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Series Preview #20: Diamondbacks VS. Reds

Oh, it’s these guys again.

Tyler Mahle, wearing a bright red uniform with the word Reds underlined in flowing cursive, throws a pitch in front of the stands in Great American Ballpark with the crowd just out of focus. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

If it feels like we just played these guys, you’d be correct! We did in fact just play four with these same Reds just before the series with the Phillies. We even faced two of the three pitchers we are going to face this series in the last one, so some of this might seem very, very familiar to you. Great job scheduling gurus.

The biggest difference between this series and last is that, this time, the Diamondbacks will be hosting the Reds at Chase Field. This isn’t a big difference for the Diamondbacks. Their W% is pretty much the same at home and on the road. Home is .467 and, and the road is .469. However, the Reds have been significantly worse on the road. At home, they are almost, but not quite respectable, with a winning percentage of .414. One strong home stand could easily put them at .500. On the road, however, they’re playing a an abysmal .290 clip, having only managed nine wins away from home to twenty two losses. Their traveling struggles could very easily play a factor in this series, and maybe even help the Diamondbacks get above .500 at home...

Game 1 — 6/13, 6:40PM: Mike Minor (0-2,1.44 WHIP, 56 ERA+) vs. Merrill Kelly (5-3, 1.32 WHIP, 124 ERA+)

This will be Minor’s third start of the season for the Reds so far, and the first two haven’t gone great. The Nationals took him for five earned runs in four innings first time, and the Diamondbacks touched him up for three in 4 13 . At this point, Minor is very far removed from his peak from 2017-2019, which ended with him getting his only Cy Young votes in 2019. Just like his last start, the Diamondbacks should focus on chasing him from the game early on.

Merrill Kelly has really been working through some stuff lately. His command, which is normally one of his strengths, has been almost completely abscent, and his run prevention was struggling because of it. His command was still an issue last time out, but he made up for it by holding the Reds to a solitary hit over six innings. Turns out, walks don’t hurt as much if you simply don’t let them move the runner over! He said before his last game that he felt he was getting closer to figuring out those control issues, so hopefully we’ll see more of that progress tonight.

Game 2 — 6/14, 6:40PM: Tyler Mahle (2-5, 1.35 WHIP,93 ERA+) vs. Zach Davies (2-3, 1.24 WHIP, 98 ERA+)

Tyler Mahle shut the Diamondbacks down his last time out, holding them to a single run over six innings. You might see him try for a complete game this time around, though, since the Reds bullpen squandered that start and allowed the Diamondbacks to come back and score four runs in the ninth to win the game. Let’s see if the Dbacks make an adjustment, and not have to wait until the ninth to seal a win away in this game.

Davies continues to hold his own in the Arizona rotation, which I will admit, was not a sentence I expected to write in the middle of June. He isn’t setting the world on fire, but he is going out there, giving the Diamondbacks 5+ innings, and keeping them in the game. Not bad at all for someone who is only making 70k more than the average house price in Phoenix this year.

Game 3 — 6/15, 12:40 PM: Luis Castillo (2-4, 1.12 WHIP, 146 ERA+) vs. Zac Gallen (4-2, 1.06 WHIP, 140 ERA+)

The marque pitching matchup of the series, for sure. Castillo has been quietly very good for the Reds over the past six seasons. He hasn’t gotten much love in awards voting or All Star appearances, but he’s only had one season with an ERA+ below 120 and has a career K/9 of almost 10. The Diamondbacks missed him last time around, but they aren’t going to be that lucky this time. He did give up five earned runs just two starts ago, so it’s possible to get to him, for sure. The Diamondbacks will just have to figure out how to do that.

Gallen is coming off of the worst start in his Major League career. He only lasted 1.2 innings, giving up six runs, four earned, in route to a 7-5 loss to the Phillies. He’s going to be looking for a bounce back start, and as far as opponents go, the Reds are a good draw for that. Problem is, I would have said the same thing about the Phillies before his last start.

Conclusion

This is a very winnable series for the Diamondbacks, but they are going to need Kelly and Gallen to actually show up, something that hasn’t been a guarantee for the last couple weeks. If they get strong starts from those two, and Davies does what he has been doing, Arizona has a very good chance at taking, if not sweeping this series. They’re still within striking distance of a Wild Card spot, but if they want any hope of staying that way, they have to take advantage of this type of series. I think they continue to make us wonder if we should believe, and take 2 out of three this series. If I had to guess, they’ll take the first two, and suffer a very close loss on the third.