September is a “in your face” month for the Diamondbacks.
Last season we had a feeling of “let’s wrap this up as soon as possible” in the month of September and although the feeling in this month of September isn’t comparable to that at all, some kind of a “let’s wrap it up” is slipping into me. It is hard to not have some feeling of disappointment, realising that the Diamondbacks have been outplayed by their (better) opponents these final weeks.
The last series win was on September 4, at home against the Brewers, and ever since the Diamondbacks have struggled to a 8-15 record, losing series against each and every opponent in the NL West, including the Rockies. Seen in that light, the recent two-game split against the Astros was just as welcome as unexpected.
When the month began some were dreaming of a possible chance of entering the play-offs fight and when we were half way we still believed that we were able to get ahead of the Giants. Now we should assume that the Diamondbacks will end this season in 4th place in the NL West and I hope we can stay ahead of all teams that are currently below us in the combined standings.
Giants looking ahead.
Just like the Diamondbacks, with a lost season the San Francisco Giants will look ahead to 2023 in these final weeks.
Both Joc Pederson and Evan Longoria are on expiring contracts, although Longoria has technically a club option in his contract, but few believe the Giants will not execute the $5MM buyout. There is no guarantee that both will play in this series except for possible platoon-related reasons.
Other guys that won’t come back in 2023 and we won’t see in this series are Jake McGee (DFAd and club option), Jose Alvarez (free agent and on 15-day IL with a 5.28 ERA), Brandon Belt (free agent and on 15-day IL) and Dominic Leone (DFA and free agent).
The Giants also have some decisions to make on arbitration players of whom Mike Yastrzemski is probably the toughest one. Yastrzemski is in his first arbitration year and earning $3,700,000. He is obviously up for a raise and with a 92 OPS+ who knows what the Giants will do, depending on what course they will take for the 2023 season, although the club is in a position to overpay a bit for average or sub-par players, banking on a bounce back season or two. There is no doubt about his defensive skills, so maybe that prevents the Giants from pulling the trigger.
The road to 2023 is already under construction. The Giants are giving a chance to new guys to become part of next season’s roster:
- Power hitting corner guy David Villar is hitting .203/.311/.413 over 46 games. He is platooned at a corner, mashes lefties but has had problems in hitting right-handed pitching.
- J.D. Davis is on a 159 OPS+ since coming over from the Mets, entrenching himself as Brandon Belt’s successor.
- Jason Vosler is getting an extended look in his second season, this time helped a bit by an above average BABIP, and slugging .506. He is already 29, so hardly a prospect, and the power comes with many strikeouts.
- Joey Bart seems to settle in as their everyday backstop now Posey is gone, but he is striking out at an alarming rate.
With Heliot Ramos (outfielder) and Gregory Santos (relief pitching) they have two guys that are in the pipeline, but other than that, most prospects are still a while away from reaching the majors. So, as a whole, maybe our 2023 outlook is better than theirs and it would be nice to confirm that with a series win in California.
Diamondbacks can win this series.
Despite the difference in the W/L-record between both teams, the Diamondbacks are 5.5 games behind our opponent, these series could go either way, something Makakilo also wrote in his preview a week ago.
In 2022 the Diamondbacks are 9-7 in direct confrontations against the Giants. However, it won’t be easy to achieve a series win at Oracle Park. We are 3-4 in San Francisco this year. Add to that a very negative 32-43 in our away games and San Francisco going 40-36 at home, and it is clear that we will have to play hard if we want to finish the season with a positive balance against San Francisco and achieve at least win #73 and assure less than 90 losses in this season that way.
For this series the Giants are without the above mentioned Brandon Belt, but also without left-fielder Luis Gonzalez and utility guy Tommy LaStella, where the latter has struggled heavily with his performance and injuries ever since joining the club in 2021.
On the pitching side they shut down struggling lefty Alex Wood for the season. That injury left a hole in their rotation, which we saw in the last game of the previous series between both teams, when the Giants went with an opener (Scott Alexander). That has become their recipe for now, where they use a 4-man rotation, and then go with an opener, most of the times John Brebbia.
Their “success” this season has basically been built around 4 starting pitchers and 4 relievers. All others have come and gone away, except for former D-Back Alex Young, who has found some success as a lefty reliever with the Giants. Let’s hope we don’t need to add our nemesis Shelby Miller to that list.
The tactic should be patience, fight the at bats and exhaust their pitching by getting deep and early into their bullpen.
Ah, and hope Shelby Miller doesn’t show up, I am not sure if the ritual worked.
Game #1 Fri 09/30 7:15 MST, Alex Cobb (SFG) vs Merrill Kelly (ARI)
- Alex Cobb. 139.2 IP, 3.67 ERA/2.93 FIP, 1.274 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 9.0 K/9. (unconfirmed)
- Merrill Kelly. 189.2 IP, 3.13 ERA/3.51 FIP, 1.112 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.0 K/9.
“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.” - Makakilo on the AZSnakePit in his preview a week ago
As long as the opponent’s name isn’t the Dodgers, Merrill Kelly is destined to go deep into a game. Merrill has pitched 5 times against the Giants this season and is 3-0 and has given up just 6 runs in 35.1 innings of work. We saw Alex Cobb go 5 innings in his latest outing, against the Diamondbacks, coughing up 5 runs and taking the loss. In the other 3 other outings where the Diamondbacks faced Cobb, the righty took 1 win and 2 no-decisions.
If this is indeed the matchup, I’d put my money on the Diamondbacks.
Game #2 Sat 10/01 1:05 MST, Jakob Junis (SFG) vs Drey Jameson (ARI)
- Jakob Junis. 107.1 IP, 4.28 ERA/3.70 FIP, 1.258 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.9 K/9. (unconfirmed)
- Drey Jameson. 18.1 IP, 0.98 ERA/2.95 FIP, 1.036 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 8.3 K/9.
I originally had Tommy Henry pencilled in here and Drey Jameson for game #3, but I guess that the Diamondbacks have decided to skip him for now and give him some more rest before pitching against the Brewers in the final games of the season.
Not much to say about Drey Jameson: he has been excellent so far, and even in his latest outing where he didn’t have his best stuff, against the Giants, he held the Diamondbacks in line for a win.
He might pitch against Junis again, although the last time Junis entered the game after San Francisco went with an opener. The Giants eventually took the win. In the 3 games we saw Junis this season we were only able to score 3 runs off him, 1 in each outing. Junis has trouble keeping runs off the board though: he has had just 3 scoreless outings and in the last two months he has given up 35 runs in 49 innings.
So, yeah, we should punish this guy.
Game #3 Sun 10/02 1:05 MST, Logan Webb (SFG) vs Zach Davies (ARI)
- Logan Webb. 192.1 IP, 2.90 ERA/3.04 FIP, 1.159 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 7.6 K/9. (unconfirmed)
- Zach Davies. 129.1 IP, 4.18 ERA/4.83 FIP, 1.291 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 6.9 K/9.
Since returning from the IL Zach Davies hasn’t completed a sixth inning in not one game. He will be on a “shorter” rest after giving up 4 runs in 4.1 innings of work in game 1 in Houston, but I am not expecting much. If we wish to win the series against the Giants, we should have probably won it already before the final game.
Logan Webb is the Giants’ #1 starter ERA-wise, but has also pitched against a lot of easy opponents. He was dominant against Arizona in 6 scoreless innings of work in July, but took two losses against the Snakes at the end of July and in August, so we are definitely not without chance here.
I give you my prediction for this series: D-Backs win!