Well that was exciting. The Diamondbacks are coming off possibly the most surprising series win in at least a season or two, finally taking two out of three from the Dodgers. Per Bob Nightingale on Twitter, this is the first time the Diamondbacks have taken a series from Los Angeles since 2019. So definately a pleasant surprise, even if it took Max Muncy forgetting how to throw a baseball.
Our hosts, the Cardinals, are coming off something of an interesting series with the Mets. Lots of hot tempers, including one benches clearing brawl this weekend, stemming from the Mets thinking that the Cards were intentionally throwing at them, which was weird, because the Cards seemed to think the same thing about the Mets. IDK. If the Cards were throwing at the Mets, didn’t really work out well for them, as the Mets took the first two games of the series before the Cardinals put up a 10 spot in the last game of the series
Game 1 - 4/28, 4:45 PM first pitch: Humberto Castellanos (1-0, 1.25 WHIP, 133 ERA+) vs Dakota Hudson (1-1, 1.71 WHIP, 93 ERA+)
New father takes the mound for his first start since returning from paternity leave. He is making his third start for the Diamondbacks this season, after starting the season in the bullpen before replacing Caleb Smith. He’s got an even three ERA for the season, but that’s pretty heavily inflated by a two run relief appearance. Both of his starts have come against the Mets, so he’ll get his first look at different opponent tonight.
After a couple of short, rough starts at the beginning of the year, Hudson put up a gem against the lowly Reds last time out, throwing 6 2⁄3 inning of scoreless baseball while only allowing two hits. He did however, give up four walks, so hopefully the Diamondbacks will bring some of that patience at the plate they’ve shown so far this year to get those extra baserunners.
Game 2 - 4/29, 5:15 PM: Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 1.22 WHIP, 393 ERA+) vs. Adam Wainwright (2-2, 1.57 WHIP, 95 ERA+)
Maybe some stat person will come along and tell me that this is still too small of a sample size, but honestly, that ERA+ seems sustainable for Bumgarner. Nope, don’t see a reason why that won’t continue. Last start out, he finally seemed to make an adjustment and get the walks under control, not walking any Mets over the course of five innings. He got saddled with the loss, however, when an unearned run, courtesy of our surprisingly terrible defense, ended up being the deciding factor in the game.
To put in context just how long of a career Wainwright has had. He was drafted seven years before Bumgarner was and had been in the majors for four years when Bumgarner made his debut. It’s worth appreciating just how good he has been at points in his career, since he said this will probably be his last season. He has put up an ERA+ of over 140 for an entire season four times in his career, got Cy Young and MVP votes in five different seasons, over the course of twelve years, and has been a fixture in the rotation for a team known for it’s pitching his entire career. He’s obviously not as good as he once was, but he’s still a solid pitcher, and exactly the type that could give this offense fits.
Game 3 - 4/30, 11:15 AM: Merrill Kelly (1-1, 1.26 WHIP, 232 ERA+) vs. Miles Mikolas (1-0, 0.94 WHIP, 101 ERA+)
Merrill Kelly just keeps doing his thing. He took his first loss of the season last time out against the Dodgers, but frankly, if you could promise me six innings and three runs against that team every time out, I’d be thrilled. Other than that, he hasn’t given up multiple runs in a game, gone 5+ innings in three of his four starts, and is pretty much been exactly what we’ve come to expect from possibly the most underrated pitcher in baseball.
Coming into this start Mikolas has thrown two straight scoreless games, of five and seven innings apiece, and only allowed four hits in both of those games. His periferals suggest he has actually been throwing that well, as his FIP is 2.27 compared to an ERA 1.21. A little room for regression, but not a ton. Look for a tough opponent for the Diamondbacks.
Game 4 - 4/31, 11:15 AM: Zach Davies (1-1, 1.47 WHIP, 73 ERA+) vs. Jordan Hicks (1-2, 1.22 WHIP, 125 ERA+)
Perfect example of why pitcher wins are bunk is the fact that Davies has one, but Bumgarner has yet to pick up one. Davies hasn’t been terrible, but he hasn’t been great either. His outings have been on the shorter side, with him not making it through the fifth inning in half his starts. He’s giving up an average of three runs per start, but his last couple of games the offense has managed to make that hold up and get the win. Look for more of the same this time around.
After coming out of the bullpen for his first three seasons, Hicks has transitioned to the starting rotation, or at least transitioned to an opener. He’s started the game in his last two appearances, going three innings his first time and two his second. He’s given up three runs in those two games, however, so it hasn’t been the most effective strategy for the Cardinals, with them losing both games.
St. Louis is a good team, and second in their division. It’s going to be a hard fought series, for sure, but I honestly I give the Diamondbacks in the advantage in the first three games games as far as pitching match ups go, with the fourth being a toss up. I don’t think they’ll be able to convert all four to wins, but I do think a series split is a very achievable goal. If I had to guess, I’d probably game 1 and 3 will be there best shots.
All times Arizona Time