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Diamondbacks Game Preview #53: 6/3 @ Pirates

Why can the Pirates beat the Dodgers and we can’t?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Daulton Varsho - C Ke'Bryan Hayes - 3B
Josh Rojas - 3B Bryan Reynolds - CF
Ketel Marte - 2B Daniel Vogelbach - DH
Christian Walker - 1B Michael Chavis - 1B
David Peralta - LF Rodolfo Castro - 2B
Pavin Smith - DH Jack Suwinski - RF
Jake McCarthy - RF Diego Castillo - SS
Alek Thomas - CF Tucupita Marcano - LF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Tyler Heineman - C
Merrill Kelly - RHP JT Brubaker - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled RHP Taylor Widener from the Taxi Squad.
  • Optioned LHP Paul Fry to Triple-A Reno and will remain on the Taxi Squad.
  • Reinstated RHP Keynan Middleton from the 15-day injured list (right elbow inflammation) and optioned him to Reno.

As has been well documented, the D-backs have played very well this year, against everyone except the Dodgers. They are 2-9 against LA, but comfortably above .500 when facing everyone else, with a record of 23-18. The .561 win percentage the latter represents would be enough to put them in a wild-card spot, if it weren’t for those pesky 11 games against Los Angeles. Meanwhile, the Pirates are the complete reverse. They are coming off their first road sweep of the Dodgers since 2000 and went 5-1 there... yet are 17-26 against everybody else. What’s more remarkable is that, before this season, the Pirates were even worse than us. From 2017-21, they went 2-23 vs. LA, including 16 losses in a row.

To be fair, they are probably lucky to have won five of six. They only just outscored the Dodgers by a 30-27 margin, mostly because the one defeat was an 11-1 blowout loss. But the main reason for their success, is they have hit Los Angeles pitching better than any other team in the National League this year: a line of .272/.345/.505 for an .850 OPS, compared to a National League average of .643. The D-backs come in at .586, though there are quite a few teams who have done worse. With regard to pitching, Pittsburgh are middle of the pack, allowing Los Angeles a .775 OPS which is close to NL average (.770). Meanwhile Arizona are dead last in the league, LA having feasted on our pitching to an .842 OPS.

What happens in this series, really depends on what version of the Pittsburgh line-up makes the journey back to their home turf. Their overall OPS this year is .653, the lowest in the league and almost two hundred points below what they managed over the six games against Los Angeles. If that’s the kind of hitting we see at PNC Park this weekend, there’s a good chance the Diamondbacks can take two of three or better. Unless the home team somehow discovered a stock of the superbouncy balls from the past couple of years, I’m leaning towards the larger sample size of general Pirates’ suckiness.