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Series Preview #45: Diamondbacks vs. Rangers

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The Rangers come to town for a quick, two-game series

A close up of the Texas Rangers logo painted on the foul territory grass at Surprise Stadium during Spring Training Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After what would have been a soul-crushing series against the Mariners if this team had any soul left to crush, the Diamondbacks welcome the Texas Rangers to Chase Field for a two game set, continuing our stretch of interleague play. The Rangers just split a series against the Los Angeles Shohei Ohtanis of Anaheim, but are languishing in last place in their division, with a record that probably doesn’t feel that much different to their fans. If you look up meaningless September baseball in an encyclopedia, you’ll find this series preview.

Game 1: Zac Gallen (2-8, 1.32 WHIP, 97 ERA+) vs. Spencer Howard (0-3, 1.54 WHIP, 64 ERA+)

Last time out, Zac Gallen had a bit of a rough outing against the Padres. He went six innings, gave up five hits and three earned runs. Not horrible, but also not going to win you a ton of ball games when your offense gets shut out. Also not helping his cause was tying his season high for walks at 4. Padres are a much better team than the Rangers, though, so perhaps a better game to look at for comparison is his start against the Rockies three starts ago, where he went seven scoreless innings in Coors Field.

Howard has been an opener/reliever this season, first for the Phillies and now for the Rangers. He’s had three “starts” since coming over at the deadline in the trade that sent Old Friend Ian Kennedy to the Phillies. He hasn’t done a great job at it, though, giving up three runs in 2.1 innings his first appearance, and five runs in two innings his third and most recent appearance. Getting to Howard early could set the stage for the whole series.

Game 2: Luke Weaver (3-3, 1.13 WHIP, 102 ERA+) vs. Kohei Arihara (2-3, 1.40 WHIP, 71 ERA+)

Luke Weaver made his return from the injured list in his last start, after being on the shelf since the middle of may, and did about as well as I think anyone could have reasonably hoped for. 6 IP, 4H, 1ER, 0BB, and 3K is not bad at all. The Diamondbacks will look to see if that continues, in what is basically a preview of what we can hopefully expect from Weaver in the 2022 season.

This is Kohei Arihara’s first season in the America, having spent six seasons in the NPB. In his Japanese career, he put up a 3.74 ERA. As he’s made the transition to MLB, things haven’t gone quite as smoothly for him. He’s put up a 6.19 ERA, which is actually almost half a run lower than his FIP. He was demoted to the minors in the middle of May, and was recently brought back up as a September call up. His only start since then was a 3.1 inning start where the only damage against him was a solo home run.

Conclusion

I think the pitching matchups in this short series are very favorable for the Diamondbacks. Luke Weaver had a couple of scoreless outings back-to-back before he went on the IL, and seems to have continued where he left off now that he is back. Additionally, while Gallen might not be as good this season as he was in 2019, I still think that the pitching matchup in that game heavily favors the Diamondbacks. I see us easily sweeping both games.