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Series Preview # 50 : Diamondbacks vs Dodgers & The Wizard Returns

The Wiz enjoys the beach.
The Wiz enjoys the beach.
Photo by Mindy Schauer/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The Wizard returns.

I sat on my bench thinking masks were rare before they became cool before they became delightfully diverse. Mask on, mask off, mask on, mask off. Social distancing goes on and on and on. As my mind clears, I arrive at a soft mental quiet.

The vibration in the wind was less about almost nearly winning and slightly less about losing. The vibe felt like the twilight between sunny and darkness.

Boots lightly crunching on top the earth announced the Wizard’s approach. Boom! The quiet was broken with a loud thunder clap, and my eyes opened. The Wizard spoke with a face of fiery grit, “The truth can be a dark storm. When storms are fully experienced, often they leave behind a verdant path in their wake.”

“Then why can I clearly see the sunny side of the street?” The Wiz replied, “When you are in the twilight your path is grey, yet you are almost nearly on the sunny side but for the little things not yet mastered. Keep looking with a humble heart.”

The Wizard slowly smiled as his eyes twinkled. “Everybody knows the Dodgers stink!” So my friend the Wizard still had his sense of humor! My witty repartee, “A team by any other name smells as sweet.” The Wizard nodded, saying, “Just so.”

“Keep walking on the sunny side of the street.” As those words echoed in my mind, the Wiz turned and walked onward. Leaves on the ground lightly crackled with each step. The ripples in the air returned to silent stillness.

The Pitching Matchups.

Friday, Tony Gonsolin (2.93 ERA) vs Humberto Castellanos (4.11 ERA)

Tony Gonsolin is that rare pitcher who pitches better in the Majors than he did in the minors. His ERA improved from 4.35 in AAA (2019) to below three in each of his three seasons in the Majors. This season his weakness walking batters. His BB% is twice as high as any of the other Dodgers’ pitchers in the rotation.

The Diamondbacks won the last two gems that Humberto Castellanos started. They were away games against the Mariners and the Astros. Looking at pitchers who have started games this season for the Diamondbacks, Humberto Castellanos had the second lowest ERA.

Saturday, Clayton Kershaw (3.27 ERA) vs Zac Gallen (4.53 ERA)

Whether the Diamondbacks have winning chances depends on Clayton Kershaw, a likely future Hall-of-Famer. This season, when he allowed 2 runs or less, the Dodgers won 11 of 12 games. When he allowed 3 or more runs, the Dodgers lost 6 of 8 games. His awards include 3 Cy Youngs, a triple crown, an MVP, a gold glove, and 5 ERA titles.

This season, when Zac Gallen allowed 2 runs or less, the Diamondbacks won 3 of 9 games. When he allowed 3 or more runs, the Diamondbacks lost 11 of 12 games. In 2020, Zac Gallen was ninth in the voting for the Cy Young award. He has talent! If Clayton Kershaw stumbles, the Diamondbacks have real winning chances.

Sunday, Julio Urias (3.10 ERA) vs Humberto Mejia (7.20 ERA)

The Dodgers won the last 8 games that Julio Urias started. In those games, his ERA was 1.44. His patient approach contributed to winning his last eight games.

“I think everything comes with patience. Early on in my career it was just being patient with the opportunities I was given. Obviously there were some ups and downs, injuries, things that happened along the way, but there’s always been a learning experience and just staying patient.” — Julio Urias

At last season’s trade deadline, Humberto Mejia and Caleb Smith were acquired for Starling Marte. In this game, Humberto Mejia will make his fourth start as a Diamondback. With the caveats that 3 starts is a small sample size and ERA is another measure, this season’s 40.0 average game score is the 11th highest of the Diamondbacks starters. His last start was great until the third time through the order. My impression was that the Braves’ batters waited for high pitches and hit them for extra bases. In this game, the third time through the order will be worth watching to see whether he improves.