The Padres series went better than any Diamondbacks fan had reason to believe it would. There was a no hitter from the most unlikely of sources, a blowout win, and another strong outing from Madison Bumgarner. It took the return of young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr. for the Padres to salvage a win from the series.
The Phillies on the other hand are coming off back-to-back series losses to the Dodgers and Reds. Admittedly, those are two significantly better teams than the Diamondbacks, but the Phillies momentum is not what it could be either.
There are some question marks currently in the Diamondbacks starting rotation. With Taylor Widener being on the IL for “cold-like symptoms” and an undisclosed injury,it doesn’t look like he’ll be taking back his scheduled spot in the rotation any time soon. Also, there doesn’t seem to be word if they’ll be repeating the strategy used last time out of Caleb Smith taking the bulk of the innings in an opener situation.
Game 1: TBD vs. Kyle Gibson (8-4, 1.20 WHIP, 129 ERA+)
Kyle Gibson was originally drafted by the Phillies back in 2006, but did not play for them in the Big Leagues until being traded from the Rangers at the deadline this year along with old friend Ian Kennedy. He’s taken the mound three times for Philadelphia since the trade. The first two were strong outings, but last time around, he gave up 6 runs, 3 earned, in only four and a third innings against the Dodgers.
In case you were wondering, IPK is now in the bullpen and has recorded three saves in a Phillies uniform.
Game 2: TBD vs. Ranger Suarez (5-3, 0.87 WHIP, 375 ERA+)
Suarez started the season as a reliever and did phenomenally. Over the course of 40.1 innings pitched as a reliever, he only gave up a total of five earned runs. At the start of the month, he made the transition to the rotation, and has continued to do well there. He has been graduallly increasing his innings per start over the past two weeks, and last time out against the Dodgers went 4.1 innings and only gave up one earned run.
TBD Madison Bumgarner (6-7, 1.14 WHIP, 99ERA+) vs. Zack Wheeler
Madison Bumgarner is a very good pitcher. There are those who would tell you that mid and small market teams shouldn’t have very good pitchers and that the Diamondbacks should trade Bumgarner, or that they shouldn’t have signed him in the first place. It is my humble opinion that those people are wrong. I will not be taking questions at this time.
Zack Wheeler has started three times this month. Two of them were middle of the road starts against the Nationals and the Reds, 7.1 and 6 innings respectively, with four earned runs in both. The other was complete game, two hit shutout against the Mets. So as long as the Diamondbacks aren’t a trash fire of an organization who also wasted Wheelers prime seasons, they might have a chance.
This looks like a tough series for the Serpentines. It’s also hard to say without actually knowing who is going to pitch for them this series. Game 3 is probably a toss up, with two good starters on the mound. It will also be interesting to see how Suarez’ continued transition to starter goes. All that said, though, this is still the Diamondbacks, and I still have very little faith in them. My guess is they win won of the TBD games, and lose a close one in Game 3, giving the Phillies the series win.