The bullpens are rested, the catchers have had the time to stretch out their legs and relax, players have had time to see their families and enjoy some home-cooked meals, and now regular season baseball activities are about to be resumed. The Diamondbacks lead the NL West, thanks in large part to an incredible 21-12 record in games decided by one run. Why might that not be totally sustainable or predictive in their continued hold over the top of the division nobody can run away with? Their FIP for the rotation ranks 19th at 4.07 (the Giants are 16th at 3.99), FIP for the bullpen is 21st at 3.78 (Giants 8th at 3.46) and their wOBA for their hitters is tied for 19th at .309 (Giants 21st at .308). While, yes, I should provide the disclaimer that there should be more in depth analysis of the respective numbers of the Diamondbacks, you can understand why the D-Backs might not be favored to win the division, as their numbers are not suggesting they will be able to run away with it if they don’t get some help to improve their roster, be it in-house or through a trade. After having their only below-.500 month in June at 12-15, Arizona is 8-6 to start July. They are 3-6 against the Giants in 2013.
Battle of the All-Stars: You already know it’s Paul Goldschmidt. When is it not Paul Goldschmidt. The man is seemingly batting 1.000/1.000/4.000 against the Giants in his career and when he makes contact with the ball, you can see a tear come from Lou Seal’s eyes. According to non-made-up-stats, Goldschmidt has a .405 wOBA with a 157 wRC+. Goldy also has 21 HR on the year. How do the Giants counter? With one of their other All-Stars in savior to the universe in Buster Posey, with his .398 wOBA and 162 wRC+. Posey doesn’t have as many HR, but he is dreamier, and you cannot argue that.
The Starter Matchups
Friday, 7:15PM PST: RHP Ian Kennedy vs. RHP Chad Gaudin
Kennedy has had one start this year where he has not allowed a walk, and has no starts where he and his defense were unable to avoid allowing an earned run. The 5.42 ERA with the 4.69 FIP suggests he’s not as bad as public perception might be, and the walk rates and home run rates are higher than the great season we saw out of him in 2011. Gaudin only has had two starts since his injury put him on the DL, but he’s kept the Giants in the game both times, being fortunate enough to surrender less than five hits in both outings and striking out fourteen total. Giants fans hope his successful season continues on Friday.
Saturday, 6:05PM PST: LHP Wade Miley vs. RHP Matt Cain
Miley has been an innings eater for the Diamondbacks, second only to Patrick Corbin on the team, but has allowed homers in eight of his last ten starts, and has seen five or more hits get past him and his defense in all but two of his starts. He does have a pretty good 1.66 ERA in July in three starts, which is something Giants fans can only dream about for Matt Cain. The last time he went more than 2.1 IP in a start was in June, and that is a little misleading being that June wasn’t so long ago. Two bad starts in a row for Cain is not like him, and management, as well as Cain, insists there are no health problems. There’s been discussion about bone chips floating around in his elbow, but I would rather not play internet amateur doctor and talk about what that could mean.
Sunday, 1:05PM PST: RHP Randall Delgado vs. LHP Madison Bumgarner
So far, Delgado has been able to provide at least five innings of work for the DBacks in each of his starts, going at least six in all but one of his starts. Each outing of his this year has seen him allow either two or three earned runs despite around a .374 wOBA against for the year; the Giants will hope that they can break that pattern with more earned runs to his record. From around .374 to around .248 in the wOBA against, Bumgarner was the lone Giants starter worthy of an All Star selection. He has gone exactly 7.0 IP in each of his last six innings, and less than five hits have been surrendered in five of his last six starts. He will be 24 at the beginning of August.
Not sure what this means
— MLB (@MLB) July 18, 2013
SeriesPrediction: I’m going to thank the stars that Patrick Corbin is staying out of this one and feel good in predicting that the Giants will start off the post-All Star Break right in taking two of three from the first-place Diamondbacks. That would only net them a game, but it will be a good start towards a better second half.