If it seems like it’s been a while since the Diamondbacks last played the Giants, you’d be correct. The last time was September 30, 2021, or just a tick over nine months ago. One big change, of course, is that Buster Posey is doing whatever it is Busters do after they retire. That alone is a massive change after him being the face of the Giants for so long. The other massive change is that they have significantly come back down to Earth. Last year, of course, they won the NL West with 107 wins, which was almost entirely unexpected for a lot of reasons. This year, they are at a much more modest three wins over .500, third place, and 8.5 games behind the Dodgers.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Diamondbacks are coming off of a disappointing series against the Rockies that they should have won. After winning the first game, they got blown out pretty convincingly in game 2, and then choked away a 5-0 lead in the middle of the sixth inning in game 3. They are now tied for fourth place, which sounds better than tied for last, but means the same thing. The bullpen continues to be an issue, the offense streak, and the rotation a question mark at best.
Game 1 — 7/4, 3:10pm: Madison Bumgarner (3-8, 1.37 WHIP, 114 ERA+) vs. Carlos Rodon (7-4. 1.09 WHIP, 160 ERA+)
Madison Bumgarner goes up against the team that he is most associated with in this oddly-timed holiday game. ERA+ likes to think he is putting together his best season as a Diamondback so far, with a 114 ERA+ as opposed to 70 and 89 in ‘20 and ‘21 respectively. However, as many different people have much more succinctly put it than I’m about to, there are plenty of reasons for concern. His BB/9 is the second worst he’s had in his career, and his K/9 is tied for the worst of his career. His FIP is currently over a run higher than his ERA, which just screams that it’s about to come crashing down, but at the same time, it’s been that way all season, so who knows.
Last time out, he went five innings of one run ball, but even a one run deficit would have been too much for the offense to overcome, not to mention the additional three runs the bullpen gave up after he left.
Opposing him on the mound is the tough lefty, Carlos Rodon. This is his first season with the Giants, after spending the first seven years of his career with the White Sox. He is coming off an All-Star season where he finished fifth in the Cy Young votes. He isn’t quite as good as he was last season, but he’s still going to be plenty difficult for the inconsistent Diamondbacks to face. He has only given up two total runs in his last four starts, a stretch of 27 innings.
Game 2 — 7/5, 6:40pm: TBD vs. Alex Wood (5-7, 1.36 WHIP, 83 ERA+)
The pesky fifth spot in the rotation comes up once again for the Diamondbacks. Crazy how that happens about every five days or so. If only there was some way they could see this coming and plan for it... Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of rumors that suggests it’s going to be the Major League debut of Tommy Henry, the Diamondbacks’ #13 ranked prospect who has been lighting it up in Reno recently. Until the Diamondbacks make an announcement, though, Steve Gilbert broke down the options here.
I’m not sure if there is a pitcher that has had as up-and-down career as Alex Wood. His peak was as great as a 152 ERA+, and his lows were as bad as a 70 ERA+ in 2020. He had a bit of a resurgence last year, and is now once again back down to 83. He’s been in a particularly downward slide the past few games, adding almost an entire run to his ERA over the past four starts, including a one inning, six run outing against the Braves on June 23rd. He rebounded a bit on his last start, going 5 and 2⁄3 while giving up three runs, but he probably will be the easiest starter the Diamondbacks face this series.
Game 3 — 7/6, 6:40PM: Merrill Kelly (7-5, 1.26 WHIP, 119 ERA+) vs. Alex Cobb
Well then. Any time you only give up one earned run in seven innings while pitching at Coors Field is a good day, and that’s exactly what Merrill Kelly did his last time out. While it hasn’t been his best season in Sedona Red, Kelly continues to be a solid option in the middle of the rotation. Hopefully, that fantastic start in Colorado is the beginning of a stretch of great pitching like we know he is capable of rattling off, and not just another good start sandwiched between cruddy ones like we’ve seen a couple of times over the past six weeks.
Alex Cobb is another veteran pitcher for the Giants, and like the previous Alex, isn’t having a great season, but not his worst either. However, he has been limited recently due to two IL stints in the last month and a half, meaning he has only made three starts since May 29th. In those three starts, though, he has not given up an earned run, albeit in short starts of no more than five innings.
This is a series against a better team, but not nearly as good as they were last season. Rodon will by far be their hardest obstacle in the series, but if they can make up ground against Wood and Cobb, they might have a chance. A huge question will be what the team decides to do with the start on Tuesday, as well as which Merrill Kelly shows up on Wednesday. Everything goes their way for those two games, they have a chance. They drop one of those, they are probably looking at another series loss. My guess is that they end up losing two out of three. We’ll see!