The San Francisco Giants did not warn us June was going to be this tough. A 2-8 stretch in their last ten games has led to an overall June record of 7-9, prompting everybody to put the phrase “June Swoon” into full force. Like the Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t had a winning June, going 8-10 within the month and are 3-7 in their last ten, so this really is a meeting of a couple of teams trying to garner up the heart to win some games this weekend. We know the Paul Goldschmidt vs. Tim Lincecum tales, although what makes the Diamondbacks more intriguing, and ultimately to me a more hated organization, are the tales like the Ryan Braun plunking that manager Kirk Gibson would like to move on from. The D-Backs are currently 14.0 games back of the still first-place Giants. From a swinging the bats perspective, when you look at the more mainstream statistics, even some of the pitching peripherals, the Giants and Diamondbacks are pretty familiar. The stats that are really close:
- Slash line: .253/.313/.405 for Giants vs. .256/.308/.400 for D-Backs
- BABIP: .300 (SF) vs. .301 (AZ)
- wOBA: .315 vs. .312
- Hitter BB/K: 0.35 vs. 0.31
- Pitching K/9: 7.61 vs. 7.68
- Pitching BB/9: 2.57 vs. 2.76
- Pitching Ground ball rate: 47.3% vs. 47.5%
Now, their ERA, FIP, strand rate, bullpen WPA are nowhere close to each other, so you can guess what side of the ball these two teams differ. Their NL West records are only separated by four games, the Giants being 18-16 (should really not be that low, but I’m trying to forget that series), the DBacks at 16-20. Arizona has really gotten themselves into a hole with their performance against the Dodgers, 4-10. They’re under-.500 against every other division so that’s not helping, either. With that quick scouting report in mind, here’s a look at the pitching probables for this weekend.
Friday, 6:40 PM PST: Tim Lincecum vs. Josh Collmenter
Collmenter threw a shutout in the last start of May, which still confuses me a little. Started this season as a reliever, but not long after the beginning was put into the rotation. He has gone at least five innings in all but his first start, but has been getting hit in his June starts, averaging eight hits an outing, as well as two walks, and five swinging (and missing) strikes.
McCarthy has been getting hit to the same degree as Collmenter, and his high ERA is a product of the mostly awful first half to his season, though the twenty-one earned runs in the last five starts aren’t helping his cause. He has allowed four walks and four home runs total in his last three starts. Has induced double-digit ground balls in his last seven starts.
In the six starts Bolsinger’s made, opponents are 5-1 against the Diamondbacks, but you can’t say Bolsinger isn’t forcing the game to be out of reach by the time the book on him for the day has been closed. One start in May and one start in June to speak of, so it’s tough to get a gauge on the consistency of the 15th round former Arkansas Razorback that will be on the mound against Bumgarner.
Hitters with above a .400 wOBA in the last seven days that play for Arizona: Paul Goldschmidt (.405), Chris Owings (.463), and in eight plate appearances, Roger Kieschnick (.488). Yup, that guy. Has three hits in his two games with the Diamondbacks, including a home run into the pool on Tuesday.
Hitters with above a .400 wOBA in the last seven days that play for San Francisco (not including Bumgarner in three plate appearances at 1.060): Hunter Pence (.453), Buster Posey (.452), and Pablo Sandoval (.420). Good guys to have hitting well, especially as they go in order in the lineup.
I expect the Giants to finally win a series again thanks to the Diamondbacks being their normal selves, and for the Giants to even add a game to their division lead (bold prediction, I know)! By the way, the Diamondbacks are also 13-27 at home. No other team in the Majors is more than five games under-.500 at home. Seems like a recipe for a slump-buster to me, but the games aren’t played on paper. Go Giants.
At mid-season in 2013, Kyle Crick (formerly #43) and Clayton Blackburn (formerly #94) held spots in the MLB.com Top 100 prospects list, and while Thursday it was announced that two Giants would still be on the list to give Giants fans hopes of help coming from the farm, the ranking, with one of the names changing. Since mid-season, Crick climbed eleven spots to #32 and now Edwin Escobar joins the list at #95. You’ll remember MLB.com named Escobar their eighth-best LHP prospect not too long ago. Looking at the rankings from the Top 100, Crick would appear to be the 14th best RHP prospect. Projections on Crick range from excellent reliever to a solid #2 starter, while the talk on Escobar is from a back-end starter to a #3 SP. Considering the Giants problems with depth in starting pitching in 2013, Giants fans saw why you can’t have too much pitching ready for the big leagues. Going around the NL West, here’s an update on what MLB.com saw for the other NL West clubs:
Three prospects made the list, beginning with the projected future frontline starter, RHP Archie Bradley. The #5 overall prospect, and the #1 RHP prospect on their list, Bradley could be the ace of the Diamondbacks staff for years, but that might change if he’s traded for a gritty position player, a pool security guard, or a veteran pitcher. Archie is expected to arrive in the bigs this coming season. I remember the days when I was scared of the Diamondbacks having Bradley, Trevor Bauer, and Tyler Skaggs. The new trio could be something like Bradley, #79 Braden Shipley, and perhaps the soon-to-be-20 year old Jose Martinez. The third Diamondback to make the list was #77 Chris Owings, a shortstop that profiles with a good power and better hitting tools, debuted in 2013.
