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Series Preview # 30 : Diamondbacks @ Blue Jays

Daulton Varsho, Gabriel Moreno, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will play against their former teamates.

Daulton Varsho, former Diamondback.
Daulton Varsho, former Diamondback.
Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Before looking at the pitching matchups, let’s consider three topics (the trade to acquire Moreno & Gurriel Jr. for Varsho, the home run derby, and two ideas of how could Chase be renovated).

Did the Diamondbacks win the trade to acquire Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for Daulton Varsho?

Yes. Let’s keep it simple and look at four points:

Gabriel Moreno made a big impact due to an unfortunate injury. Because in the preseason Carson Kelly broke his arm, Gabriel Moreno immediately was the primary catcher. If not for the trade, perhaps Herrera would have been the primary catcher (with a lesser performance in throwing out baserunners and blocking pitches). Gabriel Moreno exceeded any reasonable expectation. His skill at throwing out runners was awesome.

If the first half performance continues, the players acquired by the Diamondbacks will earn more bWAR than the player traded away.

This season, the combination of Moreno and Gurriel Jr had more WAR than Varsho. This half season, the Diamondbacks’ higher salary (due to acquiring Gurriel Jr.) was adjusted for in the following table. In addition to this season’s favorable comparison, the Diamondbacks control Gabriel Moreno two seasons longer than Varsho (FA 2029 vs FA 2027).

For each of those seasons, the extra bWAR could be 2.9 to 3.0 WAR. The near league minimum for the extra seasons could be equivalent to about 0.5 WAR to .7 WAR (depending on Gabriel Moreno’s performance).

The following table reflects the comparison.

Data from Baseball Reference.

In the first half of this season, Varsho is not hitting well, especially with RISP. The following table looks at OBP and SLG for 3 baserunning situations (no men on base, only a man on first, and runners in RISP), and left-handed and right-handed pitchers.

Data from Baseball Savant.

“This year, so far, the bat hasn’t been what we hoped to see…” — Tom Dakers, SB Nation, 29 June 2023

In the first half of the season, measures of Daulton Varsho’s defense in the outfield are inconsistent. The following table show that in the first half of the season, his measures show some decline albeit his measure remain above average. Is he developing his ability to defend left field?

Data from The Fielding Bible and Baseball Savant.

One positive is that Daulton Varsho is having fun playing for the Blue Jays. Nevertheless, in an interview he politely (and wisely) declined to sing the first part of the Canadian National Anthem. A quote follows:

“…It’s kind of a fun group to be around. We come to the ballpark and just try to have fun, and you know winning kind of helps that.” --- Daulton Varsho, 14 April 2023

Who won the home run derby?

The winner was Vladimir Guererro Jr., first baseman for the Blue Jay’s. To determine whether participation may have impacted the winner’s season, let’s look at the winners in the last 3 contests.

The following table shows that winning (or placing second in 2019 for Guererro Jr.) the derby has a generally positive impact on slugging (SLG).

Data from Baseball Reference.

How could Chase be renovated?

Looking at the Blue Jays’ Rogers Centre, a hotel is an integral part of the stadium. The premium rooms overlook the stadium. Perhaps a hotel could be part of a renovated Chase. The hotel could replace some of the fan seating farthest from the action.

Looking at the A’s proposed Howard Terminal Ballpark (which won’t be built), the upper level was covered in grass. Perhaps the uppermost deck at Chase could be changed into areas with artificial grass and trees. The unfriendly steepness of the uppermost deck could be changed into a series of level plateaus. Fans could sit on the grass or rent lawn chairs. The area could be aesthetically pleasing to see and experience.

Pitching Matchups.

Friday 4:07 PM Arizona Time, Jose Berrios (3.5 ERA, 3.95 FIP) vs Ryne Nelson (5.19 ERA, 4.66 FIP).

This season, Jose Berrios’s ERA improved from 5.23 to 3.50. But it’s been a journey.

  • Against the Royals, in his first start of the season, Jose Berrios allowed 8 earned runs in 5.2 innings.
  • Against the White Sox, in his latest start of the season, Jose Berrios allowed zero runs, one hit, and one walk in 7 innings.

Recently, Ryne Nelson’s performance was inconsistent. By assigning him the first start after the All-Star break, the Diamondbacks showed their confidence in Ryne Nelson.

  • In July against the Angels, he pitched 7.1 innings with 3 hits and one earned run.
  • In July against the Mets, he pitched 3 innings and faced 18 batters, allowing 7 runs.

Saturday 12:07 PM Arizona Time, Kevin Gausman (3.03 ERA, 2.45 FIP) vs Zac Gallen (3.04 ERA, 2.77 FIP).

Ths game will be a pitching battle. They have nearly the same ERAs (3.03 vs 3.04) . They have the same excellent 0.14 whiffs per pitch. One strength of each pitcher follows:

  • Strikeouts. This season Kevin Gausman struck out 153 batters, the second most in the Majors. He struck out 32.6% of batters faced.
  • This season Zac Gallen kept batters off the bases. His 1.048 Walks-Plus-Hits-Per-Inning was the ninth best in the Majors. Zac Gallen was named the starting pitcher at this season’s All-Star game. he allowed zero runs in 1 inning pitched. He struck out Ohtani.

Sunday 10:37 PM Arizona Time, Yusei Kikuchi (4.24 ERA, 5.19 FIP) vs Tommy Henry (3.75 ERA, 5.26 FIP).

In July, Yusei Kikuchi started two games. He pitched a total of 9.1 innings with 9 earned runs. Can he bounce back?

In his last 4 starts, Tommy Henry averaged more than 6 innings per start, with an average of one earned run. I’m glad to see him in the Diamondbacks’ rotation!