The D-backs enter this series on a five-game losing streak, having been swept by the Padres after dropping the last two games against these same Giants in Phoenix. That has pretty much killed off the wave of enthusiasm which saw the team reach a high of seven games above .500 after beating Colorado on May 4. Since then, the D-backs have gone 5-12, slipping back to an even record, and falling from one game to seven behind the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers. All is lost!
At the beginning of the season, if you’d told me the Diamondbacks would be 25-25 after the first fifty games of the campaign, I would have been all over that. Indeed, writing before the season and looking at the early schedule, which seemed thoroughly daunting at that point, Jack said, “If they manage to navigate the first 6 weeks of the season at .500 or better, the schedule does level out a bit going forward and they might just be looking to add some pieces by the all star break or trade deadline.” So, the pre-season expection was that a team which reached the current point with their actual record, would be more likely to be a buyer than a seller.
And the early schedule has been brutal, almost beyond belief, and probably beyond even what Jack foresaw in his article. Of these first fifty games played by the Diamondbacks, know how many have come against teams that currently possess losing records? Six. Three against these Giants and three against the Rockies. That’s it. 88% of our games have seen the D-backs face winners; next most is Seattle’s 75%. For the D-backs to have gone 22-22 is very good. Last year, the average performance across all MLB in such games was 37-49. Right now, only five teams in the majors have a better record against winning opponents than Arizona - and four of them are leading their divisions.
The schedule makers do now take their foot off Torey Lovullo’s neck for a little while. The next ten games are all against sub-.500 opposition, in the Giants, Rockies and Mets. The next spell is generally favorable, with series also against the Nationals and Blue Jays. Through one month from today, June 23, the Diamondbacks have 29 games and 23 see us go up against teams with losing records. The exceptions are three versus the Dodgers at Chase and three in Philadelphia. If we can average winning two-thirds of our games against “losers” and one-third against “winners” - not an unrealistic goal, I’d say - the D-backs will go 17-12, and should be right back in the wild-card hunt.
That process starts tomorrow against the Giants in San Francisco, and given we miss both Madison Bumgarner and Jeff Samidzija this time round, their two best starters, I’m optimistic the Diamondbacks can take advantage. Here are details of the three match-ups we will see at
AT&T This Space For Rent Park between now and Sunday.
Game 1: Robbie Ray (LHP, 3-1, 3.25 ERA) vs. Drew Pomeranz (LHP, 1-4, 5.66 ERA)
This is a rematch of the May 19th contest between the two sides in Phoenix. The Giants won that one 3-2, on the Obese Raccoon’s tenth-inning homer off Yoshihisa Hirano. Both starting pitchers were long gone by that point, neither of them having even qualified for a decision by making it through five innings. Pomeranz probably has a bit more of an excuse, it being his first start back off the IL. For Ray, it was the same old story, as he took 87 pitches to get through just four innings. He struck out six, but walked four and allowed two earned runs in his shorted start of the season. He has now gone 15 consecutive starts without recording an out after the sixth, tying a franchise record held by Max Scherzer and Miguel Batista.
Game 2: Taylor Clarke (RHP, 0-1, 2.00 ERA) vs. Andrew Suarez (LHP, 0-1, 4.50 ERA)
With the now apparently permanent demotion of Zack Godley to the bullpen (4 realz this time, guyz!), Clarke gets the call to replace him in an afternoon game. Taylor has one start under his belt, having taken the loss against the Rays on May 7. Though he was unlucky to do so, allowing two runs over six innings in a 6-3 defeat. He allowed seven hits and walked none, striking out a pair. But simply being “not Zack Godley” will likely be a significant improvement, considering Godley had a 7.90 ERA over 41 innings. With Merrill Kelly also struggling of late, Clarke has a very good chance to make this promotion a permanent one. Meanwhile, Arizona tattooed Suarez for eight runs in five innings, last time they saw him.
Game 3: Luke Weaver (RHP, 3-3, 3.14 ERA) vs. Shaun Anderson (RHP 0-0, 3.60 ERA)
After a shaky debut, Weaver has been a solid addition to the Diamondbacks rotation since his arrival as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade. He has not allowed more than three runs in nine consecutive appearances and has got better as the season has gone on. Specifically, Weaver is 4-for-4 in quality starts this month, and deserves a better record than 1-2, given his 2.42 ERA over that time. He has held opposing hitters to a .182 average in May, as well as posting an excellent 26:5 K:BB ratio over 26 innings in those outings. Rookie Anderson will be making only his third major-league appearance
Yeah, there’s not much about any of the three pitchers Arizona will be seeing in this series, which should strike fear into them. The Giants this year continue to struggle at the plate, with an offense by wRC+ ranked only ahead of the Marlins in the National League. Their pitching is little if any better. What has kept them somewhat afloat is their defense, second behind the Dodgers. Still they haven’t won a series at home since the opening day of the month, when they walked off the Dodgers in the rubber game of that set. They’ve split a two-game set with Toronto, and lost to Cincinnati and Atlanta. I see no reason why we should buck that trend.
How many games with the D-backs win in San Francisco?
This poll is closed
0 - Arizona suffers from ‘Vertigo’
1 - D-backs take a ‘Bullitt’
2 - My ‘Basic Instinct’ is a series win
3 - We play ‘Dirty Harry’ and feel lucky