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Series Preview #49: Diamondbacks at Astros

Can this team earn win 72 against two aces and a team already bound for a first-round postseason bye?

Jason Gurwin

Sadly, the team did not surpass the impressive (for us...) 72-win mark in the last series against the Giants. The good news? They only need a single win to meet that mark, and two to overcome it. This will be a difficult task to complete in this series though, as we face the daunting Houston Astros.

The Astros hardly need any introduction. They have made the post season every year since 2017 (coincidently, this is the last time the Diamondbacks made the postseason in any fashion). They are the team that made tanking look cool AND sustainable after the fact if you put your organization together correctly. And of course, they are the team whose sole World Series trophy comes with a gigantic, trash can-shaped, asterisk. Gone are the days of Dallas Keuchel (lolz remember him?), George Springer, Collin McHugh, and Carlos Correa though. They’ve been replaced by the likes of Framber Valdez, Jose Pena, Cristian Javier and Yordan Alvarez. Still around are stalwarts like Justin Verlander, Alex Bregman, and the O.G. “Short King,” Jose Altuve.

As we’ve all witnessed in the second half, these snakes are no pushover. And Houston recently punched their ticket to the postseason (and a first-round bye - still weird). There’s a chance we don’t see the entire, All-Star studded lineup both nights. Whether or not that means this team can win a game or two though, that’s still up in the air.

Game 1 - Tuesday September 27, 2022 @ 5:10pm Arizona Time: Zach Davies (2-4, 1.27 WHIP) vs Lance McCullers Jr. (4-1, 1.25 WHIP) Luis Garcia (13-8, 1.17 WHIP)

On the surface, these two pitchers look surprisingly evenly matched. But I chose stats to highlight that made this so. McCullers Jr (LMJ) was on the IL until August, so he’s only showing two months' worth of data compared to Davies’ five. LMJ is a much better pitcher than Davies; there’s doubt about that. Plus, Davies’ last 4 starts have not been the prettiest. Those starts haven’t set him up for success though, as he faced the Brewers, Rockies (in Colorado), then the Dodgers twice in a row. Positive regression could happen against the Astros. But I would not be betting on it.

I only just have time to update this with the barest of minimum info. LMJ scratched with illness, Garcia in for him instead. Not a whole lot changes. He’s a better pitcher than Davies too, generally. But his track record is less than LMJ or Davies. Hopefully this helps the team, but who knows?

This game is likely to go to the Astros. The Arizona offense just hasn’t shown enough oompf this season for me to suggest anything else.

Game 2 - Wednesday September 28, 2022 @ 5:10pm Arizona Time: Zac Gallen (12-3, 2.46 ERA) vs Justin Verlander (17-4, 1.82 ERA)

This is the game we should all be anticipating. Early prime Gallen versus vintage Verlander. Looking at common stats for each of these pitchers, it’s a toss-up deciding who has had the better season on the whole. This is despite a brief IL stint for Verlander. Gallen leads in IP, SO, GS, and L’s. Verlander leads in WHIP, W, ERA, and less tangible but still important, Cy Young chance.

There is little else to say about this game of importance. This is hopefully the pitcher’s duel of the season. The young ace takes on the man defying time.

I’m going to hedge my bets and call this game a toss-up because our bullpen and offense are so bad. But I am hoping our young studs (Carroll, McCarthy, Varsho) can eek across a run or two and Gallen can get the bullpen to a point where they only need a few outs.

If this becomes win #72 of the season, you can be absolutely sure this team earned that milestone. Though this 72nd win is meaningless in the long run, the representation of that sort of turnaround is something to cheer for; especially if it comes in a quick, end of season series against a behemoth like the Houston Astros.

Small hope: I personally adore the Astros’ City Connect Uniforms, so I very much hope we get to see them once this series.