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Diamondbacks Game Preview #141: 9/13 vs. Dodgers

Our OTHER ace goes against the Dodgers.

Arizona Diamondbacks v San Diego Padres Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Mookie Betts - RF Carson Kelly - C
Trea Turner - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Freddie Freeman - 1B Jake McCarthy - RF
Will Smith - C Christian Walker - 1B
Max Muncy - 3B Emmanuel Rivera - 3B
Justin Turner - DH Stone Garrett - DH
Joey Gallo - LF Jordan Luplow - LF
Chris Taylor - 2B Daulton Varsho - CF
Cody Bellinger - CF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Clayton Kershaw - LHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

With Zac Gallen setting a new franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings, it’s understandable that he has been getting much of the spotlight, both locally and nationally. But it’s worth recognizing that, by many metrics, Merrill Kelly has been almost as good as Gallen over the course of the season. For example, as mentioned in yesterday’s preview, Gallen ranks fifth in the National League for WAR. But who’s that sitting just being Zac in sixth place, with an average just one-quarter of a win less? That would be Merrill. Both by fWAR (a gap of 0.3) and bWAR (0.2), the two pitchers have been almost as productive for the Diamondbacks in 2022.

Part of the reason is that Kelly has thrown more innings: thirteen, going into tonight’s start, so the equivalent of two more outings, or thereabouts. This is a result of Zac’s arrival being a little delayed, due to bursitis which kept him out of spring training until March 30, leading to his debut not coming until Game #8 on April 16. By this time Kelly had already made a pair of starts, and Gallen has been playing catch-up since. Merrill also had longer starts earlier in the season, but both men have been going deeper since the All-Star break. Gallen has averaged 6.5 inning per start since, while Kelly has been all the way up at 6.8. The only pitcher higher in the second half is the Astros Franber Valdez at an eye-popping 7.2 IP/start.

Going into play today, there are only two pitchers in the big leagues with 60 innings since the break who are also undefeated. They’re both Diamondbacks. Between them, Gallen and Kelly are 11-0 over 19 starts, with an ERA of 1.52. Again, Gallen is getting the bulk of the press - as you’d expect with a record of 8-0 and an ERA that’s still below one, even with two trips in the second half to Barnum & Bailey Field. :) But it’s sad that, over his last eight outings, Kelly only has two wins despite a 2.70 ERA. The team has gone 1-5 in those no-decisions: no prizes for guessing why... Though that’s despite tying their opponents 21-21, with the five losses being by a total margin of six runs.

I kinda feel like there should be a measure of pitcher wins, based more on their performance, rather than one liable to be decided by the bullpen and/or offense. Maybe it could be based off innings pitched and runs allowed, or Game Score. For example, we look at this year, and find that when a pitcher goes 6 IP and allows 3 ER, their team has a 45% chance of winning. So, that pitcher would get credit for 0.45 wins and 0.55 losses, regardless of the “actual” result. It seems a potentially fairer way to make decisions actually reflect the value provided by a starting pitcher. Or we could just jettison the entire concept of W + L entirely. I feel sure the BMK trio (31 L’s and counting) wouldn’t mind that!