As we’ve heard, General Manager Mike Hazen has made it abundantly clear that how the team performs in this stretch against the NL West will determine what type of actions he takes at the trade deadline. You can listen to his comments HERE . I can’t over emphasize how important Hazen’s comments are to understanding the future of this team. He is never this straightforward or blunt in the media. So if you haven’t had a chance yet, have a listen. It’s not only about the trade deadline comments. You can hear the frustration and almost anger in his voice in the lead up to that bombshell.
The 18 game run up to the All Star Break, (which begins July 8th) could not have gotten off to a worse start, with the team being swept by the Colorado Rockies in the first three games of this nine game home stand. Failure to take at least two out of three from the struggling and pitching challenged San Francisco Giants would probably be a signal to Hazen that he doesn’t need to wait until the All Star Break to start making phone calls.
The Giants are having a bad season. They are currently 31-42, in last place, 4.5 games back of the 4th place DBacks and 18.5 G Back of the Dodgers. They rank dead last in the NL in team OPS+, and 13th in team ERA+ . Their biggest star, Buster Posey, who had surgery on his hip last year in August, is having a dreadful, injury marred season again. Recently activated from the IL after suffering a hamstring strain, he is 4 for 23 since returning, dropping his season batting line .246/.307/.383, .690 OPS 84 OPS+. Over the last two seasons he has 8 Homeruns in 640 PA.
Brandon Belt (112 OPS+) and Pablo Sandoval (129 OPS+) have been virtually the only offensive bright spots, and in Belt’s case it’s mostly due to a high walk total as he’s getting pitched around. His .233/.361/.434 triple slash with 9 HR constitutes one of the few guys in the lineup that can hurt you. Sandoval of course has continued his long, annoying habit of being a DBacks Killer. He is 6 for 12 with 2 HR and a 1.665 OPS against the Snakes this year. He’s always loved hitting in Chase field, slashing .335/.396/.510 .907 OPS in 265 Career PA. If somebody could fire up the Lundberg meme, reminding him that we have a humidor and slow turf to suppress his numbers here, that would be great.
Despite all that, they did manage series wins against the Padres and the Brewers recently, before losing 3 of 4 to the Dodgers this week. They narrowly missed a series split, as the last game included a controversial replay review that went against them to cost a victory. In fact, one would be hard pressed to say they have been any worse than the Dbacks over the last 30 games:
During their current 4 game losing streak, the DBacks have hit .262/.343./.366, .709 OPS but scored just 14 runs. The bugaboo of course has been hitting w/RISP, as they are just 7 for 42, .167 in those situations during this stretch. And during the Rockies series they were just 4 for 34, .118 wRISP. These things come in waves. In fact for the entire season the DBacks .267 BA W/RISP ranks 5th in the NL, and 8th in MLB. But the current situational slump could not have come at a worse time, at home, vs Divisional rivals. They’ll need to get back to cashing in some of those opportunities, and facing the Giants pitching staff should present plenty of opportunities.
Hot hitters for the DBacks include Ketel Marte , who is coming off a 4 hit game, albeit with some bloopers, and 4 straight game of 3 hits or more. Ketel is making a big push for the All Star Game. The Primary election ends at 4 P.M. today, should you wish to support him. VOTE HERE.
Christian Walker has also been pretty hot lately. On the flip side, Eduardo Escobar has been ice cold of late, and Carson Kelly and Jarrod Dyson have been struggling the last several games as well.
The Dbacks will face a trio of righty starters and will not see Madison Bumgarner in this series.
Jeff Samardzija signed a 5 year, $90M contract with the Giants prior to the 2016 season. This deal has not worked out too well for the Giants. Since then he’s gone 25-37, with a 4.28 ERA, 96 ERA+, and just 4.8 WAR. With 1.5 years and approximately 30M still to go on his contract, his name has been brought up in trade deadline rumors. With the exception of last year he’s always been a reliable innings eater. But his results have never seemed to match his stuff, as his FIP has been consistently better than his ERA through most of his career, with the notable exception of 2019, as you can see above. His avg FB velocity is down to 91.7 MPH, from the days when he averaged 94+. He no longer induces a high groundball percentage either. He’s been hit hard 3 of his last 4 starts. However he does have somewhat favorable matchup splits with the Dbacks hitters he’ll likely face. Splits HERE
Taylor Clarke has not pitched terribly in two of his last three games, but he’ll have to find a way to get off to a better start and not put his team in the hole early. He’s had trouble with the long ball lately, giving up 2 of them in each of his last two starts. He’ll hope to recreate one of his season highlights to date, when he pitched into the 7th inning and earned a victory against these very same Giants in this game on May 25th. My hope is that with the team having no choice but to keep him in the rotation, it will inspire him to be aggressive, throw strikes, attack the zone, and don’t nibble. If this is a must win series, this is probably a must win game, because........