The Dodgers have too many outfielders and it’s about to get more crowded with Joc Pederson at #36 on the way for sometime in 2014 and the starting pitching continues to gain MLB-ready depth with Zach Lee at #63. Pederson may not be at the level of a healthy Matt Kemp, but reports are that he would be a solid MLB OF. Lee would fit in nicely at the back-end of a rotation, with reports on the ceiling being #3. Other prospects that ranked highly but might be a a year or two away are #34 Corey Seager, a shortstop that is the younger brother of Kyle, and #64 Julio Urias, just seventeen years old and could reach the big leagues in 2015. He’s also left-handed. All these prospects didn’t even require a team having deep pockets, so don’t think that the Dodgers just went obnoxious on these guys like they did for Yasiel Puig.
Two in the top-half, two in the bottom-half of the Top 100, and while four on the list is great, the Padres aren’t the farm they used to be touted as. Still, they have some excitement coming their way, and leading the way is the great defensive catcher Austin Hedges at #24. As long as Hedges can hit, which I’m seeing people say he’ll be able to at least hold his own, you’re going to see him on All Star teams for years to come. 2012 first-round pick Max Fried comes out at #43, a lefty that could be a couple years away. Fried could be their best pitching prospect in terms of upside, but doesn’t get the #1 label put on him. RHP Matt Wisler (#78) and RHP Casey Kelly (#87) could help round out the middle-back end of the San Diego rotation right away.
You know how the Rockies knew they needed to grow their own pitching because their park is not an attractive venue for pitchers? Well, that train is about ready to pull up to the stop, and it’s coming in the form of a possible 1-2 punch in Jonathan Gray and Eddie Butler, both first round picks from 2013, and 2012 (supplemental first round), respectively. By “1-2 punch,” it’s possible that could even mean a true #1 and #2 pitcher, and that could spell big-time trouble for the NL West. Should Gray and Butler stay true to their prospect status, I’m sure Rockies fans would love to see a team-friendly deal lock up those starters through their arbitration years. Gray is #14 on the list while Butler is #41. The Rockies have two more prospects on the list, first-rounder from 2012, OF David Dahl is #71 and years away, as is #99 Rossell Herrera, a shortstop.
This is just what MLB.com’s team thinks. Baseball Prospectus will release their version of their list on Monday. I’ll try to cover that one, but we’ll see. The weekdays are always busy.
Just your average Tuesday night in LA between NL West rivals, and I guess you could say this all started when Ian Kennedy had a pitch hit Yasiel Puig in the nose. Zack Greinke would later hit Miguel Montero in the back and the benches would empty to nothing more than some words and some slowing down of the game. Then Ian Kennedy decided it was his turn to take matters into his own hands by throwing back at Greinke, whom would not start in the 8th inning… a curious move by Don Mattingly, to say the least.
You’ll see Miguel Montero below not really doing any loud shouting with Greinke, which shifts the focus more to Ian Kennedy.
Speaking of Kennedy, he’s just gonna casually walk outta here
Look for #31 and how he just kinda disappears while the Dodgers look for his head
Puig had some words
Ronald Belisario would get his swings in
Diamondbacks coach Turner Ward got some action with the banister of the camera well near the visitors dugout
And a close up for the coach
Something about road apples
Poor Matt Williams, just listening to McGwire vent
Here’s Williams getting Don Mattingly out of there.
Kirk Gibson would be ejected since there were warnings issued, and Joe Paterson would hit Mark Ellis later in the game, although nothing in terms of brawls or ejections happened. The lesson to be had here is Ian Kennedy could have really hurt Zack Greinke, and if Greinke’s aim isn’t slick, he could have hurt Miguel Montero. This is not something that is good in baseball. It will grab the headlines, generate site hits, but happy will I be when the day comes that I don’t blog about this anymore.
