Post-All Star Break Diamondbacks baseball has been interesting to say the least. The team got lucky coming out of the break and played two of the worst teams in baseball right off the bat. Thankfully, they knocked that opportunity right out of the park.
But then reality reared its ginormous head; Atlanta was next and very soundly ended that high. Up next are the Guardians, who hail from Cleveland since circa 2022. Despite the new logos and team name, don’t be alarmed while looking at your screen this week: the color scheme and font is nearly identical to the old branding.
Whether the snakes can continue to play spoiler for a playoff contender or not is going to be the story of the remaining two months. We get another shot this week in Cleveland with the Guardians currently one game behind Minnesota for the AL Central lead and 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay for the final Wild Card spot. Unfortunately, the Guardians have played better baseball than the Diamondbacks across the board all season, ranking 4th in Defense as a team (Diamondbacks 5th), 15th in Pitching (Diamondbacks 25th), and 10th in Batting (Diamondbacks 17th).
All that said, let’s get into the actual preview!
Game 1 - 8/1/2022 @ 4:10pm Arizona Time: Zach Davies (2-4, 1.19 WHIP, 103 ERA+) vs. Cal Quantrill (7-5, 1.32 WHIP, 98 ERA+)
This is a bit of a misnomer. Davies is pegged for the start, but it’s likely just a showcase for a team or two that is interested in acquiring him before the trade deadline on Tuesday. Expect a hefty bullpen game on Monday. Davies will likely have a 50-60 pitch limit in his return from the injured list and given Cleveland’s offense, that may not last 3 full innings. Ideally it lasts 4-5 though. Unsurprisingly Arizona’s bullpen ranks 27th in baseball, so mid-late game could be hard to watch. On the plus side, Kelly pitched well on Sunday, giving the bulk arms a rest.
Quantrill meanwhile is pitching slightly better than his peripherals suggest, despite having the lowest K/9 of his young career thus far. He’s played since 2019 and was traded to Cleveland from San Diego in the Clevinger deal (2020).
Overall, I’m going to label this game a wash; it truly could go either way.
Game 2 - 8/2/2022 @ 4:10pm Arizona Time: Zac Gallen (5-2, 1.01 WHIP, 126 ERA+) vs. Triston McKenzie (7-7, .98 WHIP, 120 ERA+)
We all know about Gallen. He is a good-great pitcher playing for a bad team. In 2022 he is averaging only about 5.5 innings per start. This is slightly better than in 2021. He is also on track to pass his career high innings pitched (MLB) in September.
Triston McKenzie however is a name you should start to know if you don’t already. He and Gallen have similar enough stats, but McKenzie’s highs have been HIGH in 2021-2022. He is a strikeout machine despite his 2022 K/9 rate being far lower than previous. This will wreak havoc on our lineup, I have no doubt.
I’m giving the very slight edge to Cleveland in this game. It could be close, but I think the Guardians’ offense will nitpick Gallen into an early(ish) exit and then we’ll be hoping McKenzie makes mistakes the offense can capitalize on, and our bullpen keeps a top third offense in line. That’s not the biggest recipe for success.
Game 3 - 8/3/2022 @ 10:10am Arizona Time: Madison Bumgarner (6-10, 1.36 WHIP, 106 ERA+) vs. Shane Bieber (5-6, 1.14 WHIP, 114 ERA+)
The good news about this game? Bieber is having his worst year since he was a rookie. Unfortunately, that’s about the same as saying Bumgarner is having his best year in Sedona Red... There’s even the smallest chance this game is two completely different starters because of the deadline; although I doubt either pitcher moves.
If the status quo is had, I give the edge to Cleveland here. Bieber is just better than Madbum, and the rest of Arizona’s game is unlikely to make up that difference. The beautiful thing about baseball though, is anything can happen!
This series is going to be overshadowed by the trade deadline no matter what. Cleveland will likely be buying players while Arizona doesn’t finish Wednesday’s game with all the current MLBers on the roster (most likely).
Unlike Atlanta this last weekend, the Guardians have been treading water since the break though, so there is a better shot we can play spoiler! In general, I think a 2-1 Cleveland series victory is most likely, but technically an Arizona sweep is possible!