

The Diamondbacks are also showing some discipline at the plate. Monthly splits again help to tell the story. In March/April their BB% was 10.4%, in May it dropped to 8.3%, but already in June it’s starting to show signs of coming back around at 11%.

As for pitching, March/April ERA- was 75 (2nd best) and 98 in May, and settling into a nice 89 for June which I think is a bit closer to what we should expect.

The ups and downs could easily be attributed to both the lackluster play of their usually reliable stars and injuries. Goldschmidt hasn’t been Goldie like, Godley hasn’t been able to control his fastball, and even Archie has been showing signs of weakness at times. Ray, Souza, Lamb, Pollock, and Walker have all spent time on the DL when the team could have really used their services. There does appear to be some hope though.

The recent acquisition of Jon Jay may spring some more hope for a sputtering offense. Both Ray and Shelby Miller could be returning soon to shore up the pitching staff. What that means for guys like Koch and Godley remains to be seen.

If there is one bright spot for the Diamondbacks it has been their bullpen.

The bullpen ERA is a superb 2.66, which is 2nd best in the game, and their LOB% is the best at 82.8%. Combined with a rotation that despite it’s ups and downs has managed to keep the team in most games, there is definitely hope on the horizon. Perhaps if Lamb, Souza, Goldschmidt, Peralta, and Jay can find their hitting we could see another amazing month like April. Lets not forget, they’re still actually in 1st place in the division. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Game 1

Zack Greinke (RHP) vs. German Marquez (RHP)

Zack has been solid over the last five games posting a 2.56 ERA in 31.2 innings. That’s the Greinke we expected when we got him. His overall season ERA is a solid 3.44, so hopefully he can continue to improve. His ERA- is a good 87 and he’s striking out 26.6% of the batters he faces. Despite having a dip in velocity over the past couple of years he’s still getting guys out with his mix of 4 seam, change, and slider with the occasional curve. The biggest concern is his home/away splits. Home ERA: 1.64, Away ERA: 6.14. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Teams are also clobbering the ball when Greinke doesn’t sleep in his own bed. A .534 SLG and 8 of his 11 home runs have been during away games.

German is sporting a 4.38 ERA this year which is only .01 better than where he ended up last year. Not much has changed for this youngster in his sophomore year. German has a decent fastball that averages 96, but he’ll mix in a curve and slider to try and get some strikeouts or groundouts. Unlike Greinke, German has bad splits at home. Coors Field? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

At home his ERA is 7.22, and team SLG against is .533. Yeah, Denver. His FIP at home is 5.31, but when you account for fielding (Coors), his xFIP is 4.80. Still not good, but not the worst. Lefties seem to also have more success against German. More home runs, lower strikeout rate, and higher WHIP. We should see a lot of lefties in the Diamondbacks lineup for this one.

Game 2

Matt Koch (RHP) vs Chad Bettis (RHP)

Koch had his best start of the year when he gunned down 6 Marlins over 7 scoreless innings. But don’t get too excited. That was the 22-40 Marlins. Facing the likes of Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, and Trevor Story is a whole different situation.

Right now Koch has a very impressive 3.76 ERA with a 4-3 record. Koch features a fastball, cutter, curve and has managed a 1.25 GB/FB ratio. That should be very helpful when playing in Coors field. But batters are hitting the ball hard against him 46.3% of the time when they make contact. His xFIP- is 118 which factors for both ballpark and fielding isn’t great.

Bettis might be considered one of the veterans on the Rockies club having made his debut with the team back in 2013. His first full season wasn’t until 2015, but still that’s more experience than guys like German Marquez. Bettis is sporting a 4.02 ERA with a 5.90 K/9 and .270 BABIP. That has been good enough to earn him a 4-1 record on the year so far.

His Lefty/Righty splits are pretty even but righties do have a slightly higher average against him at .212/.272. But that hasn’t translated into high production. Only a .402 SLG against L and .423 SLG against R. As you might expect though, the splits between home and away are significant. Home: .316 AVG/.527 SLG/7.24 ERA. Away: .198 AVG/.333 SLG/2.03 ERA.

Overall I think this will be a pretty even matchup and could fall the Rockies way. I’m mostly concerned about the hard contact from Koch in such a big field like Coors.

Game 3

Zack Godley (RHP) vs Kyle Freeland (LHP)

Zack, Zack, Zack. Where hath thine grace gone. In 2 of the last 3 games Zack only lasted 3.1 innings. He showed some signs of life against the Reds, but that was then. What have you done for me lately Zack? I think the problem with Zack is simple, he’s relying too heavily on his Curve and has lost the feel for his sinking fastball. His sinker velocity is down this year to around 90 mph (was low to mid 90s last year), and it has a -6.3 value. Zacks curve usage is up to 38.6% but it’s value has gone down from 21.0 last year to -.1 this year.

Kyle Freeland is another one of the young Rockies pitchers who showed immense talent last year. This year, he has proven to be even better. His K/9 is up 1.54 points, his BABIP is down to .283, his LOB% is at 80.1%, and his opponent average is a steady .243. Even his WHIP is down .26 from last year. However, Kyle hasn’t gone more than 6.2 innings in his last 5 games. In his last outing he was pulled after giving up 2 runs in the 7th, so he is vulnerable late.