This week has seen the Diamondbacks drop a three game series to the Miami Marlins. They won the first game behind another strong outing from Zac Gallen, but the final two games of the series saw poor outings from Brandon Pfaadt and Merrill Kelly to give the Marlins a series win in Phoenix. Because of that, the Dbacks fell to 2.5 games back from the Dodgers in the NL West, but still have a 1.5 game lead over the Marlins in the Wild Card race and are three games over .500.
The Giants have not been good this season and are only avoiding the basement of the NL West thanks to the extreme suckitude of the Rockies. 16-20 isn’t good no matter how you slice it, but I don’t think it’s entirely unexpected following the offseason they had, where they saw basically every free agent they pursued merely use them as leverage before they signed elsewhere.
It’s worth noting the the Giants have not actually announced starters past Game 1, and the pitchers below are from ESPN where they just follow the current pattern rather than wait for official announcements from the teams. So these may change, but they are probably who we’ll see.
Game 1 — 5/11, 6:40 PM: Tommy Henry (1-0, 5.17 ERA/85 ERA+, 1.53 WHIP) vs. Alex Cobb (2-1, 2.01 ERA/214 ERA+, 1.24 WHIP)
After a couple of less than stellar starts when first getting called up this year, Henry bounced back with a strong start against the Nationals. He went six innings, only gave up two runs on six hits and two walks, while nearly doubling his K total for the season. That lowered his ERA by almost a run and a half, taking him from 6.52 down to his present 5.17. He’s still recording walks and K’s at a 1 to 1 ratio. For prolonged success, that number needs to skew much more towards the strikeouts, but his last start was a good first step.
Cobb has been on a tear to start the season. He is seven starts in, and has only given up a total of nine runs so far. That includes one complete game shut out a couple of starts ago, as well as seven scoreless innings in his last start. That was against the Brewers, so not exactly a pushover team, either. He’ll be a challenge for the Diamondbacks offense.
Game 2 — 5/12, 6:40 PM: Ryne Nelson (1-2, 6.00 ERA/72 ERA+, 1.52 WHIP) vs. Ross Stripling (0-2, 6.66 ERA/65 ERA+, 1.51 WHIP)
Last week, I asked how long the leash would be with Ryne Nelson. He’s struggled all season, he had given up 4+ runs in his last three starts, and Hazen had been very aggressive in the week or so before with options and DFAs. After that, he bought himself some time. He had a decent, not great, start against the Nationals that ultimately was a loss for the team, but not due to him. But one start does not end the trend, and right now, his overall trend this season is not looking great. That being said, it’s not like there are a ton of options pushing to replace him at the moment, so mediocre might keep him in the Majors.
Ross Stripling has been used for a little bit of everything this season. The Giants have been having him switch between starting (four starts) and the bullpen (three relief appearances). For now, though, he seems to have stuck in the rotation, with this being his fourth straight start. He hasn’t been great with either role, however. Only one game this year has he not given up multiple runs, and, to be clear, that includes the times he came out of the bullpen. His Fielding Independant Pitching metric is 6.59 compared to his 6.66 ERA, which implies that, yeah, he has been that bad. Last time out, the Brewers lit him up for five runs, including two home runs.
Game 3 — 5/13, 5:10 PM: Zac Gallen (5-1, 2.36 ERA/184 ERA+, 0.84 WHIP) vs. Anthony DeSclafani (3-2, 2.80 ERA/153 ERA+, 0.93 WHIP)
According to both the man himself and several observers, Zac Gallen did not have his best stuff last time out. He pitched seven innings of one run baseball and collected seven strike outs. Remember, not his best stuff. He currently leads the NL in WHIP. Somehow, he’s doing even better than last year in that regard so far, helped by giving up less walks than he’s had starts. He’s also leading the NL in SO/BB ratio at an astonishing 10.67. For context, his career ratio is 3.52. He talked at the start of the season about wanting to make the journalists who left him off their Cy Young ballots eat their words, and he is well on his way.
DeSclafani has put together a pretty decent season up to this point in the campaign, doing better than his career norms in ERA, WHIP, HR/9, BB/9, and K/9. Not at all a bad return for a pitcher who missed all but four starts of the 2022 season due to injuries. He struggled last time out against the Nationals, giving up five runs, ten hits, and a walk in seven innings. Probably not as good as he’s been so far this season, but won’t be a pushover either.
Game 4 — 5/14, 1:10 PM: Brandon Pfaadt (0-1, 12.10 ERA/37 ERA+, 1.96 WHIP) vs. Logan Webb (3-5, 3.46 ERA/123 ERA+, 1.15 WHIP)
This has not been the start to the Brandon Pfaadt era that we all were expecting or hoping for. Turns out, placing all your hopes and dreams on a rookie starter isn’t the best idea. Who knew! He gave up less runs in more innings in his second start, but when less runs is six and more innings is 5.0, that’s still not great. The other silver lining was that he gave up less home runs. Again though when less is two, it’s still not great. Still much to early in his career to be sounding any serious alarms, but maybe not too soon for his 2023 season. Maybe.
Webb is one of the work horses of the NL this year. He leads or is tied for the lead in starts, innings pitched, and batters faced. The beginning of his season was bad, giving up four runs in each of his first four starts. Since then, he’s calmed things down, reigned in the opposing offenses, and the Giants are 3-1 in his last four starts. One area that has been a big success for him is that he has cut the walks down fairly significantly from his career norms, giving up one less on average every nine innings than he has for his career.
The Diamondbacks drew three starters who are doing very well right now in this series, and just the one that has struggled lately. On the flip side, they’ll be running out all three rookies this series, and based off the results so far this season, that’s not a recipe for success. They’ve got Gallen on the mound for one which solidly makes them the favorites there, but the others are toss ups at best. That’s even before you consider the bullpen, which has blown two surefire wins this past week. I have hope that at least one of the rookies has a good start, though, so I’m going to say that they split the series.