The Diamondbacks are returning to Chase Field on a bit of a skid. They’re 4-6 in their last ten, thought that does include an incredibly unsurprising sweep at the hands of the Padres. They have completely failed to take advantage of their easy June schedule, and are now 7.5 games back of the last Wild Card spot. But they are still at least pretty fun to watch most nights, unless they’re playing one of the top teams, so they have that going for them at least.
This series should be one of the ones where they have a good chance of playing winning baseball. The Tigers are in even worse shape than Arizona is, with a record of 26-43, twelve games back of both the division and the last American League Wild Card spot. In their last two games, they’ve only won two of them, and the losses haven’t been particularly close. This might be the first truly meaningless series of the season for the Diamondbacks.
Game 1 — 6/24, 6:40PM: Merrill Kelly (6-4, 1.295 WHIP, 120 ERA+) vs. Rony Garcia
Hopefully, Kelly’s last outing against the Twins was a sign that he has righted the ship and he’ll resume being the most consistant pitcher on the team. He went seven innings, allowing five hits and no walks, while striking out five and only allowing one run. He’s never faced the Tigers in his career, and I believe that will work in his favor.
Rony Garcia has been in and out of the Majors over the past three seasons. He appeared in 15 games, two starts in 2020, and those games were not kind on him, saddling him with an ERA over 8. In 2021, the Tigers only called on him twice, but this season he has been more of a staple on the team. He spent April and May in the bullpen, before being moved to the starting rotation, where he has now made five starts. Those starts have not been kind to him, though. He is averaging less than five innings a start, with an ERA of 6.38. He has put up a K/9 of 9 over that stretch however, so there are some strengths for him.
Game 2 — 6/25, 7:10 PM: Zach Davies (2-4, 1.20 WHIP, 105 ERA+) vs. Alex Faedo (1-4, 1.48 WHIP, 83 ERA+)
Davies wasn’t at his best last start out. He gave up four runs in six innings, with three walks, which was the most he had given up since April 26th. He seems to be alternating great and meh starts, with two scoreless starts sandwiched between starts of three plus runs given up. He has settled into the role of inning eater, however, with no starts less than six innings this month. Not going to be on any All Star Ballots, but he’s a good pitcher to have at the end of a rotation, and might bring something in return at the trade deadline.
Alex Faedo is the first of two rookie starters the Diamondbacks will face this series. He started off decently when he first made it to the rotation at the beginning of May, but it’s been a struggle for him his last two starts. Against the White Sox, he only went three innings, giving up seven earned runs on 9 hits, and then only went 4.1 innings against the Red Sox, giving up five runs (four earned) on eight hits. If the Diamondbacks can get to him like Boston and Chicago did, with Davies on the mound, their chances look good in this game
Game — 6/26, 1:10PM: TBD vs. Beau Brieske (1-7, 1.20 WHIP, 95 ERA+)
It would be hyperbole to say that if they could just get one more decent starter in the rotation that all of the teams woes would be fixed. But at the same time, one does have to wonder what things would be like if things were just a bit different with the rotation. Maybe the bullpen would be less taxed. Maybe a few more of those good offensive games that they lost would have turned into wins. We’ll never know, but maybe one day we can try it?
Brieske is also a rookie taking the mound for the Tigers. He’s having a bit better success than Faedo. June in particular has been a good month for him. His first three starts this month were one game of two runs given up against the Yankees, and then back-to-back scoreless outings against the Blue Jays and Rangers. Important to note that the Rangers game was one of the Tigers two wins in the last ten games. He struggled last time out against the Red Sox, giving up four runs in five innings.
On paper, the Diamondbacks are the better team here, and hopefully that will translate into the actual field. The offense will need to show up, to counter balance any less than great starts they might see from Kelly and Davies, as well as whoever ends up pitching Sunday. If Kelly and Davies do well, then I think they have this series in the bag, with an outside, but unlikely, chance at a sweep.