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Series Preview # 37 : Diamondbacks vs Dodgers

Two game series can be surprising.

Aftermath of a whiff.
Aftermath of a whiff.
Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Are the Diamondbacks Kryptonite?

This season, the Diamondbacks’ win-loss record against the Dodgers is 5-3. Clearly the Diamondbacks know how to beat the Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks position players are younger than the Dodgers. On 5 August, the active roster showed three Dodger position players were younger than 30, and eight Diamondbacks position players are younger than 30. Possible explanations follow:

  • The Diamondbacks’ aggressive baserunning is unnerving to the ancient Dodgers.
  • The Diamondbacks are constantly improving while the Dodgers are on the downside slope of the aging curve.
  • The hearts and minds of the diamondbacks are more engaged playing for Torey Lovullo.

Trade Deadline Whiffs by the Dodgers.

Like many teams, the Dodgers needed to add a starting pitcher at the trade deadline. After whiffing at acquiring two star-starters, they acquired an average starter.

  • The Dodgers whiffed on Justin Verlander (ERA+ of 131) because he wanted to play for the Astros.
  • The Dodgers whiffed mightily when Eduardo Rodriquez (ERA+ of 148) squashed a trade by exercising his no-trade clause.
  • At the last minute, the Dodgers acquired Ryan Yarbrough (ERA+ of 104). This season Yarbrough made 7 relief appearances (ERA of 7.62) followed by 7 starts (ERA of 3.08). His secondary metrics are a “mixed bag” per Mark Polishuk of MLBTR. He will be a free agent in 2025.

“It’s nothing against the Dodgers or the West Coast or whatever. It’s just about the details to go out there and where my family is. My future is where they’re happy and I’m happy, and that’s why I decided to stay here. It has nothing to do with the Dodgers.”Eduardo Rodriquez

Pitching Matchups.

Although the Dodgers’ starters are TBA, favorable matchups are likely. In this two-game series, the Diamondbacks have a real chance to sweep the Dodgers (fingers crossed). A series sweep of the Dodgers would be a highlight of the season.

Tuesday 6:40 PM Arizona Time, TBA, possibly Julio Urias (4.69 ERA, 4.61 FIP) vs Brandon Pfaadt (7.11 ERA, 6.66 FIP).

Julio Urias. In May, Julio Urias injured his hamstring. He was out from 19 May to 30 June. When he returned in July, his 6.23 ERA was worse than April/May (4.41 and 4.37). In his latest start, against the A’s, he allowed zero earned runs in 5 innings. Because that start was against the A’s, it may not be significant.

Brandon Pfaadt. He made his debut in the Majors on 3 May. A big issue is his 3.13 homers per 9 innings. In his latest start against the Twins, he pitched 7 innings with only one home run, lowering that statistic to 2.84 home runs per 9 innings. Despite that problem, July was his best month so far – with a 4.63 ERA. So far in August, it looks like he will build on that improvement.

“I just wanted to reflect a bit on yesterday’s 1-0 loss, which occurred despite a stellar start from Brandon Pfaadt, easily the best of his career. By Game Score, it rated a 75. That’s a full dozen points better than any of the first eight starts he made, and almost double his average to that point (38). As I mentioned on Twitter, it was the highest Game Score by a D-backs pitcher charged with the loss, since April 7, 2019, when Merrill Kelly had a 79 and lost 1-0 against Boston....” — Jim McLennan in AZ Snake Pit gameday thread

Wednesday 6:40 PM Arizona Time, TBA possibly Bobby Miller (4.26 ERA, 3.54 FIP) vs Merrill Kelly ( 3.23 ERA, 3.81 FIP).

Bobby Miller. Bobby Miller’s debut in the Majors was 23 May. His ERA+ of 101 indicates he is an average pitcher. After his latest start (one earned run in 3.2 innings), his ERA+ moved up to 104, so perhaps he is a slightly above average pitcher. Nevertheless, he is NOT competing with Corbin Carroll for rookie-of-the-year.

Merrill Kelly. This will be Merrill Kelly’s fourth start after his blood clot. His last three 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

In his last start, which was against the Twins, his .231 hits per batter continued the negative trend. As an encouraging sign, he struck out 9 batters (only 1 walk) in 6 innings.