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Series Preview # 21 : Diamondbacks vs Twins

Jose Miranda is a top-100 prospect in his debut season.

Jose Miranda bats at Target Field.
Jose Miranda bats at Target Field.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

After 16 games against below average teams, in this series the Diamondbacks will play the Twins, who lead the AL Central division. However, the first game pitching matchup very much favors the Diamondbacks. And if the Diamondbacks win that game, they may win one of the next two games, thereby winning this series.

Watch an exciting top-100 prospect in his debut season.

In February of this year, FanGraphs ranked Jose Miranda #85 in the top 100 prospects in baseball. In June he had slipped to #91.

In 2018, while in the minors (A+ level), his team played two games in the semifinals of the Florida State League Championship Series. Jose Miranda got 3 hits, including a homer.

In 2021 Jose Miranda won two honors:

  • Twins’ Sherry Robertson Award (first Twins farm director)
  • Twins Minor League Player of the Year.

“Our scouts have said for years that his bat-to-ball skills are special....At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch.” – Derek Falvey

“I always like to swing. But I had to understand I can’t swing at every pitch even though when it’s a strike it’s a setup pitch that you aren’t going to do damage . It’s just one strike. You have 2 more to play....I know I can put the ball in play with 2 strikes.” — Jose Miranda

Jose Miranda is a bat-first player with below average defense at first base and third base. In the Majors, he has not yet played second base, which is his favorite position.

“I might say I think second base may be my favorite [position]. It used to be shortstop but I don’t play SS much anymore.” — Jose Miranda

On 20 May of this season he turned a corner when he had two hits with 2 RBIs. Prior to that game he had 5 hits in 56 plate appearances. From that game onward through 10 June, he had 17 hits in 46 plate appearances.

At 24 years old, Jose Miranda has years to improve his skills.

“Keep working hard. That’s my mind-set always. And let my work talk.” — Jose Miranda

The Pitching Matchups.

The Diamondback closers are roughly equal to the Twins closers

  • The Twins closer is Emilio Pagen. This season, he has 8 saves in 11 opportunities. Five other pitchers have closed with a total of 7 saves in 12 opportunities. Data through 12 June.
  • The Diamondbacks closer is Mark Melancon. This season, he has 11 saves in 13 opportunities. Four other pitchers have closed with a total of 6 saves in 11 opportunities. Data through 12 June.

Friday 6:40 PM Arizona time, Devin Smeltzer (160 ERA+) vs Madison Bumgarner (118 ERA+).

Devin Smeltzer is 26 years old and this season is his best in the Majors. In May Devin Smeltzer pitched like an All-Star, including a 1-run game against the second place Guardians. In June, he returned to earth with a 4.50 ERA, although he pitched well enough. The key to this game will be to score against the bullpen.

“Get Loud!” — Devin Smeltzer

In his latest start, Madison Bumgarner allowed only 1 earned run in 5 innings pitches, but was credited with the loss. He will likely pitch well enough to give the Diamondbacks winning chances.

“There are some times nerves start to creep in there. I try to keep them out. There is always some competitive anxiety before you get out there. I keep telling myself just relax, and keep thinking that, so it will become second nature.” — Madison Bumgarner, 2010

Saturday, Dylan Bundy (65 ERA+) vs Luke Weaver (92 ERA+).

Dylan Bundy’s splits, his slider, and the third inning tell his story.

  • He pitches better to right handed batters (.790 OPS vs .928 OPS).
  • His ERA has worsened every month (2.95 in April, 6.87 in May, and 12.79 in June.
  • His slider has a 43% whiff rate.
  • The third inning is his kryptonite – ERA of 9.64 and 5 of 10 home runs against him were hit in the third inning.

“My main thing is focus....That’s all I focus on getting the ball to go exactly where I want it to go.” — Dylan Bundy

Luke Weaver pitched 6 rehab innings in AAA and on 12 June returned from the DL. That day, in a bullpen game he allowed one run in 3 innings pitched. He is ready to start, although he may be on a pitch count limit.

“I don’t care who you are, if you’re not putting up results, the weight of the world feels like it’s crushing you.” — Luke Weaver

Sunday, Chris Archer (113 ERA+) vs Merrill Kelly (112 ERA+)

This season Chris Archer’s pitch count never reached 80. As a result, his first 9 games averaged 3.81 innings per start. In his latest three games he averaged 4.67 innings, with pitch counts of 57, 70, and 67. The key to this game will be to raise his pitch count.

‘It takes 10 years to be an overnight success [in the Majors].” — Chris Archer

This season, despite the home run given up against the Reds on 13 June, Merrill Kelly’s home runs per 9 innings was very low (0.51). Merrill Kelly is great at home run prevention. Combine home run suppression with great defense (this season only one unearned run while Kelly pitched), and the Diamondbacks have real winning chances.

“More than that, even though the results had been pretty good other than a couple of hiccups, I felt like I wasn’t doing what I know that I can. I wasn’t attacking the way I know I can. Mediocre is a bad term, but that’s kind of how I felt. It took me a minute to finally say, ‘Screw it.’ I’m over the inconsistency. I got to a point where I was tired of not being myself.” — Merrill Kelly