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Series Preview #17: Diamondbacks at Pirates

The Diamondbacks head to Pittsburgh to take on the suddenly red hot Pirates

Roansy Contrerars of the Pirates throws a pitch while wearing their black with gold jersey Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

For the first time in approximately eleventy billion years, the Diamondbacks had a winning month of May! Despite going 0-8 against the Dodgers during the month, they finished with a record of 15-14 thanks to a series win against the Braves at the very end. While they are still two games under .500 and in fourth place in the division, it marks a moral victory (as well as fifteen literal victories) for the team to finish with a winning record in a month that has effectively ended their season the past few years. With a much weaker schedule in June, and a distinct lack of teams from LA, they’ll look to build off that and see just how lucky they can get this season.

On the other hand, you have the Pirates, a team that has been struggling this season until they went to LA, where they managed to sweep the Dodgers, despite the Dodgers having a winning percentage over 200 points higher than them after the series. Just goes to show that in any game, either team can and will win.

Quick programing note, due to an ill-timed internet outage, I’m writing this very late at night when I have to be up very early the next day, so this series only, I’m going to assume you know what Merrill Kelly, Zach Davies, and Zac Gallen have been up to recently, and just talk about the Pirates pitchers.

Game 1 — 6/3, 4:05PM: Merrill Kelly (3-3, 1.35 WHIP, 112 ERA+) vs. JT Brubaker (0-4, 1.38 WHIP, 100 ERA+)

Brubaker will be the longest tenured pitcher the Diamondbacks face in this series, as he is in his third whole season of MLB action. With an ERA+ of 100, he is a nearly perfect example of league average. However, he’s been trending in a very positive direction, having not given up an earned run in two starts, for a total of 11 and 23 innings. It’s very much possible to put up a big number on him, though, like the Cubs did three starts ago when they tagged him for six runs in 5 and 23 innings.

Game 2 — 6/4, 1:05PM: Zach Davies (2-3, 1.34 WHIP, 85 ERA+) vs. Roansy Conteras (1-0, 1.01 WHIP, 165 ERA+)

Conterars is a rookie, making just his fourth career MLB start. He got called up for one start last season, but started this season in the bullpen for a couple of appearances before making the move to the roation. His two starts this season have been successes, holding the Cubs scoreless and the Padres to just two earned runs, both over five innings pitched. Hard to say what to expect, though, with such minimal information to go off of. Fun fact, he and I share a birthday, though (gulp) his was four years later than mine...

Game 3 — 6/5, 10:35AM: Zac Gallen (4-0, 0.91 WHIP, 177 ERA+) vs. Zach Thompson (2-4, 1.45 WHIP, 80 ERA_)

Thompson’s season has been a very mixed bag. He’s had five starts where he has held his opponent to two runs or less, but he’s also had four starts where he’s allowed four runs or more, including a nine run, two inning outing early in April. His last start out was part of the sweep of the Dodgers, though, where he held them to just two runs over 5 and 23 innings. Which version of Thompson shows up will more than likely be the deciding factor in this game, even with Gallen on the mound for the Diamondbacks.

Conclusion

I don’t want to say that any series is a “must win” for an under .500 team in June, but... if there ever was a must win series for an under .500 team in June this is it. The Pirates aren’t really a good team at all, Dodger sweep notwithstanding, and the two pitchers they are going up against that have had several starts this season have struggled and the other is a green rookie. Merill Kelly isn’t facing the Dodgers, so that’s probably a good sign, and despite some recent regression, Gallen is still pitching well overall this season. I’m going to say the Diamondbacks win two out of three, but hope really hard they manage to pull out the third win.