Since last we spoke, the Diamondbacks reminded some of us that they were one of the best teams in baseball as recently as a couple weeks ago. Many claimed that the results of the disastrous Blue Jays series were proof that the team was finally cooked, but thankfully, the players did not listen and came back to take two out of three against the Braves. They’re still two games back of the Dodgers, but that hardly represents a free fall. There are some muddy waters ahead for Arizona. This is arguably the series where they will feel the losses of Zach Davies (kind of) and Merrill Kelly the most.
The Reds are having an even worse time of it recently than we are. They’re 3-7 in their last ten games played, with five of those losses coming directly at the hands of their immediate rivals in the division, the Milwaukee Brewers. Regardless, this will be a chance for Arizona and Corbin Carroll to get an up close and personal look at the player who is considered to be his biggest competition for Rookie of the Year, Elly De La Cruz. You know, the guy who throws faster than some pitchers, thinks he’s faster than the guy who just stole third on a strike out, and hit for the cycle in his fifteenth career game. You know. That guy.
Game 1 — 7/21, 4:10 PM: Tommy Henry (5-2, 3.89 ERA/110 ERA+, 1.34 WHIP) vs. Ben Lively (4-5, 3.72 ERA/128 ERA+, 1.20 WHIP)
Tommy Henry had finished out the first half a good note, throwing four games of two runs or less in his final start. His first start after the break, against the Blue Jays, wasn’t nearly as crisp. He only lasted 4 1⁄3 innings and gave up three runs. Maybe it was just rust from the ten days rest between starts. Maybe it was whatever bad juju the entire team got into in Canada. Either way, the Diamondbacks will be looking for him to return to his first half form, preferably with a longer start to save the bullpen going into what probably will be a busy weekend for them.
Lively has been around the block a few times in his career. He was drafted by the Reds initially way back in 2013, but ended up splitting a venti cup of coffee (26 total games) between the Phillies and Royals over three seasons. He added seven games in Reno for the Diamondbacks, then went to Korea for a few seasons. Now, a decade later, he’s back with the Reds and doing decently. He’s played in 11 games, nine starts. He’s only been blown out twice, giving up five and seven runs in back to back starts in the early part of June. Other than that, he’s been a fairly consistent 5-6 inning pitcher giving up two or three runs a game.
Game 2 — 7/22, 1:10 PM: TBD vs. Brandon Williamson (1-2, 4.96 ERA/96 ERA+, 5.51 FIP)
This would have been Zach Davies spot in the rotation before he was put on the IL for, as James so eloquently put it, “sucking out loud.” Gambo says on Twitter that he expects Pfaadt to be taking the spot. If that’s the case, his struggles in the majors so far have been well documented. He’s realistically is at the point now where he needs to just work it out in the big leagues, though, so time to bring it on.
Williamson is just 11 games into his MLB career. The results say he’s pretty average or a tick below. Over the course of the season, he’s had some issues with the long ball. Twice this season he’s been tagged for multiple home runs in a game, and is currently giving them up at a rate of 1.7 per nine innings. He’ll give you a free base as well. He has four starts where he has given up three or more walks and only two where he didn’t give up any. If you’re patient, he seems to be just as likely to put you on bases as he is to give you something to hit over the fence.
Game 3 — 7/23, 10:40 AM: TBD vs. Luke Weaver (2-2, 7.22 ERA/66 ERA+, 1.63 WHIP)
This was Merrill Kelly’s spot in the rotation. Last time around, they used a bullpen game for his spot, but that seems like an iffy proposition with Pfaadt going the day before. They have limited other options, however, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that.
Well that’s a familiar name. Still not entirely sure how Mike Hazen turned him into Emmanuel Rivera, but here we are. If you thought that maybe Weaver had gotten better since the trade, you would be incorrect. In fact, he’s worse in just about every measurable way, but Cincinati has allowed him to make 16 starts this season, so just remember that it could be worse when they reactivate Zach Davies and put him back in the rotation.
Well, it’s hard to say, since we really don’t know who will be taking the mound for the Diamondbacks in the majority of these games. I will say, however, that the Diamondbacks offense shouldn’t struggle with any of the pitchers that the Reds are starting in this series. If the hitters take care of business, this should be a series win regardless of what the strategy ends up being on Saturday and Sunday, and with a little luck, they might just be able to get a sweep.