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Series Preview # 4 : Diamondbacks vs Athletics

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Will the Diamondbacks and Athletics split this 2 game series?

Geraldo Perdomo’s shoes.
Geraldo Perdomo’s shoes.
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

This season, the Athletics and the Diamondbacks have a lot in common.

This season, each team stole one base in their first three games. Ramon Laureano stole third base while Tim Locastro stole second base. In the next seven games Laureano stole 4 more bases. Tim Locastro made history when he stole another base on 10 April. It was his 28th consecutive steal without getting caught, breaking the record of Hall of Famer Tim Raines. Tim Locastro’s cleats will be sent to the Hall of Fame!

Each team started the season with a losing streak (Diamondbacks 3 games, Athletics 6 games). After their streaks, each team won 3 games through 10 April. The Diamondbacks pulled ahead by winning on 11 April.

Each team’s manager has managed the Diamondbacks. The Athletics manager, Bob Melvin, managed the Diamondbacks for four seasons and part of a fifth season (2005 to 2009). At this point in time, the same is true about Torey Lovullo (2017-2021). Both managers won the NL Manager of the Year Award while managing the Diamondbacks (2007 and 2017).

Each team has a top defensive prospect who plays shortstop. Both prospects have high grades for fielding (60 to 65), running (60), and arm (60) per MLB.com.

“[Nick] Allen’s defense will always outshine his offense. He is spectacular in every facet of the position, whether it be range, hands or footwork. He also has a strong arm that lends to him making any throw from any angle. All put together, Allen has the makings of a future Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop.” — MLB.com Prospect Report

“[Geraldo] Perdomo is the best defensive player in Arizona’s system and a lock to stick as a shortstop. His blend of plus speed and long, quick strides gives him range in all directions on the dirt, and he’s long received rave reviews for his slick actions, soft hands and plus arm strength. He also earns high marks for having an excellent internal clock and an overall advanced feel for playing the position.” — MLB.com Prospect Report

Prior to 2021, neither top defensive prospect played above A-ball in the minors. They are progressing quickly.

  • “This spring is important for [Nick Allen]. He’s a top prospect of ours, and we want to take a hard look at him.” — Bob Melvin
  • Geraldo Perdomo was called up to the Majors because Nick Ahmed’s knee was slow to heal. Although he will platoon with Josh Rojas, it will be fun to see him play shortstop. Oh, did I mention that Perdomo’s grades for hitting and power are 55 and 45? Pretty good for a defensive first shortstop.

Pitching Matchups.

Monday. Chris Bassitt (5.56 ERA) vs Madison Bumgarner (11.00 ERA)

In his first game of the season, Chris Bassitt needed only 68 pitches to complete 5.1 innings against the Astros. Although he allowed 3 ERs, I was favorably impressed by four things:

  • In the first 3 innings, no batter reached base.
  • In the next two innings, only 1 run scored.
  • In the sixth inning he got one out before allowing two baserunners. Petit finished the inning while allowing both his baserunners to score.
  • During spring training he improved his slider.

“It’s a new look [on my slider]. You always have to be one step ahead of batters in the league, and this is my one step ahead of people. If I put another pitch in hitters’ head, it’s going to be a great thing for me. It’s a pitch that’s definitely going to help me this year.” —Chris Bassitt

In his second game of the season, Chris Bassitt needed 102 pitches to complete 6 innings against the Dodgers. I was impressed that after Dodgers got on base the first 4 innings, he put away 6 Dodgers in a row in the 5th and 6th innings.

In his first two games of the season, Madison Bumgarner needed 190 pitches to complete 4 innings against the Padres and 5 innings against the Rockies. His 11 ERs resulted from allowing 15 hits and 5 walks. His Bill James Game Scores were 27 and 33. Those scores were lower than 6 of his 9 starts last season (which was a disappointing season). I re-checked this comparison three times because it weakens my belief that Bumgarner will improve soon.

When Madison Bumgarner reaches his goal of consistently disrupting batter timing, it will be a big step towards being the Diamondbacks Ace in the rotation. Until then, this matchup is advantage Athletics.

Tuesday. Jesus Luzardo (6.10 ERA) Athletics vs TBA Diamondbacks

In his first two games of the season, Jesus Luzardo needed 196 pitches to complete 5 innings against the Astros and 5.1 innings against the Dodgers. His 7 ERs resulted from 13 hits and 5 walks. His Bill James Game Scores were 38 and 52.

Luzardo’s most remarkable pitch is called the Turkey Sub. More details can be found in this SB Nation article. It is similar to a 65 mph curveball. Will the Diamondbacks swing at it? I’m looking forward to seeing that pitch!

TBA Diamondbacks is Merrill Kelly (8.10 ERA) or Zac Gallen!(spring training ERA 2.13)

If Zac Gallen returns to start this game, it will be awesome! Even if he is on a limited pitch count, this matchup is a huge advantage Diamondbacks.

In his first two games of the season, Merrill Kelly needed 184 pitches to complete 10 innings against the Padres and Rockies. His 9 ERs resulted from allowing 14 hits and 3 walks. His first Bill James Game Score was 41. That was his lowest score in over a year (September 2019). His next Game Score was 29.

The bright side is that Kelly pitched 4 consecutive innings (2nd - 5th) at Coors Field with only 1 ER. Because I predict his ERA will align with how well he pitches, Kelly is overdue for some great results.