The 6-10 Arizona Diamondbacks and the 9-6 Cincinnati Reds meet for their second and last series this year at Great American Ballpark. The three game set starts at 3:40 this afternoon Arizona time. The D-backs took two of three from the Reds back at Chase Field on April 9-11.
The Reds are still in first place in the NL Central a half game up on the 9-7 Brewers . After losing that series to the D-backs they lost 2 of 3 to the Giants but bounced back by taking 2 of 3 from cross state inter-league rivals Cleveland.
The D-backs salvaged a split of their 4 game series with the Nationals by winning on Sunday behind Madison Bumgarner. They are in 4th place in the NL West and 13th place in the National League, ahead of only the 4-12 Rockies, and 5-9 Nationals.
While they’ve cooled off some over the last week, the Reds still lead the NL in runs scored per game and are second only to the Dodgers in OPS and OPS+. The D-backs are 5th in RS/G despite only having the 10th best OPS+. They rank 13th in RA/G and 11th in ERA+
After getting off to an ice cold start, Joey Votto got hot in a big way. Probably an overreaction to making it on THIS LIST. He’s now raised his B.A. to .267 and has a 102 OPS+ Tyler Naquin has cooled off some and Eugenio Suarez continues to struggle. Hat tip to Keegan’s Snakebytes earlier today for alerting me the Reds will be without Nick Castellanos the first two games of this series . He’ll be serving a two game suspension for a brawl incident earlier this month. Slugger Aristides Aquino hit the DL and had to have the hook of his hamate bone removed. Third baseman Mike Moustakas missed three games last week with a non Covid related illness, but is expected to return to the lineup for this series. Outfielder Shogo Akiyama is nearing return from a hamstring injury but won’t be back yet for this series. Red IL list
Reds Last 6 games:
Continuing his terrific April, Carson Kelly is still the hottest D-backs hitter. Josh Rojas may be set up for improvement as he’s been taking walks and seeing the ball better of late. Eduardo Escobar’s power surge continues and he’s now tied for 2nd in MLB in HR with 6. After a hot start, Asdrubal Cabrera cooled off in Washington D.C., and Nick Ahmed has yet to get untracked since returning from the IL with Patella Tendonitis. The recent loss of backup centerfielder Tim Locastro to a dislocated pinky has thinned out even further an outfield missing Ketel Marte. (Hamstring). New addition Nick Heath will take over most of the centerfield duties for now. The D-backs have three other players on the IL, First Baseman Christian Walker, (Oblique) , Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard (60 day). Soria is very close to returning however. D-backs IL List
D-backs Last 6 Games:
Overall the ERA, FIP, and Inherited Runners Scored numbers favor the D-backs, while leverage metrics like Win Probability Added and Shutdowns/Meltdowns favor the Reds. Amir Garrett is still listed as their closer, though one wonders if he’s struggling to hold on to that role. Stefan Crichton converted his first save opportunity of the year on Sunday and while Torey Lovullo is using bullpen by committee for the time being Crichton’s last 4 outings have all come in the 9th inning.
STARTING PITCHING MATCHUPS
Zac Gallen is making his second start of the year since returning from a stress fracture in his elbow. Last time out against the A’s he went 4 innings, throwing 82 pitches, a few more than the team originally planned according to Matt Herges. He allowed just 1 run on a solo homer. He should be able to go 90+ pitches this outing.
Luis Castillo has been hit pretty hard in two of his three outings this year. He last faced the D-backs in September of 2019. The D-backs hitters will need look to catch up to his upper 90’s fastball and layoff his changeup.
With Madison Bumgarner finally turning in a good outing, the focus of concern for the D-backs rotation turns to Merrill Kelly. His stuff does not appear to be off of last year too much, just 1 MPH of velocity loss. But he sees big drops in game after the 1st or 2nd inning. He has been giving up a lot of hard contact and homers and needs to locate much better if he is going to recapture any of last season’s pre injury success.
Tyler Mahle generates a lot of swing and miss and strikeouts with his Fastball/Slider combo, but he walks a lot of guys too. (4.1/9 over last two seasons). He tossed 4 scoreless against the D-backs on April 9th, but threw 92 pitches, and walked 4 batters before being lifted. The D-backs need to maintain a very patient approach with him.
Taylor Widener continues to have good outings, going toe to toe with Max Scherzer in his last start, tossing 6 scoreless innings. He’s been throwing strikes 65.1% of the time, (lg avg is 63%). But his Strikeout looking percentage of 55% is more than 2.5 X league avg 23%. That’s not sustainable. His contact percentage of 79% is a bit high as well. (lg avg 73%) His line drive rate so far is an astronomical 35%, vs Lg. Avg 21.5%. So those factors plus his other peripherals such as FIP and xERA suggest some regression is coming. It always is when the ERA is that low anyway, unless you’re Jacob DeGrom. I’d be ecstatic if he could match his 3.63 FIP going forward. Sorry to be THAT guy.
Jeff Hoffman face the D-backs on April 10th, taking the loss while lasting just 4.1 IP, and allowing 3 runs on 6 hits, 3 walks and homer. But he bounced back against Cleveland last week, going 6 innings and allowing just 1 run despite giving up 7 hits and 3 walks. His season ERA may be under 3.00 , but his career ERA is over 6, and his peripherals suggest regression here as well. It’s a getaway day, and as such umpires strike zones tend to be a little bigger. But if not, this game could see a lot of early offense from both teams.