Paul Goldschmidt wasn’t touted as some super prospect when he was drafted or while he was coming up through the the minors. Steven Burt of the Diamondbacks division of SB Nation pieced together some evaluations from a few scouts, but whenever Goldy does something productive, I feel like I see the army of fans go after Keith Law. But that really speaks more to what I see on social media, but maybe that’s subject to what happens to come across on my timeline. There are plenty of people like me that really respect Keith Law’s opinion, and he hasn’t become one of the biggest names in scouting because of his inability to evaluate, and any scout will tell you they will never have a 100% track record of being right. It stands to reason then that even the common fan will understand that scouts will at least get one player wrong, but much like the big leagues itself, a lot of people expect perfection. Diamondbacks fans have very vocally let Law know that they strongly believe — with the numbers as their guide — he has been very wrong about their Goldy.
— AZ SnakePit (@AZSnakepit) May 18, 2013
When anybody SBNation gets involved, you can count on their following getting behind them right away for sure.
This guy has made it his life mission to get Law to say Goldschmidt is “more than a bench bat.”
Well, maybe this isn’t a DBacks fan.
Why I think Keith Law shouldn’t be a MLBPA voter…-Shane fb.me/DQpxrW3h
— Real AZSportsNews (@RealAZSportsNew) May 14, 2013
Well that’s just a “don’t-read-the-comments” type comment
— AZ SnakePit (@AZSnakepit) May 18, 2013
Keepin’ it going
@tpollard3 Some people think I feel he’s terrible or something. He’s exceeded all my expectations but I didn’t call him an org guy.
— keithlaw (@keithlaw) May 18, 2013
One of Law’s many responses (you don’t need an insider account to view his tweets, *winky face*)
And I forgot to subscribe from my “don’t read the comments” way of life
I mean, really, guys.
This isn’t something that only happens with Diamondback fans and Law’s evaluation of Goldschmidt, it’s in or been in every fanbase with some player evaluator — sometimes the general manager, the field manager, someone else in the front office, or even maybe a respected blogger or former player. I think Giants fans give Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean a lot of grief for Brandon Belt, and I don’t see that being let go anytime soon.
Honestly, I get, but I’m really not sure why we as human beings do this. Someone makes a mistake, we don’t let them forget, sometimes all in good fun, sometimes malicious. We see this kind of stuff all the time in politics, but I don’t want to go there. I understand the desire for accountability, but if Keith Law ends up being incorrect on the level of play from Goldschmidt to the very end, OK. If Goldschmidt turns into a platoon bat next year, OK. I don’t see why this has to be such a big deal. I’m trying my hardest to think of why there’s a good reason to go off on someone in this scenario, but I just can’t think of it.
The Diamondbacks are tied with the Rockies for first place, while the Giants have had trouble finding the win column of late, losing five in a row and eight of their last twelve. Opening Day starters Matt Cain and Ian Kennedy will square off as the Giants hope they can beat the intangibles out of the Snakes and take some quick revenge for losing their last series at home to them. In case you’ve been lucky enough to miss this stretch of losing, it has been a combination of the pitching, defense, and getting the hits with RISP for the Giants. Normally, most fans would be less irritable if it were just one or two of those, but to have all three of those facets of the game plaguing the Giants right now is bringing about some panicked breathing around the internet tubes.
The lineup for the visiting Gigantes:
Tonight’s #SFGiants lineup: Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Sandoval 3B, Posey C, Pence RF, Blanco LF, Crawford SS, Belt 1B, Cain RHP
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) April 29, 2013
Right-hander Sandy Rosario is here and on lineup sheet. Mijares is gone, had approached Bochy about personal matter after yesterday’s game.
— Alex Pavlovic (@AlexPavlovic) April 29, 2013
and for the home team Diamondbacks:
Dbacks lineup vs. Giants (RHP Cain): Prado, Parra, Goldschmidt, Montero, Ross, Kubel, Chavez, Pennington, Kennedy.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) April 29, 2013
Remember, Didi Gregorius was put on the 7-day DL for a concussion yesterday retroactive to Saturday so he’ll miss this series.
Cain and Kennedy will both get to embark on their sixth start of the year, and the month, so I’m going to put up their game logs for April. Starting with Cainer:
I’m not sure I like where this pattern is going, especially if last start was supposed to be his “good” start, and this is another start where he’s had five days of rest. Hopefully, Cain has worked out whatever kinks there were in his delivery. Having even three of his pitches show up and be excellent would be an improvement over the starts of his I’ve been able to see (can you tell I missed Opening Day?). At least Matt Cain hasn’t been walking everybody, while still getting his share of K’s.
