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Series Preview # 24 : Diamondbacks vs Brewers

Brad Boxberger on the mound.
Brad Boxberger on the mound.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The hot batters for the Brewers prior to the last series between the Diamondbacks & Brewers were Willy Adames and Kolten Wong. If you like interesting success stories, I recommend this AZ Snake Pit article about Kolten Wong.

Although 3 RBIs on 17 June by Luis Urias was impressive, the hot batter for the Brewers prior to this series was Christian Yelich. As of 17 June, his OPS was .854 with 2 Homers and 11 RBIs in 62 PAs. Christian Yelich has three silver slugger awards.

Let’s put the Brewers’ hot batters in context of good news and bad news.

  • The good news is that the Diamondbacks’ runs per game is higher than the Brewers (4.26 vs 3.94 as of 17 June).
  • The bad news is that the Brewers starting pitching ranked second in the Majors with 4.9 wins above average (games through 17 June).
  • The silver lining is that the Brewers relief pitching ranked 15th in the Majors. Diamondbacks may score runs late in the game.

The Brewers’ reliever with the most games in relief is Brad Boxberger, who was a Diamondback in 2018.

Brad Boxberger as a Diamondback.

At the end of spring training, Brad Boxberger was designated as the team’s closer, leaving other roles for Yoshihisa Hirano and Archie Bradley.

“Through June 4th [2018], Brad Boxberger was everything the Diamondbacks could have hoped for. He sported a 1.88 ERA with 13 saves and only one blown save.” — James Attwood in his season review of Boxberger

After that, Boxberger began to tire from overuse (James Atwood noted that his performance on back-to-back days was a problem). His performance declined from All-Star to merely great. He ended the season at a 4.39 ERA with 32 saves and 8 blown saves.

“We’ll always have the great emoji jersey because of him.” —James Attwood

Brad Boxberger as a Brewer.

In 2020, prior to pitching for the Brewers, Brad Boxberger significantly improved his pitching (his ERA+ improved from 89 to 154). He continued to build on that success.

In 2021 with the Brewers, with the help of advanced technology, Brad Boxberger took his pitching to an All-Star level.

“Those improvements have continued with the Brewers, who have become known for their high-tech pitching lab and success in the area of pitching development.” — Jack Stern in his article for Brew Crew Ball (SB Nation).

“The technology is incredible. Everybody is different in how they [make changes], but me, I need visual. I just can’t translate the numbers into what I’m working on. Some guys can. But we’re all trying to get better, trying to get that next tip and get to the next level. Something like this can take you from a two-pitch pitcher to a three-pitcher.” Josh Hader

For more information on the Brewers lab, see Adam McCalvy’s article for

This season, two minor league contracts were stepping stones to the Majors. In spring training Brad Boxberger had a minor league contract with the Brewers. They released him on 26 March. At that point, perhaps the Diamondbacks missed a chance to again sign Brad Boxberger. A week later, he signed another minor league contract with the Brewers.

His 2.93 ERA was outstanding. Through 17 June, his ERA+ of 141 was the best in the Brewers bullpen except for the closer, Josh Hader whose ERA+ of 636 was other worldly. Hader’s 3.0 WPA ranked first in the Majors.

This season Brad Boxberger is a reliable relief pitcher. Two methods that I rely on to measure relief pitcher reliability are explained in this article, which is scheduled to post on Tuesday.

  • Got the job done. This is a measure of how often he allowed zero runs. Through 15 June, his 76.7% exceeded my demarcation of 67.7 for a reliable pitcher.
  • Broken goose eggs. Broken goose eggs is a measure of how often he allowed an earned run in close games. Through 15 June, his 25% broken goose eggs was better than my demarcation of 30% for a reliable pitcher.

Let’s look at the pitching matchups

Pitching Matchups

Monday. Brett Anderson (4.24 ERA) vs TBA possibly Merrill Kelly ( 5.40 ERA)

Brett Anderson’s latest start was his best of the season. He pitched 7 innings while allowing 1 hit, zero runs, with 9 strikeouts and 1 walk. Nevertheless, the Diamondback hitters have his number. On 3 June they got 8 hits, 3 earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Merrill Kelly is the workhorse of the rotation having started the most games (14). He had a six game streak with an average game score of 50 or higher (27 April to 26 May). The Diamondbacks won four of the games he started.

For the Diamondbacks, this game is the best matchup of the series. I predict the Diamondbacks will win this game.

Tuesday. Freddy Peralta (2.28 ERA) vs TBA, possibly Zac Gallen (3.99 ERA).

Freddy Peralta’s 12.480 strikeouts per 9 innings leads the NL. This season, the Brewers won 10 of the 14 games which he started, including the game against the Diamondbacks. In that game, he pitched 7.1 innings while allowing 1 hit and 1 earned run. This game will be a challenge for the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks’ most promising rotation pitcher is Zac Gallen, who will likely start this game. He is completing his rehab in the Majors, so his pitch count will be limited. His first rehab start was against the Giants and his pitching was impressive in the first inning. I expect this game to show that his rehab is progressing.

This matchup is advantage Brewers.

Wednesday. Brandon Woodruff (1.94 ERA) vs TBA, possibly Caleb Smith (3.21 ERA).

Brandon Woodruff’s 210 ERA+ is the highest in the Brewers rotation. Like Freddy Peralta, the Brewers won 10 of the 14 games which he started. Better than Freddy Peralta, in three of the four losses, he allowed only 1 earned run. In his start against the Diamondbacks, he pitched 5 innings while allowing 6 hits and 2 earned runs. This game will be challenging for the Diamondbacks.

Since Caleb Smith returned to the starter role on 1 June, his ERA was 3.10 and he pitched 5.08 innings per game. In June, he owns the Diamondbacks’ best three game scores.

Caleb Smith’s return marked the last win prior to the 17 game losing streak in June. If the Diamondbacks’ losing streak continues, and if the Diamondbacks win this game, the two wins with Caleb Smith as the starter would bookend the losing streak. That would be a positive statistic to remember.

This matchup is advantage Brewers.