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Game Preview #22: Diamondbacks @ Cardinals

Merrill Kelly takes on red hot Goldy and Co.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Lineups: Arizona Diamondbacks (9-12) vs. St. Louis Cardinals (11-8)

I hope you enjoy the alternative view of OPS instead of Batting Average today. It’s notable that Jordan Luplow gets the start in CF over Daulton Varsho against a right hander. But with fireballer Jordan Hicks and his 100 MPH sinker starting tomorrow and no lefty to match Luplow up against, it probably was deemed the better matchup to get Varsho a day off. Nolan Arenado, who has excellent numbers against Merrill Kelly, is out of the lineup serving a one game suspension for charging the mound in a brawl against the Mets. So that should help the cause.

Starting Pitchers:

Merrill Kelly 1-1, 1.69 ERA vs Miles Mikolas, 1-0, 1.21 ERA

This matchup features two guys that went to Asia to further their careers before returning to MLB. Mikolas pitched in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants from 2015-2017. Kelly of course pitched in Korea from 2015-2018. In 2018 Mikolas triumphantly returned to the USA, going 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA and finishing 6th in Cy Young voting, He’s been average since then though, and only made 9 starts last year. But he’s healthy now, and as mentioned by ISH in his series preview he’s pitching really well so far this year.

“Merrill The Mainstay” has been living up to Steve Berthiaume’s rather torturous nickname giving the team both length and quality in his outings.

Kelly Head to Head vs. Cardinals hitters HERE . Tyler O’Neil is 2 for 5 with a homer and a double against Merrill

Virtually no track record for the Dbacks hitters vs. Mikolas. Ketel is 0-3 against him and Peralta is 1 for 3, a single

Closer Mark Melancon and reliever J.B. Wendelken remain out due to Covid Protocols, so bullpen is stretched a bit.

Record & Standings:

The Diamondbacks are just three games under .500. Their “pace” is 69-93, which is just slightly better than my own expected range of 64-68 wins. That said, the last time they were only 3 games under .500 was May 12th, 2021 when they lost to the Marlins 3-2, dropping to 17-20. That kicked off a stretch where they lost 16 of 17, a tailspin from which they never recovered. Hopefully we don’t see something like that happen.

The team is also just 3 games behind these same Cardinals and the Florida Marlins , who are tied for the 3rd Wild Card slot with 11-8 records.

While it may seem silly to think in terms of just 3 games under .500 and 3 games out of the wild card, the expectation to be competitive is set by Mike Hazen and upper management. Despite the slow start to the season and the well documented hitting woes, the fact is they currently are playing competitive baseball against a very tough schedule. How long it lasts, and whether or not they can improve from here is anybody’s guess. But if they continue to get the kind of starting pitching they’ve been getting and the offense improves at all, you never know.

This day in history: April 30, 1993

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