**Note the late Saturday start time for this game
Tyler Beede was a first round draft pick for the Giants out of Vanderbilt back in 2014. While he hasn’t yet established himself as a major league starter, he had a very good outing vs. the Dodgers in his last start, allowing just 1 run in 6 innings to pick up his first career win. Beede throws a Four Seam, Change up and Curve. His four seamer is averaging just a hair under 95 MPH, and has a pretty good spin rate of 2318. But he must not command it well, as it’s been hit very hard. He has over 10 MPH separation between his FB and Change, and his batting against numbers on his off speed pitches are excellent.
Which brings us to yet another “Bullpen Game” for the Diamondbacks. While nothing has been officially announced, and it doesn’t really matter who “starts”. Neither Archie Bradley or Zack Godley has pitched since the debacle in Washington where they combined to give up 10 runs in 6 innings. Whatever order they are run out in, both of them will pitch in this game. Diamondback fans can only hope for better results. Bradley in particular has been a mystery. While his peripherals are pretty good, he has allowed a .406 BABIP against in 2019. A small percentage of that may be bad luck, however don’t look for me to hand wave this away as a luck issue. His hard hit percentage is over 44% and the 5th highest in MLB while his soft hit percentage is just 13.3%, 7th worst in MLB (among relievers with at least 30 IP.) Whether it’s because his pitches are too straight, or he’s tipping them, or putting them in bad locations, (most likely some combination of all three), Archie has struggled for a year now. Over his last 365 days, one full calendar year, in 69 IP he has a 5.09 ERA and a 1.551 FIP and .278 BA against.
As for Zack Godley, he continues to be plagued by inconsistent command and the long ball, (11 allowed in 59 IP). His numbers are somewhat better in relief, but he still has a 4.81 ERA in 24 relief innings and has allowing 6 of those 11 homers out of the bullpen. It’s been very much 1 step forward and 2 long strides backwards for Godley this year.
Considering that Yoan Lopez and Andrew Chafin each worked the last two games in a row, it’s likely Torey brings in T.J. McFarland and his 5.64 ERA/4.64 FIP at some point to face a left hand dominant Giants lineup. The Dbacks will need immediate improvement from all three of these pitchers to have a chance in this game.
Torey Lovullo just announced that Zack Godley would get the start and go as long as he can. He pointed out that Godley threw over 70 pitches last time out and is stretched out.
“Anderson relies on 5 pitches. Four Seamer (40%), Slider (28%), Sinker (18.2%), Changeup (10.2%), Curve (3.7%)”
His fastball sits in the low 90’s and his slider has elite spin rate and pitch movement. Looking at his game logs he’s been very consistent in his 7 starts so far, never going less than 5 IP, and allowing 3 runs or less in 6 of his 7 starts. In the lone start he failed to allow less than 3, he allowed 4.
Merrill Kelly is coming off one of his worst stats of the year, allowing 6 runs to the Rockies on June 18th. This was on the heels of a very dominant three start stretch. While Kelly’s game log may look a little less consistent than Anderson’s, he’s gotten into or beyond the 7th inning in 7 of his 15 starts, and failed to complete 5 IP in only 3 of them. Kelly has 7 quality starts on the year, (43%) behind Zack Greinke who has 13 QS. Luke Weaver has 6 QS in 11 Starts (55%). But he’s on the IL with no date set to even resume throwing. So I think it’s fair to say Kelly is now the DBacks #2 starter. He’ll need a lock down game on Sunday. It’s hard to imagine the Dbacks winning the series without a strong outing from him.
The DBacks backs are against the wall. They have to know it. The players and Torey Lovullo and his coaches are all well aware of Mike Hazen’s comments. Despite what happened against the Rockies, I think they’ll respond and win 2 out of 3 to take the series and keep their hopes alive.