Our beloved Diamondbacks are on something of a roll. They’ve won eight of their last ten, currently sit in first place in the NL West by a game and a half, and are only a game behind the Atlanta Braves for the best record in the National League. They continue to exceed even my lofty expectations and surprise just about everyone in the league.
The Tigers are not having such a great season. They currently are in fourth place in a division where all five teams now have losing records. Thanks to that situation, though, they are only 3.5 games behind the Twins, despite being 8 games below .500. To add insult to injury, they have lost six in a row and eight of their last ten.
Game 1 — 6/9, 3:40 PM: Merrill Kelly (7-3, 2.80 ERA/153 ERA+, 1.07 WHIP) vs. Michael Lorenzen (2-2, 3.21 ERA/134 ERA+, 0.99 WHIP)
Kelly continues to put together a phenomenal season that is, I believe, being overlooked because he happens to play on the same baseball team as a guy named Zac Gallen. He currently has won four straight starts. He is giving up less hits (6.1 per nine innings) than he has in his career. His K/9 is 9.8, also the highest he’s had in his career. His ERA+ is higher than it has been in any non-COVID season by 34 points. The only real knock against his season is that he is still walking too many batters, but if the other batters aren’t getting hits and usually striking out, it means those walks hurt a lot less. Just really impressive stuff.
Lorenzen matches up well against Kelly. While Kelly has been better at overall run prevention, there peripherals are similar, leading to Kelly having a 3.67 FIP to Lorenzen’s 3.94. Lorenzen has been on a tear recently which could give him some momentum coming into this start, depending on your views on that concept. In his last five starts, he has given up one earned run or less in four of them. The fifth, of course, was the Royals scoring five runs on three homers, because YCPB.
Game 2 — 6/10, 10:10 AM: Ryne Nelson (2-3, 5.40 ERA/79 ERA+, 1.49 WHIP) vs. Matthew Boyd (3-4, 5.57 ERA/77 ERA+, 1.35 WHIP)
Nelson’s last two starts haven’t been his best work. While the Diamondbacks were able to overcome the five runs he surrendered to Colorado and still pick up a win, they weren’t able to come back from the three he gave up to the Braves in his most recent start. Right now, he’s the weak link in the rotation in an otherwise good starting five.
Boyd’s had a mixed bag of results this season. He’s just as likely to hold a team to one run as he is to give up six. Most of his starts, however, are going to be in the five innings pitched, two or three runs given up, with a couple walks and not many strike outs. Last time out, however, he threw his best start of the season. He held the White Sox to just a single run over five innings, with nine K’s and no walks.
Game 3— 6/11, 8:35 AM (?!): Zac Gallen (7-2, 2.75 ERA/156 ERA+, 1.08 WHIP) vs. Joey Wentz (1-6, 7.49 ERA/57 ERA+, 1.76 WHIP)
If a baseball game is played, and no one is awake to see it, did it really happen? As a programing note, this game with be aired on the Peacock streaming service, not BSAZ or any other normal avenues.
Gallen has been getting fantastic results all season long, but too often after his recent starts both he and the different beat writers all say that he didn’t have his best stuff. It started out that way again his last time out versus the Braves, but as the game went on, he clearly gathered better control of his repertoire and ended the game looking much closer to the Gallen we’ve come to expect. Hopefully, that is a sign of things to come, as I personally am a little worried about the disclaimers that keep getting attached to his performance.
In his first season in the Big Leagues, Joey Wentz did well. Seven starts, ERA of 3.03, ERA+ of 130. Good stuff. His second season has not followed that script in the least. In twelve starts, he has given up five or more runs six times. Three times he has been unable to complete the third inning. In his most recent start, he went 4 2⁄3 inning and allowed five earned runs on seven hits, five walks, and two home runs.
This should be a series that the Diamondbacks take easily. The last two game especially feature a couple of pitchers that they should be able to tee up easily. That first game could prove more of a challenge, as Lorenzen is putting together a decent season in the mess that is known as the AL Central. That said, a typical Merrill Kelly start will give the Diamondbacks an advantage there. I say they win the series, with a 70% chance they sweep all three games.