Well, All Star Break was great. After that, went on a nice, completely disconnected camping trip. I feel super relaxed and rejuvenated. Now to take a nice big sip of water and see what the First Place Arizona Diamondbacks were up to while I was gone...
Yeah about that. In their past three series, they’ve been swept twice. In the Mets series, you could at least see competitiveness, but looking at the recaps, it really doesn’t look like the Dbacks showed up in the slightest against the Blue Jays. Bullpen was bad, starting pitching was... not great, offense was non-existant. Just a bad showing all around.
It doesn’t get any easier from here, that’s for sure. They now head to Atlanta for a hot and muggy series against the Braves, who are currently the best team in baseball and currently lead the Marlins by ten games in the NL East. They have the best hitting by OPS+ and the best pitching by ERA+. If you had to point to a weakness, I guess it would be fielding where they are only eighth best in baseball by DRS? I guess? This is going to be tough.
Game 1 — 7/18, 4:10 PM: Zach Davies (1-5, 6.37 ERA/67 ERA+, 1.52 WHIP) vs. Bryce Elder (7-2, 2.97 ERA/150 ERA+, 1.19 WHIP)
Davies had a phenomenal start against the Rays just three turns ago. However, since then, he has given up six and eight earned runs in his next two games. In his last six starts, he has only had a positive impact on the game, by WPA, just once, and only four times out of 11 starts this season. He isn’t quite as bad as Madison Bumgarner was, but he isn’t much better either.
Bryce Elder is putting together a stellar sophomore season. He’s prevented runs from scoreing, the Braves have won thirteen of his eighteen starts, and he has an ERA+ that’s 50% better than league average. Some of the periferals are a bit shakier, though, when you look a bit closer. His FIP is over a run higher his ERA, and his HR/9 is a bit higher than last season while his K/9 is a bit lower. That is what the Diamondbacks will need to focus on exploiting in this game
Game 2 — 7/19, 4:20 PM: Ryne Nelson (5-5, 4.98 ERA/86 ERA+, 1.44 WHIP) vs. Charlie Morton (10-6, 3.20 ERA/139 ERA+, 1.35 WHIP)
Overall, Ryne Nelson has been settling into his role with the team. Since the start of June, he has had eight starts and given up three runs of less in six of them. Those two starts with more than three runs were also the only ones where he didn’t pitch into the fifth inning. He’s hardly providing Cy Young level results, but more often than not, he is giving the team a chance to win, including his start against the Blue Jays where he went 5.2 IP and only gave up two runs, one earned.
Through his career, Morton has either been really good, or nothing to write home about. His career ERA+ is 102 so essentially exactly league average over that timespan. Half the time he is significantly above league average, and this is one of those years. He currently has his best ERA since 2019 when he finished third in the Cy Young voting. He’s always walked a lot of batters, and that hasn’t changed. His K/9 is higher than his total career, but it’s about the same as it’s been for the last seven or so seasons. Add a second tough pitcher to the list for this series.
Game 2 — 7/20, 9:20 AM: Zac Gallen (11-4, 3.14 ERA/136 ERA+, 1.07 WHIP) vs. Spencer Strider (11-3, 3.66 ERA/122 ERA+, 1.10 WHIP)
Two starts ago, Arizona’s ace had one of his best road starts of the season. He had a 9 k/9, only gave up one hit, no runs, and even struck out Ohtani. The only problem was it was only a single inning and in the All Star Game. His last real start was less good. He only pitched five innings and gave up three runs on his way to taking the loss. It was his shortest outing since he went 3 2⁄3 in Pittsburgh back on May 19th. Gallen’s relative struggles on the road have been well documented, but this is going to be a very difficult offense to correct those struggles against.
To round out the trifecta of top tier starters that the Diamondbacks will be facing this series, we find Spencer Strider. Strider, of course, finished second in RoTY voting behind his teammate Michael Harris II. One of the two is definitely having a better second season, and unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, it’s the player who will be taking the mound in this game. He leads the league in total strikeouts and K/9. He has the lowest FIP in the National League. Just to finish the series off.
Oh boy. Could the Diamondbacks win this series? Absolutely. It wasn’t that long ago that these same Diamondbacks were the second best team in the NL. Is it going to be hard? Also Absolutely. Is it likely? mmmmmmmmmmmmm, I’m not sure I can say that one.
The big news of course right now is that Bally Sports AZ no longer will be carrying the Diamondbacks games. Please make sure to go check out the story that we have posted or dbacks.com/watch to make sure you know where to find the Diamondbacks tonight, and going forward for the rest of the season