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Series Preview #22: Diamondbacks @ Phillies

DBacks Phace the Phirst Place Phillies for a Three Game Set

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at San Diego Padres Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Weather Alert: It’s storming in Philadelphia and expected to be heavy rain from 4 PM Eastern Time onwards. See hourly forecast HERE . Delays or cancellation possible.

PHILLIES 37-28, +24 Run Differential

The Phillies stand alone in first place atop the NL East, one game clear of the Atlanta Braves. This may be somewhat surprising considering that:

  • Bryce Harper is having a sub par season marred by occasional tantrums
  • Their bullpen has been decimated by injury
  • Stalwart starters Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta are not having great seasons
  • They’ve lost Andrew McCutchen for the year to a torn ACL.

Still, the Phillies have a good roster. They are getting strong contributions from off season acquisitions J.T. Realmuto (104 OPS+, 2.1 WAR) and Jean Segura (107 OPS+, 1.4 WAR) . Rhys Hoskins continues to be a steady power source, leading the team with a 131 OPS+ and 13 HR.

Recently acquired slugger Jay Bruce has come in red hot for the Phils, going 8 for 21 with 4 HR and 11 RBI in his first 6 games, more than filling the gap left by McCutchen’s injury. Did you know Bruce has 303 career homers and already has 18 this year ?

Off the bench Scott Kingery is rocking a .310 Batting Avg with 14 extra base hits in just 100 At bats.

They are 31-17 against Right Handed Starting Pitching, and 22-12 at home. However their team OPS is actually lower against RHP than LHP, (.726 vs. .767).

Their biggest issue at the moment is probably their bullpen. Their INJURED LIST includes off season signing David Robertson who has only given them 6+ ineffective innings this year. Fireballing Seranthony Dominguez is out indefinitely with an elbow injury. Pat Neshek is on the shelf, as is lefty Adam Morgan.

Closer Hector Neris is having a big bounce back year, (1.95 ERA, 13 Saves). But getting the ball to him may be an issue. For the month of June the Phillies have a 5.40 Bullpen ERA and .403 wOBA against.

Suggested Links:

Phillies Baseball Reference Page

Phillies Fangraphs Page

Baseball Reference Series Preview

Phillies last 7 days batting

I usually like to do head to head stat tables. But check out the one I found HERE on our sister site the Good Phite. It blows mine away. Click through, it’s pretty cool, (and encouraging)

DIAMONDBACKS, 34-32, +56 Run Differential

The Dbacks are coming off a series sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays and are riding a four game win streak. While still 11 games back of the Dodgers in the NL West, they’ve climbed back into the NL Wild Card race, and are currently tied with the Rockies, 2.5 games back of the Braves.

The DBacks of course have been battling injuries all year long as well. Adam Jones and Nick Ahmed are the most recent additions to the list of injury concerns the team faces. Jones has been nursing a sore hamstring and has not played since exiting last Tuesday’s game against the Dodgers, and Ahmed left yesterday’s game with a sore foot and is day to day.

While Kevin Cron has given the team a boost off the bench, back in the NL without the DH will limit his playing time. Tim Locastro has been filling in admirably, playing an all around hustle game. But every day play may be exposing him a bit, as over the last week he’s not been getting on base nearly as much. Still he had a huge three run triple yesterday, and seems to do something to help the team win every day.

DBacks last 7 Days Batting Splits

Pitching Matchups

Taylor Clarke is making his fourth start of the year for the Diamondbacks. The only blemish so far has been one bad outing in Coors field. In his last start he valiantly tried to keep his team in the game, allowing three runs, two earned to the Dodgers in five innings in a game the DBacks went on to lose 9-0. Clarke throws mostly a Four Seam, Slider, Changeup repertoire but will mix in a Curve or Sinker here and there. He averages 93.1 MPH with his Four Seamer, which he uses almost half the time and it has some late break due to a decent spin rate.

Jerad Eickhoff had a bounce back outing vs. San Diego last time out after a rough four game stretch in May. Not a hard thrower, (89.5 MPH Four Seamer), he relies on his Curve and Slider over 60% of the time. He has elite spin rates on all three of his pitches and gets a ton of movement. The DBacks will need to be patient and wait him out.

Jon Duplantier is making his third start of the season. Last time out he threw five strong innings against the Dodgers, allowing two runs and striking out seven. Dup relies on 5 pitches, Sinker (35.%), Four Seam (24%) Slider (16%) Curve (15%) Changeup (11%). That five pitch mix makes him quite a handful, and while he’s taken a little off his velocity, (averaging about 92.5 between four seam and sinker) when he is locating he is very tough to hit. He’s been praised for his poise and mound presence.

Jake Arietta still relies mostly on his heavy sinker, which he throws 54% of the time. While averaging 92.7 MPH on the pitch that’s about 2 MPH off his Cy Young peak in 2015, Jake’s seen his ERA and FIP rise each of the last 4 seasons. He’s coming off two really bad starts against the Dodgers and Padres, but has been somewhat better at home this year. David Peralta is the only DBack that has had more than 10 PA vs Arrieta and hasn’t had much success. Head to Head Matchups HERE . Looking at his game log, one can see he is still capable of going 7-8 innings and allowing 3 runs or less. He’s done that four times this year and he’s got 8 quality starts as well. So he’s still a tough opponent, just no longer the Cy Young contender he used to be.

Merrill Kelly is coming off two straight strong starts, going seven innings and allowing just one run in each of them. He struck out a career high 10 Mets in his last outing. While Kelly doesn’t throw as hard as was reported at the time of his signing, he features elite spin rates and movement on his pitches, especially his curve.

Zack Efflin is enjoying the best season of his career to date, although his peripherals suggest his ERA might be a good deal lower than it should be. He’s doing a great job of not putting men on base via the walk though, and the line drive rate is only 15% (hence the .269 BABIP). He’s a power pitcher, featuring a 94 MPH four seam fastball and a hard slider. He’ll also mix in the occasional sinker and changeup.


While the DBacks have been getting a lot of mileage out of ambushing fastballs, I believe the key to the offense this series is being patient and working the count against their starters, who all look pretty solid to me. Their bullpen is struggling right now. The DBacks just need to keep things close and then try to take advantage in the later innings. That’s tougher to do on the road of course when you don’t have last ups. But the Philly pen is vulnerable right now.

The other key is DBacks pitchers just can’t walk guys. They are going to give up some home runs this series. It’s a home run ballpark, and Philly hits a lot more of them at home, (45 HR at home vs 31 on the road).

The odds are Philly wins this series 2-1. It’s tough to go in there with three rookie starters in a row and come out with more than one win.