The Diamondbacks swing through the NL West continues this week their second series against the San Diego Padres in their last three. Results-wise, the series in Colorado went well, especially for all players named Christian Walker. Over the three games, Walker went 6-for-11 with four home runs, three walks, and nine RBI. Walker was the beating heart of the offense during the series and especially so in the final game where he hit two go ahead home runs. The bullpen, on the other hand, gave up the first game of the series, and tried their damnedest to do it again the next two days. Sewald is pretty cool though, and I like having a closer.
Since we saw them last, the Padres hosted the Orioles in San Diego and took two out of three against the AL East leaders. They won the second game of the series on the back of a huge offensive outburst, beating the O’s 10-3 in a game where Juan Soto was the Padre not to get a hit, but drew two walks instead. They also took the rubber match 5-2 behind a solid start from Blake Snell and a three run third that ended up being the difference. They remain 3.5 games behind us in the Wild Card standings.
Game 1 — 8/17, 6:40 PM: Zac Gallen (12-5, 3.24 ERA/133 ERA+, 1.06 WHIP) vs. Rich Hill (7-12, 5.17 ERA/87 ERA+, 1.50 WHIP)
The first gamewill be a rematch of the second game of last series. Gallen was phenomenal in that start. He went six innings, only gave up four hits and one walk, but didn’t allow anyone to come home. Add in eight strikeouts, and you have an Ace level start. That’s great, but the question becomes how much information can we take from that to apply to this series? Will the Chase Field Gallen make the trek to San Diego?
Dick Mountain continued to make a bad first impression to the Padres in second start with the team at Chase Field. He only lasted 3 1⁄3 innings, gave up three runs, including a home run. It was better than the six runs he gave up in his first start, but early returns have not been promising for the Padres so far. It’s up to the Diamondbacks to keep it that way.
Game 2 — 8/18, 6:40 PM: Brandon Pfaadt (0-6, 6.91 ERA/63 ERA+, 1.51 WHIP) vs. Seth Lugo (4-6, 4.16 ERA/99 ERA+, 1.25 WHIP)
Pfaadt had another promising start against the Padres, if you ignore the first inning. He finished with a final line of 5.1 IP, 3 ER, 9 H, 2 BB, 0 HR, but all three of those runs came in the first three outs. It was, however, his second start in a row where he did not give up a home run, a huge step for a pitcher who has been plagued by the long ball through his entire pro career. It seems unlikely that the problem has magically gone away, but limiting it until he can (hopefully) figure it out will be huge for him.
His counterpart held the Diamondbacks in check in the last series. Two runs in five innings would typically be enough to get you a win when you offense gives you a three run lead before you even take the mound. Lugo got bit by the bullpen though, and ultimately got a no decision.
Game 3 — 8/19, 5:40 PM: Merrill Kelly (9-5, 3.05 ERA/141 ERA+, 1.16 WHIP) vs. Yu Darvish (8-8, 4.24 ERA/98 ERA+, 1.25 WHIP)
We’ve finally reached the first Diamondback pitcher who didn’t pitch in the last series against the Padres. Since he returned from the injured list towards the end of July, Kelly has been remarkably consistent even for him. His last start was pretty typical of the other four, six innings, two runs, small handful of hits. The most impressive parts were the season high 11 strikeouts, and, oh yeah, it was at Coors Field.
Congratulations to Yu Darvish on making history in his last start. He set the record for most number of strikeouts by a Japanese pitcher, taking the title from Hideo Nomo, with Nomo in attendance at the ballpark. Darvish has faced the Diamondbacks twice already this year, but one was Opening Day and the other 4/23, so nothing recently. In both games, he held the Diamondbacks to a single run despite giving them nine free passes total. Last time out, he gave up four runs to the Orioles.
Game 4 — 8/20, 1:10 PM: TBD vs. Michael Wacha (9-2, 2.68 ERA/154 ERA+, 1.05 WHIP)
Probably another bullpen game for the Diamondbacks, unless maybe they activate Davies. He is getting lit up in Reno, however, so I’m betting/hoping they don’t.
Wacha is making just his second start after returning from the injured list due to shoulder inflammation. Prior to the injury, he had been putting up career best numbers in ERA, ERA+, and WHIP. In his one previous start against the Diamondbacks, you could tell, though, as he was knocked out in just four innings after giving up five runs. The Dbacks will be hoping for more of the same, but I wouldn’t count the veteran pitcher out.
The Diamondbacks have been looking a little more lively the past two series, and it’s giving me a bit of hope. It might be false hope, since a lot of it comes from strong offense at Coors, but it’s still there. The Diamondbacks should have a chance at taking at least two, maybe three, of these games, but basically they’ll need to keep showing up. Even if we just get Road Gallen, that should give us the advantage in game 1, and Kelly is always an advantage. If Pfaadt pitches well, or if the Padres at stymied by the bullpen game, they might just be able to steal another series win. I’m going to hedge my bets, though and say Series Split 2-2.