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Diamondbacks Game Preview #98: 7/27 vs. Giants

If the rotation performs as it has this month, the D-backs have a shot to complete the sweep of the Giants.

Washington Nationals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Mike Christy/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Tommy La Stella - 3B Josh Rojas - 3B
Joc Pederson - LF Alek Thomas - CF
Wilmer Flores - 2B Ketel Marte - 2B
Brandon Belt - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Luis Gonzalez - RF David Peralta - LF
Thairo Estrada - SS Daulton Varsho - RF
Mike Yastrzemski - CF Jake McCarthy - DH
LaMonte Wade - DH Sergio Alcantara - SS
Austin Wynns - C Jose Herrera - C
Logan Webb - RHP Zac Gallen - RHP

The Diamondbacks’ starters have turned things around significantly in July, posting a 3.65 ERA to go with an 8-3 record. That’s not quite back to the level of April (2.73 ERA), but is a considerable improvement on both May (5.02) and June (4.81). It’s especially impressive, since the July figure includes three starts from the now-terminated Keuchel Resurrection Project. Those led to 16 earned runs over 14.1 innings - close to one-third of the ER allowed by our starters. If you take out those, the July ERA for the rest of the Arizona rotation drops all the way down to 2.79, basically what it was in April. Here are the June and July ERAs for the pitchers with > 1 start in both, and you can see where the improvement came from.

  • Merrill Kelly: 3.60 to 1.57
  • Zac Gallen: 5.26 to 3.28
  • Madison Bumgarner: 4.06 to 3.96

The remaining two spots have been much of a muchness. We effectively replaced Zach Davies (2.56) with Tyler Gilbert (2.95), and the fifth slot went from an ugly mix of Kyle Nelson, Tyler Gilbert, Keuchel and Luke Weaver to an ugly Keuchel. With one more start to come on Sunday, Kelly has a shot to go 5-0 with a sub-two ERA, which hasn’t happened very often for any month in team history. Just six times, in fact, the most recent such was Patrick Corbin in May 2013. The only comparable July came all the way back in 2002, when Curt Schilling went 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA. [That was quite the season, with the Big Unit performing the same feat twice, in both the first and last month!]

The strength of the rotation has helped give the bullpen a bit of a breather. In June they averaged 3.64 innings per game, but that figure has dropped in July down to below three (2.98), so about two fewer outs each contest. That hasn’t particularly shown itself in the bottom line, with the relief ERA only down a little, from 4.25 to 4.16. Their record is also an ugly 2-8, so the timing of those runs has clearly been unfortunate. However, the OPS against our bullpen is 52 points lower in July; against that, a factor in the decline is a sharp drop in their BABIP, from .310 to .278. The return of Ian Kennedy may help, though seeing Joe Mantiply return to something approaching his first-half form would be a big boost.