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Series Preview # 25: Diamondbacks @ Giants

Two teams battle with aspirations to win the NL West.

Mike Yastrzemski after a 2 RBI homer against the Cardinals.
Mike Yastrzemski after a 2 RBI homer against the Cardinals.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who battles for first place in the NL West?

The elephant in the room is the Giants’ ten game winning streak. Yesterday their streak was broken. Their streak changed the landscape:

  • The Giants pulled ahead of the Dodgers and are now in second place in the NL West.
  • The Diamondbacks and the Giants are battling for first place in the NL West.
  • Although the Diamondbacks are ahead by 3.5 games, a sweep by either team will tip the scales. If not, the Diamondbacks will remain in first place.

During their winning streak, the Giants scored 8 runs per games. That is amazing! Which Giants scored those runs? The following table shows the most RBIs were hit by Yastrzemski with 11 RBIs, and Wade Jr, Estrada, and Pederson with 8 RBIs each. On Thursday, Yastrzemski was scheduled to get an MRI on his ailing hamstring per MLB Trade Rumors.

During their winning streak, 15 Giants hit RBIs. For details see the following table:

Data from Baseball Reference.

Comparing the Giants’ and Diamondbacks’ Catchers.

Each team has a young catcher of the future – Patrick Bailey and Gabriel Moreno.

As a first round pick in 2020, Patrick Bailey has a high ceiling. He appeared to have surpassed Joey Bart as the Giants’ catcher of the future when Joey Bart was optioned to AAA. His strengths are blocking and framing pitches. This season, his OPS+ was better than Moreno (128 vs 80).

The Diamondbacks acquired Gabriel Moreno as part of the Daulton varsho trade. Due to Carson Kelly’s injury, he started the season as the primary catcher. Moreno’s strengths are catching base-stealers and blocking pitches. It was exciting to see him gun down runners at second base!

This season, Moreno was more valuable than Bailey with twice the bWAR.

Each team has a young backup catcher - Blake Sabol and Jose Herrera.

This season, Blake Sabol’s first in the Majors, he played catcher and left field. His 101 OPS+ is average. His defense at catcher (negative 2 DRS) compared poorly to his defense in left field (positive 2 DRS). His weaknesses are catching base stealers and blocking pitches.

When signed by the Diamondbacks, Jose Herrera was a top-10 international prospect. This season is his second in the Majors. His 87 OPS+ is below average. His weakness was pitch framing and his strength was catching base stealers. When Kelly returned from his injury, Herrera was optioned to AAA.

Each team has an aging veteran catcher – Roberto Perez and Carson Kelly.

In the offseason, Roberto Perez was signed as a free agent. After the first five games of this season, Roberto Perez had surgery to repair the rotator cup in his shoulder. Next season he will again be a free agent.

The Diamondbacks acquired Carson Kelly as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade. In Mrach, he was hit by a pitch that broke his forearm. He returned to the Majors on 12 June. His strengths are pitch framing and his many years of experience in the Majors.

The strengths and weaknesses of these catchers are shown in the following table:

Data from Baseball Reference and Baseball Savant.

The Pitching Matchups

Friday 7:15 PM Arizona Time, Logan Webb (3.11 ERA, 3.59 FIP) vs Zach Davies (7.11 ERA, 4.07 FIP).

Logan Webb pitched better in May than April or June. His OPS split tells the story:

  • .750 OPS in April
  • .519 OPS in May
  • .734 OPS in June

After two disappointing starts, totaling 12 earned runs in 6.2 innings, can Zach Davies bounce back? Perhaps the answer is yes if he can get better results with his changeup.

  • In the first of Zach Davies’ two disappointing starts, Kyle Schwarber hit a home run against his changeup located outside the strike zone.
  • This season against his changeup, batters’ are hitting better (run value per 100 pitches changed from negative 1.9 to plus 3.0).
  • The answer might be as simple as pitch the changeup less often. Zach Davies’ 27.0% changeups was greater than Merrill Kelly (23.7%) and Zac Gallen (13.8%).

Saturday 1:05 PM Arizona Time, TBA (perhaps Jacob Junis or Keaton Winn or Sean Manaea) vs Merrill Kelly (2.90 ERA, 3.68 FIP).

This season Jacob Junis and Keaton Winn are relief pitchers.

Although in prior seasons Jacob Junis has started games, he did not start any this season. In his last two appearances he pitched 1 inning and 1.2 innings. Perhaps he will be an opener for a bullpen game.

Keaton Winn has only made two appearances in the Majors. They were long relief appearances of 4 and 5 innings in games when the outcome was not in doubt. Perhaps he will start this game.

This season Sean Manaea has started and pitched in relief. His latest start was on 10 May against the Nationals. He allowed 8 runs (4 were earned runs) in 2.2 innings pitched. After that he made 7 relief appearances. Perhaps he will be an opener for a bullpen game.

Merrill Kelly’s last start was against the Brewers. He allowed one earned run in 7 innings. Although I’m not sure who will start for the Giants, this matchup favors the Diamondbacks.

Sunday, 1:05 PM Arizona Time, Anthony DeSclafini (4.38 ERA, 3.85 FIP) vs Ryne Nelson (5.31 ERA, 4.64 FIP).

In June, Anthony DeSclafini was not at his best. In two of his three starts, he pitched only 3 innings, allowing 5 earned runs in each game. Although he is a good pitcher, in this game he may not pitch to his usual level.

Ryne Nelson’s last start was against the Phillies. He allowed 5 earned runs in 4 innings. This matchup is even.