The sky is falling! Or it isn’t... Depends on who you ask right now. Personally, I see it as somewhere in the middle. This past series is not proof that the Diamondbacks are doomed to somehow end up in the draft lottery this year. However, the Phillies series confirmed and highlighted some of the flaws that we all knew this team had since before Opening Day. The starting rotation doesn’t have a lot of reliable depth. The bullpen is shaky. The rookies in the lineup are, well, rookies. If nothing else, this series clearly defined what Hazen will be working on at the trade deadline in about a month and a half.
On to the next.
Game 1 — 6/16, 6:40PM: Zac Gallen (7-2, 3.09 ERA/141 ERA+, 1.15 WHIP) vs. Triston McKenzie (0-1, 4.50 ERA/94 ERA+, 1.20 WHIP)
After a truly incredible start to the season, Zac Gallen has come much closer to earth. Last start was especially rough as “not having his best stuff” caught up to him, resulting in him giving up five earned runs for the second time in less than a month. A closer look at his statistics show a couple of things, however. One, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is actually the best in all of baseball right now at 2.40. Generally that is considered to be something of an indicator for what a pitchers ERA “should” be, and at no point in his career has his ERA ended the season significantly above that number. Two, his BABiP is high at .326. Some of that might be because, as many have pointed out, he isn’t fooling hitters as much as normal. However, it also indicates that it might be easier and quicker for him to snap back than it might otherwise be.
McKenzie pitched a full season last year as a starter for the Guardians, putting up pretty good numbers. He spent the first two months of this season, however, on the IL for a shoulder injury. This start will be just his third game back since being activated, and the first two could not have been more different. In his first, he went five scoreless innings, with ten strike outs, with only one hit and one walk. In his second, he also went five innings, but gave up five runs, with seven hits, three walks, and a homer.
Game 2 — 6/17, 7:10PM: Tommy Henry (3-1, 4.86 ERA/90 ERA+, 1.38 WHIP) vs. Shane Bieber (5-3, 3.29 ERA/124 ERA+, 1.22 WHIP
I don’t want to jinx anything, but Tommy Henry’s last two starts have been pretty good. He had his scoreless start against Colorado, but he followed that with a scoreless relief appearance then a 5 2⁄3 inning start against the Phillies where the only real black marks were two solo home runs. It was a significant improvement over his first start against the Phillies which was a five ER performance. He’s faced the Guardians once before, a loss where he gave up four runs.
Bieber is not anywhere near the levels he was in 2020 when he won the Cy Young award, but is still doing very well this season, especially (mostly) his last five games. In that time period, he has averaged about 6 1⁄3 innings and in four of the starts gave up two runs or less. The exception is a pretty stark contrast. He only lasted four innings against the Orioles and gave up a whopping seven runs. Maybe another poor outing against the Diamondbacks lowers the price for him at the deadline to the point we can afford it
Game 3 — 6/18, 1:10PM: Zach Davies (1-2, 5.46 ERA/80 ERA+, 1.61 WHIP) vs. TBD
Last time out, Zach Davies had his worst start yet since returning from the IL. He only lasted three innings but still managed to give up six runs (four earned) in that time frame. The lack of length is especially frustrating, given that in the past he could reasonably be expected to give you five innings per outing, but in his four starts back, half of them he wasn’t even able to complete the fourth.
Despite the question marks surrounding the pitching, this should be a good series for the Diamondbacks. Cleveland is technically in contention for a playoff position, but that is more by virtue of the Twins being... not great, shall we say, than Cleveland’s ability. I like our chances every time Gallen takes the mound, and I think we’ll be able to take at least one of the other two games. Which one is most likely is hard to say, since as of writing, we don’t know who will be on the mound for the Guardians on Sunday. Diamondbacks take the series 2-1 and maybe put away the talk that the sky is falling for right now.