The Diamondbacks are coming off a series win against the Rockies, after pulling out a couple of hard fought wins in games 1 and 3 of the series. It’s a good start to see them holding their own against teams that they evenly match up against, such as the Rockies, Guardians, and SF, but the next step has to be showing up against anyone actually over .500.
Before the Rockies series, Lovullo announced that the eam would be moving towards a “closer by committee” approach, after Melancon’s well documented struggles in certain aspects of the role this season. Mixed results so far, with Kennedy and Melancon picking up saves in the wins, but Kennedy also getting the loss in game 2. How Lovullo manages the closer committee this series and going forward will be an interesting storyline to follow.
On the other side of the diamond, the Pirates are coming off a series loss to the Orioles. The lost the first two games of the series, but then put a bit of a drumming on the Orioles on Sunday. They tagged the Orioles starter for 4 runs, and then they got another four off of their bullpen, salvaging a win to close out the series. The Pirates are currently 44-64 and 16 games back of the Cardinals
Game 1 — 8/8, 6:40 PM: Zac Gallen (6-2, 1.04 WHIP, 123 ERA+) vs. Tyler Beede (1-1, 1.48 WHIP, 116 ERA+)
Zac Gallen is coming off a couple of shorter starts in a row. The first was a five inning, two run performance against the Giants, and the second was a three run, 5.2 inning start against the Guardians. Both were team wins, but you’d definitely like to see him get to the six or seven inning mark, especially given the state of the bullpen. The team has won three straight of his starts, and looks poised to continue that streak in this game.
Beede is a family face who started his career in 2018 with the Giants and was part of their organization until they DFA’d him in early May this season. He was picked up by the Pirates and had done well with them until they used him as an opener last time out against the Brewers. He only lasted 1.1 innings, gave up four runs, and added a whole run to his ERA with the Pirates. They’re going to try it again tonight against the Diamondbacks, so look for the Serpentines to strike early.
Also every time I hear his name I think of Beedle from Legend of Zelda.
Game 2 — 8/9, 6:40 PM: Tommy Henry (0-1, 1.40 WHIP, 61 ERA+) vs. Zach Thompson (3-8, 1.45 WHIP, 82 ERA+)
Tommy Henry made his long awaited debut in the majors, and it wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t what we were hoping for either. He worked through one jam, got tagged for a three run home run in another, and ultimately was given the loss in his debut. The most concerning part to my eye was his general lack of strike outs. In Reno this season, he had been striking out batters at a rate of 8.3 per nine innings, but only managed three in five innings in this start. To replicate the success he was having in Reno, he will need to find those strikeouts again.
The Pirates drafted Thompson in 2011, but he chose college instead, and was eventually drafted by the White Sox. He spent several years in their minors system, before ending up in Miami and getting promoted to the major last season. He started 14 times in 26 games and putting up a 126 ERA+ for a solid debut season. His second season, now back with the Pirates who originally drafted him, isn’t going quite as smoothly for him. The results have been up and down, with him just as likely to throw a shut out as he is to give up 6+ runs. He has struggled particularly of late, having given up 17 runs in his last 15.1 innings.
Game 3 — 8/9, 6:40 PM: Madison Bumgarner (6-10, 1.38 WHIP, 103 ERA+) vs. Mitch Keller (3-8, 1.42 WHIP, 100 ERA+)
After out performing his peripherals for most of the season, Bumgarner’s stats are not so slowly coming back into line. He is dangerously close to breaking back above 4 for his ERA, and his FIP is staying steady around 4.60. In both of his last two starts, he’s given up five runs, four earned, allowed 11 baserunners, given up a home run, with minimal strike outs. He is what he is at this point, and we still have two more seasons of it.
Facing off against Bumgarner is an equally average pitcher, with a very similar stat line to what Bumgarner has put up this season. He’s currently on a bit of a run, however, having given up more than one run in only a single start out of his last five. Nothing immediately jumps out as a reason for the stretch of solid starts, as his walks, strikeouts, hits, and home runs all seem to be in line with what he had been doing so far this season, so maybe a bit of good luck breaking his way.
Game 4 — 8/10, 12:40 PM: Merrill Kelly (10-5, 1.12 WHIP, 143 ERA+) vs. JT Brubaker (2-10, 1.52 WHIP, 94 ERA+)
Since June 8th, Merrill Kelly has not gone less than six innings. During that stretch of time, he has only given up more than two runs twice. Three of the outings were scoreless. He has had an ERA of 2.21 over that same period. Last time out was one of his tougher recent starts. He gave up seven hits, a walk, and a home run, but still managed to hold the Rockies to two over seven innings. Part of me keeps whispering that the magic is eventually going to go away and he’s going to revert back to what he should have been when Hazen signed him out of the KBO, but it hasn’t happened yet, and I don’t foresee it happening against the Pirates
Brubaker is in his third season for the Pirates. His ERA+ has been below average in all three of those season, though he is currently experience his best season as far as that statistic is concerned. Philly rocked him for seven runs in 4.1 innings on the 31st, and he went four innings and three runs against the Orioles last time out.
A series split is very achievable for the Diamondbacks in this series. Gallen and Kelly should be wins fairly easily. The offense should be able to put together a few runs in each of those games off the subpar pitchers that they will be facing. The other two games are more of a toss up, but if we can get a good start from either Henry or Bumgarner, or maybe the offense can tee off on of the Pirates pitchers and take the Diamondbacks pitching staff out of the equation. I’m going to play it safe, though, and say that they split the series.