|Corbin Carroll - RF||Mookie Betts - 2B|
|Ketel Marte - 2B||Freddie Freeman - 1B|
|Tommy Pham - LF||David Peralta - LF|
|Christian Walker - 1B||Max Muncy - DH|
|Alek Thomas - CF||Jason Heyward - RF|
|Lourdes Gurriel - DH||Enrique Hernandez - 3B|
|Jace Peterson - 3B||James Outman - CF|
|Jose Herrera - C||Miguel Rojas - SS|
|Geraldo Perdomo - SS||Austin Barnes - C|
|Brandon Pfaadt - RHP||Ryan Pepiot - RHP|
Well, after a couple of weeks where the D-backs have almost flattered to deceive, they ran into a buzz-saw on Monday and Tuesday night, with first Zac Gallen and then Merrill Kelly turning in career-worst performances by some metrics. Mind you, it didn’t help that the offense managed a total of five runs while hitting .215. But regardless of where you want to allocate the blame, it’s safe to call this series so far, a harsh reality check. The D-backs had successfully hung tough with the Rangers and Reds, but it’s clear that teams like the Braves and Dodgers are on another level. [As an aside, it should be an interesting series beginning tomorrow, with Atlanta coming to Los Angeles, for a likely NLCS preview]
And so we turn to hopefully stopper Brandon Pfaadt, to see if he can do any better than the 1-2 of the Diamondbacks’ rotation. There’s no doubt he has been much improved since coming back up from the minors. Over his first six starts, Pfaadt was rocked to the tune of a 9.82 ERA and a 7.47 FIP. But in the seven games after his return, it’s been an ERA of 3.48 and a FIP of 4.07, much closer to the numbers the team expected from their top pitching prospect. His average Game Score has improved from 34 to 56 too. Some of the improvement is due to better BABIP (.358 vs. .248), but Pfaadt’s peripherals have also been sharply improved, e.g. his K:BB improving from 21:10 to 39:10.
He has also been much better at keeping the ball in the park. Remember his major-league debut in Texas, where he became only the eighth starter in MLB history to give up four HR in his debut? [Albeit not the first D-back, Casey Daigle having got there first - indeed he’s the only one to have allowed FIVE!] Over his last four starts, covering 22.2 innings and 93 batters, Brandon has only given up one long ball. He was excellent in San Diego and solid against Cincinnati, but as noted above, facing LA promises to be a whole new challenge. After two lackluster games generally for Arizona, they could certainly use a morale boost before they come back to Phoenix, for what will be another tough series, against Baltimore.