In this series, the Diamondbacks could break the finish-line tape on the road to 72 wins.
The team is improving! Diamondback team defense (as measured by season DRS in The Fielding Bible) has steadily increased from 20th at All-Star break, to 14th on 24 July, to 11th on 12 August, to 9th on 2 September to 6th on 21 September. Very impressive!
Let’s compare the Diamondbacks’ actual wins to the path to 72 wins presented in this AZ Snake Pit article. The Diamondbacks are 3 games ahead of the pace shown in the following diagram. Although reaching 72 wins has become very likely instead of optimistic, it remains a meaningful milestone.
Winning the series would be enough to immediately reach 72 wins.
These two teams are in a limited engagement to decide which team finishes the season in third place of the NL West.
Although the win-loss records are different (70-81 vs 73-77), the difference is not locked-in. Either team could finish the season in third place in the NL West.
Their fate is largely in their own hands because they play each other in 6 more games this season (this series plus another starting 30 September).
The Diamondbacks play stronger opponents:
- Diamondback play 2 games vs Astros and 3 games vs Brewers.
- Giants play 3 games vs the Rockies and 3 games vs the Padres.
Nevertheless, I like the Diamondbacks’ chances because recently they won 3 games out of 4 against the Brewers. And in April they split a 2-game series with the Astros.
In September, the teams are looking at prospects.
The highlights of the Diamondbacks September call-ups were starting pitchers Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson, who pitched very well in their debuts. Jameson will start in the third game of the series. Tommy Henry was called up in August; he will start the first game of the series.
The Giants call-ups included: Thomas Szapucki (RP) who in the last week pitched relief in three no-decision games, and two players who have returned to the minors after their cups of coffee (Seab Hjelle (RP), and Heliot Ramos (OF)).
Also, the Giants claimed Jharel Cotton, a relief pitcher with an ERA of 2.83 before acquired, who got a win in relief on Thursday. And they claimed Taylor Jones from the Astros, possibly because of an injury to La Mont Wade Jr..
The Pitching Matchups.
The Giants have an excellent closer. This season, the Giants closer Camilo Doval has saved 24 games in 27 opportunities.
The Diamondbacks have closer by committee. In the last two months, not counting catcher Carson Kelly, eleven Diamondbacks pitched the last half inning of a game. In August, the save opportunities were split between Mark Melancon and Ian Kennedy.
In September only 2 saves happened in 6 save opportunities. Ian Kennedy and Reyes Moronta each had one save in two opportunities, and Joe Mantiply had two blown saves, albeit in both opportunities he entered the game with bases loaded, only 1 or 2 outs, and a 1-run lead.
The struggles with the bullpen were worse than just 4 blown saves. In September in the last inning pitched by the Diamondbacks, 11 of 22 innings allowed at least 5 batters to the plate.
Friday 6:40 PM Arizona time; Carlos Rodon (141 ERA+) vs Tommy Henry (74 ERA+).
Of the eight Diamondbacks with at least 5 PAs against Carlos Rodon, Cooper Hummel has the best OBP (.500), and Christian Walked has the best SLG (.714).
The key to success against Carlos Rodon is to build innings (5 batters to the plate) in the first three innings. The following table shows that in his last three games pitched against the Diamondbacks, 4 of 6 built innings happened in the first three innings, and 9 of the 10 runs scored happened in those innings.
Tommy Henry was recalled to start this game. His previous start was on 7 September. My hopes for his success are high.
Saturday: Alex Cobb (116 ERA+) vs Merrill Kelly (129 ERA+).
Of the eight Diamondbacks with at least 5 PAs against Alex Cobb, Jake McCarthy has the best OBP (.667) and Christian Walker has the best SLG (1.000).
The key to success against Alex Cobb is to build innings (5 batters to the plate) in the first three innings. The following table shows that in his last three games pitched against the Diamondbacks, all built innings happened in the first three innings, and 7 of the 8 runs scored happened in those innings.
Merrill Kelly is pitching very well this season (2.38 ERA against all teams except the Dodgers, 8.25 ERA against the Dodgers). 538.com favors the Diamondbacks in this game.
Sunday: TBA, possibly Jakob Junis (91 ERA+) vs Drey Jameson (300 ERA+).
Of the seven Diamondbacks with at least 5 PAs against Jakob Junis, Jake McCarthy has the best OBP (.600) and Christian Walker has the best SLG (.800).
Four reasons to hope the Diamondbacks will bat very well in this game:
- His 85 ERA+ is less than average in the Majors.
- He allows more earned runs away from his home field (4.43 ERA vs 3.71 ERA).
- Left handed batters have better OPS against Jacob Junis (.700 OPS vs .653).
- Batters have better OPS after the All-Star break (.798 OPC vs .642).
Hopefully, Drey Jameson will continue to impress fans in his third start of the season. After pitching 7 scoreless innings against the Padres, he allowed only 2 runs in 6 innings against the Dodgers.
Four points follow:
- The Diamondbacks will soon reach 72 wins this season, a meaningful milestone.
- My optimistic hope is that the Diamondbacks win their last two series against the Giants and in addition finish the season in third place in the NL West.
- September call-ups had success.
- Either team could win this series.