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Series Preview # 29 : Diamondbacks vs Pirates

Henry Davis hit a homer against Marlins.
Henry Davis hit a homer against Marlins.
Photo by Megan Briggs/Getty Images

The last series with the Pirates was less than a walk in the park.

In May the Diamondbacks won their series against the Pirates. The starting pitchers were Gallen, Kelly, and Pfaadt.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of that series was that the Diamondbacks lost the game that Gallen started. Gallen allowed 8 runs (5 earned) in 3.2 innings pitched. Ke’Bryan Hayes had some success against Gallen with an RBI double in the second inning and an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Zac Gallen will pitch the first game of the series. Will this game be pitched differently than the last game against the Pirates? This time, will he hold Ke’Bryan Hayes hitless?

The Pirates are a streaky team.

Data from Baseball Reference.

The previous series between the Diamondbacks and Pirates included games 44-46, when the Pirates were neither hot nor cold. That appears to be the case for this series, too.

Two Pirates’ top prospects worth noticing.

Henry Davis. In 2021 he was the first pick in the first round. Currently he is ranked as the 38th best prospect in baseball. Although he is a catching prospect, this season he is playing right field. His .786 OPS shows his success.

Endy Rodriguez. Will he be the next prospect to be called up? Currently he is ranked the 17th best prospect in baseball. He could play second base or in the outfield.

The Pitching Matchups:

Friday 6:40 PM Arizona Time, Rich Hill (4.50 ERA, 4.29 FIP) vs Zac Gallen (3.15 ERA, 2.84 FIP).

Rich Hill. Rich Hill’s last four starts were consistently near average, generally 3 earned runs in 5 innings.

Zac Gallen. It’s likely that Zac Gallen’ last start against the Pirates motivated him to prepare above and beyond. Perhaps the Pirates will be shutout by Zac Gallen. In any case, this game is advantage Diamondbacks.

Saturday 1:10 PM Arizona Time, Mitch Keller (3.52 ERA, 3.30 FIP) vs TBA, possibly Drey Jameson (3.11 ERA, 4.52 FIP).

Mitch Keller. He is the ace of the Pirates rotation. Mitch Keller’s latest two starts were against the Padres and Dodgers. His results were inconsistent.

  • Against the Padres he allowed 1 earned run in 6 innings.
  • Against the Dodgers he allowed 4 earned runs in 5 innings pitched.

Drey Jameson. The Diamondbacks have clearly stated that Drey Jameson is a reliever. Therefore, this game could be a bullpen game. However, heavy bullpen use against the Mets could make a starter callup a possibiliy. In June, Jameson pitched between 2 and 3.1 innings per game. I anticipate 3 innings before he is replaced. If it was against any Pirate Pitcher not named Keller, I’d like the Diamondback’s chances. Nevertheless, Keller is inconsistent so the Diamondbacks have chances.

Sunday 1:10 PM Arizona Time, TBA, possibly Luis Ortiz (4.86 ERA, 6.20 FIP) vs Zach Davies (6.52 ERA, 4.39 FIP).

Luis Ortiz. Currently he is ranked the 84th best prospect in baseball. After a cup of coffee in September of last season, this season he was in the rotation since 9 May. His sub-5 ERA reflects his success as a rookie starter.

Luis Ortiz’s last start was against the Dodgers. He allowed 3 home runs in 3.2 innings pitched. Five of his six earned runs were from those home runs. After 6 innings, the score was tied. In the final three innings, the Pirates bullpen beat the Dodgers. Despite some inconsistency, this season Luis Ortiz earned a spot in the Pirates’ rotation.

Zach Davies. Following 3 disappointing starts, in his last two starts Zach Davies may have turned the corner. Against the Rays he allowed 2 hits in 7 innings. No runs were earned against Davies.

Against the Mets, the story is more nuanced. He allowed 7 hits in 5.2 innings. The Mets are a slugging team and their feast or famine strategy paid off with two home runs (4 earned runs). Torey Lovullo was pleased that Davies left the game with the Diamondbacks “in a good spot” to win the game with a “bullpen that was fully loaded” in a “three inning race.”

“Zack Davies today was fantastic.” — Torey Lovullo, postgame interview 4 July 2023

“The box score does not always tell the right story. [It was a story about] Two decent pitches that they got to. [And yet it’s also a story about constantly striving to improve.] [Because of the pitch clock] You just have to think a little bit quicker.” — Zach Davies, postgame interview 4 July 2023

In any case, Zack Davies has recently improved. Did Brent Strom show yet again that he knows pitching? Are the pieces finally fitting together in harmony? In this series against the Pirates I’m looking forward to a third consecutive improved start!