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Series Preview #33: Diamondbacks @ Rangers

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The Battle of the Lightweights

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks
Taylor Widener will get the ball tonight for Arizona
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The 31-70 Diamondbacks make their first ever visit to Globe Life Field BEFORE FANS to play the 35-65 Texas Rangers over the next two nights. [Hat tip DC, they visited Globe Life last year in Covid Season] Both teams sit in last place in their respective divisions, and have occupied that spot since the end of last season. While the new ballpark has often been roasted on social media for resembling a BBQ grill, or the Chernobly Sarcaphagus, (both puns intended by the way), the D-backs won’t care. In fact it will feel familiar to them. Indoors, air conditioned, on almost exactly the same turf as they play on at Chase Field. The one big difference is despite having a bad team, Texas fans have actually turned out for the Rangers and there will likely be around 20,000 in the ballpark for both weeknight games. Texas is 22-25 at home, but a dismal 13-40 on the road.

The Rangers, lead by general manager and former MLB pitcher Chris Young are rebuilding and certainly in “sell mode” this week. However interestingly enough they are considering extending Joey Gallo rather than trade him. The 27 year old Gallo is having a good season, posting a 137 OPS+ with 24 HR and 52 RBI despite a .222 B.A.

Centerfielder Adolis Garcia has a 113 OPS+ and 22 HR, and first baseman Nate Lowe has a 108 OPS+ and 12 HR. These are the only starters with OPS+ over 100 for Texas.

Their best starter has been Kyle Gibson, who is signed to a team friendly deal and is under control through 2022. He’s been mentioned in many trade rumors. It looks like we won’t see him in this series however. Former D-back Ian Kennedy is having a good season as a closer for Texas, (2.54 ERA, 15 saves). He’s a free agent next year and certainly on the block. Other than Brock Holt and Delino Deshields , who don’t have much if any market, they don’t really have any other free agents to sell at this point however

The Diamondbacks traveled into Dallas from Chicago having just dropped two of three in the windy city. They are 9-10 for the month of July despite getting outscored 113 to 80.

These two games may possibly be the last two chances to see a few fan favorites play for the team including Eduardo Escobar and David Peralta. The trade deadline is Friday, and whatever happens will happen before Friday night’s game at Chase. You can keep up on D-backs related trade deadline rumors in this thread.

Torey Lovullo will get to the use the DH in these two games. Hopefully we get to see his best defensive lineup with Stuart Fairchild in center but I won’t hold my breath as the Rangers will have two righties going in this series.

Pitching Matchups

Tuesday, July 27th, 5:05 P.M. Arizona Time

Taylor Widener: 7 G, 33 IP, 3.55 ERA, 5.40 xERA, 5.18 FIP, 9 K/9, 3 BB/9, 1.9 HR/9

Taylor had 8 K’s and managed to work out of trouble early in his last start against the Pirates, but got banged up in the 4th and 5th innings and ultimately gave up 5 runs in 4.2 IP in a game the D-backs came back to win 11-6. The long ball has been his biggest issue this year (and last) and is why his peripherals have been so much worse than his ERA. They can’t all be solo shots and he needs to start limiting hard contact with better location on the corners and just off the plate. His stuff just doesn’t move enough otherwise to induce soft contact.

Dane Dunning: 18 GS, 83.2 IP, 4.30 ERA, 4.09 xERA, 3.62 FIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1 HR/9

The 26 year old Dunning was drafted in the first round, 29th overall by the Nationals in 2016. Just 6 months later he was traded to the White Sox along with Lucas Giolito for Adam Eaton. He made it to the majors last year and did well, posting sub 4 ERA and sub 4 peripherals in 7 starts. But he was traded again, this time for Lance Lynn.

Overall, he’s pitched well for a bad team, despite his 3-7 record. He’s been somewhat inconsistent however. He has an average game score of 50. That includes 7 starts with a game score above 60, but 6 starts with game scored 39 or lower.

His repertoire is primarily sinker/slider with an occasional changeup. The sinker doesn’t light up any radar guns, averaging 90.5 MPH. He has a 54% groundball rate, but can give up a lot of hits at times and his 9 ground ball DP in 68 opportunities is only slightly better than league average.

Wednesday July 28th, 5:05 Arizona Time

Madison Bumgarner: 14G, 70.2 IP, 5.09 ERA, 4.44 xERA, 4.37 FIP, 8.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 1.4 HR/9

Madbum had a no decision in his last start, giving up 3 runs, just 1 earned in 5 innings of work. In his two starts since coming off the IL he’s thrown 11 innings, given up 5 runs, 2 earned runs, on 9 hits, walked one, struck out 7, and allowed just 1 HR.

The peripherals are better than the ERA, but they’re still not great. Madison is capable of having some very good starts when his command is spot on. But it’s looking like over a full season those peripherals are probably the best we can hope for at this point.

Texas is Showing TBD for this game. By turn it should be journeyman Jordan Lyles .

20 G, 107 IP, 5-7 with a 5.20 ERA, 5.47 xERA, 5.53 FIP, 7 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 2 HR/9

HE gives up A LOT of homers, 24 in 107 IP. He throws a 93 MPH four seamer, a slider and a changeup. The slider is probably his best pitch. If he’s not throwing it for strikes, or hitters can lay off it and swing at his fastball, they can do a lot of damage.

The Rangers are a bad baseball team. But their bullpen is better than ours and they play decently at home. The D-backs will have to be satisfied with a split in this series.