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Series Preview #3: Diamondbacks vs. Red Sox

Kick em’ while they’re down !

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

EDIT: Sunday starter still listed as TBD for Red Sox. Now hearing it could be bullpen game

The World Champion Boston Red Sox come to town as the Diamondbacks play host during their home opening weekend. You can read about the pre game festivities, street fair, awards ceremonies, etc HERE .

The DBacks are catching the Red Sox at either a very good or very bad time. Starting the year on an 11 game road trip has not gone so well for the world champs, having lost 3 of 4 to both the Mariners and the A’s. The lone victory in the A’s series came last night courtesy of a Fernando Rodney blown save in the 9th. However they lost the series finale, dropping their record to 2-6. The turning point in that game was a defensive miscue between Jackie Bradley Jr, and Mookie Betts, both Gold Glovers. Their record is indicative of how they’ve played as their starting pitching has been awful and only a few guys in their lineup are hitting. So it’s either a good time to take advantage of them, or conversely, they may be due to wake up and start playing better. Lets hope it’s the former and not the latter.

Due to luxury tax concerns, and a desire to extend some of their core players, it was an uneventful offseason for the Red Sox. Their two biggest FA signings were to bring back post season heroes, Nathan Eovaldi and Steve Pearce, and their biggest trade acquisition was Colton Brewer, a reliever from the Brewers. (Would have been cooler if he stayed where he was)

They also managed to sign ace starter Chris Sale to a 5 year, 145M extension, and just the other day also extended Xander Bogaerts for 6 years, 120M. A hanging cloud however is the fact that J.D. Martinez has an opt out after 2019. There is a widespread assumption he will exercise that opt out if he’s healthy. Then there is superstar and MVP Mookie Betts, who is a free agent after the 2020 season and does not seem amenable to a team friendly extension.

Notable losses for the Red Sox are mostly from the bullpen, Craig Kimbrel remains an unsigned free agent, and Joe Kelly is now with the Dodgers. For a much more detailed off season review, be sure to check out MLB Trade Rumors

The Diamondbacks are not without their own issues of course. It was announced today that Jake Lamb has a grade 2 strain of his left quad and will be out a minimum of 6 weeks, as a “starting point”, per Torey Lovullo.

Luvollo spoke at some length about how big a blow losing both Lamb and Souza was to the team.

Obviously a big blow to us, another big blow to us with the loss of Steven Souza..... two guys that you’re really counting on, two big horses in the race, that hurts. I’m not going to avoid thinking about it, I want to be real. I’m not going to try to sugar coat anything , because they are both very special players. In similar ways they are coming off 2018 injuries and you’re hoping that they’re going to be able to turn it around and come out and do what they’re supposed to do. It hurts double.

Torey indicated that while Christian Walker will get the bulk of the playing time at 1st, Wilmer Flores will also get some looks. Alex Avila would only be used at first in more of an emergency situation.

Red Sox: Who’s Hot ?

JD Martinez. 12 for 33, .364. 3 HR, 8 RBI, 1.053 OPS

Mitch Moreland. 6 for 22, 4 walks, 1 HR 5 RBI .930 OPS

Xander Bogaerts 7 for 25, .280, 4 Walks .899 OPS

Who’s Not:

Everyone else with more than 10 PA has under .700 OPS

As a team they are hitting .240/.306/.384, .690 OPS and scoring 4.1 R/G

By contrast, the DBacks hitters have gotten off to a hot start, batting

.280/.324/.526 .850 OPS, scoring 5.86 R/G , 5th best in MLB

DBacks team stat pages here. The offense has been lead by Christian Walker and Adam Jones.

Red Sox Pitching: See team stats here.

The Red Sox rank 28thin team ERA , 6.00. The DBacks rank 30th, 7.14 ERA, and also rank 30th in team FB velocity, 89.4 per Fangraphs . (MLB Avg is 92.7). Perhaps John Ryan Murphy’s outing drops the average a tick though.

The Red Sox have gotten just one quality start in 8 tries. That came from Chris Sale in his second start of the year vs the A’s, but they lost that game too, 1-0.

Matt Barnes and Ryan Brasier are sharing the closing duties, and neither has allowed a run yet. Brewer and Brandon Workman are also unscored upon so far. , As a whole, their bullpen has been pretty good. The main issue has been their rotation.

Pitching Matchups

Friday, April 5th, 4:10 PM

Rick Porcello, RHP, 0-1, 13.50 ERA vs. Zack Godley, RHP, 0-1, 11.81 ERA

Porcello lasted just 2.2 IP in his first outing , giving up 9 runs (4 earned) on 6 hits, 4 walks and homer. Porcello has a 4 pitch mix, with a Fastball that sits around 91-92, and his best pitch is his slider, but he throws his curveball and changeup almost as much.

Godley will look to rebound from an uneven season debut, brought on in part by a recurrence of the fielding problems that troubled him last year. Look to see if the Red Sox utilize the scouting report and attempt to bunt on him and make him field the ball, or if they are aggressive and swinging for the fences. The latter may play into Godley’s strength if he can keep them off balance with his curveball.

Saturday, April 6th, 5:10 P.M.

David Price, LHP 0-1, 6.00 ERA vs Luke Weaver 0-0, 8.31 ERA

Price pitched better than his final line looked as he gave up a 2 run homer in the 6thto end up with 4 earned runs against. The last couple of years Price has learned to deal with a little less velocity than he had in his Cy Young contending days, but he is still very effective throwing three types of fastballs, a 4 seamer, a sinker and a cutter, all at speeds ranging from 88-94, averaging about 92 these days. He compliments that with a changeup in the mid to low 80’s that he uses about 1/3 of the time.

Weaver will hope his pitching catches up to his hitting from last outing vs the Dodgers, as he gave up 3 in the 1st, 1 in the 3rdand 1 in the 4thand was unable to complete the 5thinning. He did seem to pitch better after the 1stinning though and hopefully can build off that.

Sunday, April 7th, 1:10 P.M.

Brian Johnson, LHP 1-0, 2.08 ERA. Vs Merrill Kelly, RHP 1-0, 4.50 ERA

As of this writing the Sunday starter for the Red Sox has still not been posted. By rotation turn it should be Chris Sale, who last pitched on April 2nd. Despite the quality start alarm bells have been ringing as he recorded the lowest velocity of his career in that start. Latest word I could find is he will pitch Tuesday at home.

Kelly turned in the DBacks first quality start in his MLB debut, allowing 3 runs in 6 IP. After the way the first 4 starters fared in LA, it almost felt like a complete game shutout. His Fastball averaged 91.5, and he mixed in his Curveball and Changeup with effectiveness to keep Padre hitters off balance.

Series Prediction: Do I really have to do this ? How about I predict a fun time at the ballpark. Even if not sold out there will be over 45,000 opening day. The team is expecting well over 100,000 for the weekend. As we know, the Red Sox travel well, and are loud. So drink some honey tea to sooth your throat before you head downtown and bring your best and loudest vocal chords. The team is going to need your support.