For IPK it looks like this:
“So you’re saying there’s a chance,” is what I can hear from you. While Cain has allowed double the HR that Kennedy has, clearly, outside of his last start, he hasn’t been as sharp as he can be, although he seemed to be fine against the Giants. Funny how that goes when you’re in the midst of a losing streak. I’m sure the career numbers of Kennedy versus the Giants have been and will be widely discussed as the game goes on.
Tonight’s game will be at 6:40PM PST, and my weather app says it will be somewhere around 97-99 degrees at gametime in Phoenix. It’s not even May yet!
In what might have been the longest off-season for Arizona Diamondback fans, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Trevor Bauer, and Chris Johnson were shipped out, and Martin Prado, Didi Gregorius (awesome name, by the way), Cody Ross, Cliff Pennington, and Heath Bell were brought in. Somewhere along the way, it got out that the Diamondbacks wanted players that were “gritty,” “gamers,” “played the game the right way,” yada yada yada. Intangibles are fine when it comes to leadership, whether verbal or through their actions, but even with the moves that were made, it’s hard to see how the team got better. Nevertheless, here they are, their first series against the Giants and at AT&T this year. You’ll remember the first time these two squared up in 2012 in Phoenix, the DBacks swept the Giants and nothing good ever happened again for the Giants. Just awful.
For the snakes:
Dbacks lineup vs. Giants (RHP Vogelsong): Parra, Prado, Goldschmidt, Montero, Ross, Chavez, Gregorius, Pennington, Miley.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) April 22, 2013
For the Champs:
Tonight’s (4/22) #SFGiants lineup: Pagan CF, Scutaro 2B, Sandoval 3B, Posey c, Pence RF, Arias 1B, Torres LF, Crawford SS and Vogelsong RHP
— San Francisco Giants (@SFGiants) April 22, 2013
Brandon Belt turning into the platoon partner with Joaquin Arias until he can get his swing in order, apparently. Once he does find the swing that made him successful, I’d imagine he’s back to getting the playing time we’re used to seeing from Bochy.
#SFGiants have not allowed a run in their last 21.0 innings, their longest scoreless streak since June 25-29, 2012 (36.0-scoreless frames).
— #SFGStats (@SFG_Stats) April 23, 2013
Can the Giants beat that streak? The smart money says “no,” because a lot really needs to go right, and the Diamondbacks still have a pretty decent lineup. However, the Giants did pull that off in a three-game streak against a depleted Dodgers squad, and in one game against the Reds. That was a pretty fun stretch of games.
Wade Miley seems to primarily be a three-pitch pitcher to lefties, loving that four- and two-seam combo with the slider being the finisher. With RHH, he’ll include that changeup, and try to surprise you with it from time to time when he falls behind into a traditional fastball count. Spreads it out pretty well when he gets ahead of you or in two strike situations versus a RHH.
Vogey shares the wealth to everybody, but using his five pitches even more against lefties. Apparently, he is using his curveball-for-a-first-pitch-strike move nearly a third of the time against LHH. Sooner or later, I worry that that’s going to catch on and hitters really start looking for that. I take him to be a pretty smart and seasoned guy, so he should be able to adjust when necessary.
Game time is at 7:15PM PST tonight. I’ll try to hear what’s being said as my wife blasts tonight’s “The Voice.”
The regular season begins this Sunday at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. As I preview these divisions, I’ll tell you a little of what sport betting sites see, what computer simulations see, and what I see. The teams will be previewed in the reverse order I expect them to finish. Let us preview the NL West, where my predictions mean I have no respect for managers that have transformed Eric Gagne‘s career (“Trace, you’re crazy!”), the intangibles, and recent success.
5. Colorado Rockies
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 25/1, 60/1, 150/1
Stuart sees: a team that if healthy, could hit their way to third place in the division. Really! It’s just that I don’t know how healthy they can be, and their starting pitching is mostly what I would call “not good.” Jeff Francis and Jon Garland bring up the back of the rotation, and I’m not sure how long that’s going to work, especially Francis. Maybe he’ll wind up with the Marlins some time this season. The bullpen is whatevers with Rafael Betancourt handling the save opportunities, and the bench not being horrible for a bench. That lineup led by Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Troy Tulowitzki should be respected, and yea, Michael Cuddyer and Todd Helton are older, but if they’re in the lineup, you respect that, too. With this team, I’m just waiting for the wheels to come off in terms of health and then watch the pitching suffer. I’m glad they tried that four-man rotation last year to try and innovate, and hope they try something else this year. Maybe less sacrifice bunting by position players?
