Its safe to say that the Opening Series did not go the way the Diamondbacks were hoping. Zack Grienke was roughed up, Zack Godley was roughed up, the bullpen was used and abused, the team is still carrying three catchers instead of an extra bullpen arm right now, things like that. And it wasn’t just that the Dodgers beat us; it was how they beat us. They hit something like eleventy billion home runs, had two blow outs, and got a come from behind win in a game that the Dbacks put up a seven spot in one inning. Just a rough series all around.
On the flip side of that, the Padres had a very good first series against the Giants. Currently, they are 3-1 and sitting at the top of the NL West standings with the Dodgers, enjoying a one game lead over the Rockies. Perhaps this shouldn’t be surprising, given the big moves they’ve made over the past couple seasons, but yet, somehow it still is.
Game 1: Merrill Kelly (debut) vs. Matt Stratham (debut/pitched in relief last season)
As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Diamondbacks spent the majority of the offseason cornering the market on players with the last name of Kelly. In this first game of the series, the pitching half of our duel Kellys (Kellyes? Kellies?) will be getting the start. It will be his first MLB start after failing to make the majors with the Rays, and then spent the next four years pitching in Korea and accidentally not paying taxes. I personally will be interested to see how it goes and make the appropriate knee jerk reactions.
On the other side of the pitching match up, Matt Stratham will also being making his season debut. He was a trade deadline acquisition for the Padres last season, who picked him up a as a future rotation piece, but used him out of the bullpen, to allow him to ease back into things following a knee surgery. Should make for an interesting pitching matchup, with a couple of unknown factors on the mound for both teams.
Game 2: Zack Greinke (0-1, 17.18 ERA) vs Eric Lauer (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Game 2 will feature story lines stemming from two very different Opening Day starters. For the Diamondbacks you will have, of course, Zack Greinke, coming off one of the more forgettable Opening Day starts that I remember. As a general rule, giving up more home runs than strikeouts recorded is rarely a good thing, but Zack managed it in his 3.2 inning start to open the season. Control issues plagued him all day, and the Dodgers were willing to wait for the mistakes. He’ll be looking and expecting to bounce back tomorrow night against the Padres.
Lauer on the other hand will be looking to build off the best Opening Day start for someone his age since some schmuck named Clayton Kershaw. Per dbacks.com, Lauer, at 23, was the youngest player to throw at least six scoreless innings since the aforementioned ace.
Game 3: Robbie Ray (0-0, 5.19 ERA) vs. Joey Lucchessi (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
Like Greinke, Ray also struggled with his command last start, but ultimately got better results, only giving up three runs while recording nine Ks in five innings. He kept it close enough that the Dbacks were eventually able to come back and win the game . We’ll see if that game was just first start nerves, or a sign of how the season is going to go.
Lucchessi was a pitcher who struggled against the Diamondbacks last season, losing five of his six starts against the team. However, he excelled in his first start of the season, holding the Giants scoreless, and it will be a very different Dbacks lineup than he faced last season. Which past performance turns out to be predictive remains to be seen.
I feel like this series will be more favorable to the Diamondbacks than the first one. Both teams played differently than their expected abilites in the Opening Series, though one positively and one negatively. I expect Dbacks pitching to positively regress towards what we expect from them, and the Padres pitching to come back down to earth. If nothing else, this series will be interesting for the debut of Merril Kelly and the likely debut of Jon Duplantier out of the bullpen. Dbacks take the series 2-1.