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Series Preview # 19 : Diamondbacks @ Brewers

Which will decide the series - Diamondbacks offense or Brewers pitching?

Willy Adames shows excellent defense.
Willy Adames shows excellent defense.
Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

In the last week, the best Brewers’ batters were Kolten Wong and Willy Adames. That is surprising because these two players are awesome in defensive.

Kolten Wong’s defense at second base is the best in the Majors per The Fielding Bible. To learn more about this very interesting player, please read this article which is scheduled to post later this month.

The Brewers acquired Willy Adames from the Rays on 21 May as a defensive first shortstop. In his first 31 PAs with the Brewers, his 158 OPS+ is a career high . Although in the last 3 seasons Willy Adames’ defense at shortstop ranked high, Ahmed’s defense ranked higher:

  • 2019 Ahmed: 16 DRS ranked 4th vs Adames: 8 DRS ranked 8th
  • 2020 Ahmed: 4 DRS ranked 6th vs Adames: 2 DRS ranked 11th
  • 2021 Ahmed: 3 DRS ranked 4th vs Adames: 2 DRS ranked 9th

Looking more broadly at the two teams, the Diamondbacks are the better team in two areas:

  • The Diamondbacks team is better at defense (18 DRS vs 15 DRS through 2 June per the Fielding Bible).
  • The Diamondbacks scored more runs per game (4.40 vs 3.82 through 2 June per Baseball Reference).

The Brewers are the better team in pitching, both starting pitching and relief pitching. With 4.8 wins above average (WAA), the Brewers’ starters rank first in the Majors. The Diamondbacks rank 27th with negative 1.9 WAA. If the Diamondbacks keep the score close until the bullpens enter the game, it will be good news. Let’s look at the pitching matchups

Pitching Matchups

Thursday. Brett Anderson (4.18 ERA) vs Jon Duplantier (7.71 ERA in 1 start)

In April Brett Anderson injured his hamstring. With one exception, in May he left the game after less than 4 innings, indicating that he is not yet back to 100%. His sinker and changeup are his best pitches.

This spring training and this season, Jon Duplantier showed glimpses of the All-Star pitcher that he could become. It’s huge that 6 of the 8 go-to Brewers’ batters are lefties (Baseball Reference). It makes a difference because Jon Duplantier pitched better against left handed batters (2021 OPS .393 vs 1.204 and 2019 OPS .692 vs .838).

Jack Sommers wrote that now is the time to find out whether Jon Duplantier is a starter or reliever. He provided the following quote:

“He’s starting against Milwaukee tomorrow. If he can stay healthy I think it’s time to give him 12 uninterrupted starts and see if he can make it.” — Jack Sommers

For the Diamondbacks, this game is the best matchup of the series. In the next three games, the Diamondbacks could face the three best Brewers’ starting pitchers.

Friday. TBA, possibly Freddy Peralta (2.38 ERA) vs Matt Peacock (4.50 ERA).

Freddy Peralta’s 13.182 strikeouts per 9 innings leads the NL. Although he has four effective pitches (fastball, slider, curve, and changeup), his 4 seam fastball is the best by a large margin per run value in Baseball Savant.

I have confidence that Matt Peacock will continue to pitch well because his xERA and xwOBA were at the 66th percentile in the Majors and his BB% was at the 99th percentile (Baseball Savant). Of the Diamondback starters, Peacock’s 54.4 average game score ranked second (Zac Gallen ranked first).

5 of Peacock’s 6 strikeouts came on sliders. That’s a pitch he needs to develop in order to stay in the rotation past this season. Could have a very long career as a sinker/slider pitcher since those two pitches when tunneled well are tough to hit.

Posted by Michael McDermott on May 30, 2021 | 7:22 PM reply rec flag

This game could be won by either team.

Saturday. TBA, possibly Brandon Woodruff (1.27 ERA) vs Merrill Kelly (4.84 ERA).

In his last two games, Brandon Woodruff struck out 18 batters while allowing zero walks. Although he has four effective pitches (fastball, sinker, curve, and slider), his 4 seam fastball and his sinker are best by a large margin per run value in Baseball Savant.

On 15 April, Merrill Kelly’s season ERA peaked at 8.44. Since then his it dropped steadily to 4.84. He is definitely improving this season. Jack Sommers asked Merrill Kelly how he gets into his mindset. His answer was preparation and he implemented things to quickly snap out of it when his mindset is on the wrong path.

“...I think confidence in this game a lot comes from preparation. If you put the work in between starts then my mind is pretty clear going into each and every start....” — Merrill Kelly

Sunday. TBA, possibly Corbin Burnes (2.33 ERA) vs TBA, possibly Caleb Smith (3.27 ERA).

Although Corbin Burnes has 3 effective pitches (cutter, slide, and curve), his cutter is best by a large margin per run value in baseball Savant.

Caleb Smith’s fastball is his best pitch per run value in Baseball Savant. His whiff rate is at the 82nd percentile. He worked hard to return from the bullpen to a starter role on 1 June. In that game he showed his capability to start games. In this game, I suspect he may surprise fans to the upside.

“Whenever they told me that I was getting the start, I knew it was my opportunity to go out there and show them what I can do and try to earn that spot back in [the] rotation.” — Caleb Smith