4. San Diego Padres
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 14/1, 40/1, 75/1
Stuart sees: a farm system that’s good, but just saw Casey Kelly and Rymer Liriano go down for a significant amount of time, so the Padres won’t have a starter and a worthy OF reinforcement to help them out in the middle of the season. They’ll probably get some assistance elsewhere from within, but knowing your back-up plan isn’t as readily available as you hoped it’d be isn’t quite the start to the season you were hoping for. Back to the major league club, I’m curious how Jedd Gyorko will do as he springs onto the scene at 2B, and I’m sure he won’t mind that Petco brought its fences in. 2012 second-half erupter Chase Headley will miss a month with a thumb injury, and Yasmani Grandal decided to be stupid so he’s missing fifty games, so if the Padres start slow, don’t be all too surprised. The bullpen should be good (again), with the rotation holding their own, promising to be that annoying team that doesn’t just let you trample them in September when you need those wins. I say the ceiling for this team is third, the floor being last. Yea, yea, I can hear you, I know that’s not a super-bold prediction.
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 13/2, 25/1, 60/1
Stuart sees: a front office that went out of its way to make its squad worse because Justin Upton wasn’t good enough for them, and their bullpen didn’t have enough 9th-inning experience so they decided they would be happy to pay for Heath Bell, and why not ship off Chris Young, and get Cliff Pennington, too… as your starting shortstop. Sure, Didi Gregorious will be diddling about in the minors, but if the moves the DBacks made this off-season didn’t make your eyes roll, what will? Trevor Bauer was given up on, and I’m just hoping they trade top prospect Tyler Skaggs to the Giants for someone “gritty” because intangibles, that’s why. Each part of this Diamondbacks roster should be able to pull its own weight at the major league level, which makes them sound remarkably average, and that’s where I think they are, but maybe a few games above that. This team can win the division, and they might have a couple guys that can provide some help in the home stretch if they so desire to bring them up in Matt Davidson, Didi, and Skaggs.
2. San Francisco Giants
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 8/5, 13/2, 12/1
Stuart sees: loyal Giants fans getting ticked at me putting them here just because I predicted they would win just about every three-game or playoff series against their opponent last season which means I should place them first here, too. Some Giants fans after 2010, and now after both 2010 and 2012 get extremely butthurt when you don’t put the team they support in first, as if that’s disrespecting their team. It’s not at all disrespecting their team as it is respecting what the team ahead of them has put together by throwing around money to bring in talent. Changes to this team include: the bench of Nick Noonan, Andres Torres, and Cole Gillespie, and long-reliever Chad Gaudin in the bullpen. Outside of that, not too much different. The Giants must have someone in the crowd of Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, and Barry Zito to step up their game to both compensate the regressions that will happen with Gregor Blanco, and help them make up for the difference in talent on paper between them and the Dodgers. This team can definitely win the division, but I don’t see them finishing any worse than third. I am hoping they do not part with any of their top pitching prospects again to bring in someone this year, but I am worried it will happen.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers
From a Spring Training game vs. the Giants, but take note:
— Stuart Jones (@HeHitsItDeeeeep) February 26, 2013
Bovada’s odds to win the division, pennant, and World Series: 5/6, 4/1, 9/1
Stuart sees: a new land of evil, sure it’s a new kind of blue, or whatever the slogan is, and it’s funny how we associate large amounts of spending with being bad, but the contracts the Dodgers handed out to the likes of Zack Greinke and Matt Kemp weren’t all that obnoxious at all. Swallowing up Carl Crawford‘s, taking a risk on Hyun-Jin Ryu, though, are just going to anoint you king of the moneys by people observing the game. A rotation led by Kershaw and Greinke (though the latter might be a little slow out of the gates) followed by some decent guys in Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, and the question mark Ryu, we’re just wondering who can stay healthy, and who Ryu really is: is he a starter? Or an expensive reliever? The spring of Yasiel Puig came to a halt when the Dodgers wisely optioned him to the minors to get an extended look at him there to see if he can develop some plate discipline, but I’ve heard a lot of positive reports on him even without said discpline. Their bullpen is good, so anything that lineup that includes Kemp, Gonzalez, and the platoonable Andre Ethier can put together in the form of a lead, I expect them to hold it down. Injuries are really the only thing that I can see bringing these guys down (hello, Hanley Ramirez‘s thumb), or Don Mattingly bunting them all over the place. The floor is third, but it is an unlikely floor at that.