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Series Preview # 36: Diamondbacks @ Twins

Will trade deadline moves tip the scales in the Diamondbacks’ favor?

Twins Starter, Bailey Ober is tall at 6’9”.
Twins Starter, Bailey Ober is tall at 6’9”.
Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Twins and the Diamondbacks need to break their slumps.

In the second half of July, the Twins and the Diamondbacks each had a 5-game losing streak. In the last 7 games, the Twins and the Diamondbacks have identicle win-loss records of 2-5.

Twins. For the last month the Twins have barely kept in first place in the Al Central.

At the trade deadline, it appears that the Twins made no big trades. They swapped a bullpen pitcher; they acquired Dylan Floro (ERA+ of 96) while sending Jorge Lopez (ERA+ of 85) to the Marlins). If they fail to make the playoffs, they may regret their lack of trades.

Diamondbacks. Looking ahead, the Diamondbacks need to end the season with a win-loss record of 30-22 (58%) to reach 87 wins, considered by some as the minimum to earn a wild card berth to the playoffs.

At the trade deadline, the Diamondbacks improved their team by adding a closer, Paul Seward, replacing Chafin with Peter Strzelecki, and replacing Josh Rojas with Jace Peterson. Also, they added Tommy Pham, an excellent right-handed batter who could platoon in the outfield.

Who will play third base for the Twins?

Jose Miranda has played third base, but is currently on the 10-day IL.

Royce Lewis has played third base, but is currently on the 10-day IL.

Two players not on the IL:

  • Kyle Farmer played third base on Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.
  • Jorge Polanco played third base on Friday, Saturday of last week and Tuesday of this week. He looks like the most likely choice for this series with the Diamondbacks.

Pitching Matchups.

Friday 5:10 PM Arizona Time, Bailey Ober (3.19 ERA, 3.76 FIP) vs Merrill Kelly (3.23 ERA, 3.81 FIP).

Which pitcher will show he is back to his usual excellence?

Bailey Ober. Bailey Ober is the Twins starter with the highest ERA+ (135) except Tyler Mahle’s 138 ERA+ (who is on the 60-day IL). In his 29 July start against the Royals, he allowed 6 ERs in 4 innings. Can he immediately bounce back?

Merrill Kelly. This will be Merrill Kelly’s third start after his blood clot. His last two starts show he is well on the path of continuing his excellent pitching. One cause for slight concern is that compared to March/April and May, in June and July he allowed more hits per batter faced:

  • .182 March/April
  • .158 May
  • .217 June
  • .224 July

Saturday 4:10 PM Arizona Time, Kenta Maeda (4.53 ERA, 3.44 FIP) vs Ryne Nelson ( 4.48 ERA, 5.02 FIP).

Which pitcher will be consistent?

Kenta Maeda. In 9 of his 11 starts (including the last three) he allowed 2 or less earned runs. Can he extend his consistency to four games?

Ryne Nelson. In July, Ryne Nelson’s performance was inconsistent, but mostly on the excellent side of the scale. Will he continue on that side of the scale?

  • Two Starts. 12 total ERs in 9 total innings.
  • Four Starts. 6 total ERs in 26.2 total innings.

Sunday 11:10 AM Arizona Time, Pablo Lopez (4.01 ERA, 3.40 FIP) vs Zac Gallen (3.41 ERA, 3.20 FIP).

Which pitcher will be on his game?

Pablo Lopez. On 5 July, Pablo Lopez pitched a complete game shutout against the Royals. He struck out 12 batters, with zero walks and four hits. When he is on his game, watch out!

Zac Gallen. When Zac Gallen is on his game (which he often is) he looks like he will be this season’s Cy Young winner.

This season Zac Gallen kept batters off the bases. In the last two weeks of July, his Walks-Plus-Hits-Per-Inning increased from 1.048 to 1.076. After the increase, that statistic ranks as the 11 th best in the Majors.

This season Zac Gallen causes batters to whiff. In the last few weeks, his season whiffs per pitch fell from .139 to .136. After the slight fall, his whiffs per pitch remains excllent (well above my .130 demarcation of excellence).