Game Three: Suarez (4-6, 4.11 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. Buchholz (4-1, 2.65 ERA, 1.06 WHIP)
Coming off a win against the Brewers, Andrew Suarez will be asked to deliver the same dominance he did against the D-Backs in June. In his last start in Arizona, Suarez went six innings and gave up only one run. Like many of his starts, the D-Backs put a lot of balls into play against him. Still, this is a good opportunity for him to normalize his ERA that ballooned in the month of July. While Goldschmidt does have decent history against Suarez, it’s Ketel Marte that presents a bigger challenge. Marte has three hits, including two doubles, against the rookie lefty.
Although he doesn’t have lightning stuff like he used to, Clay Buchholz is showing flashes of his earlier career dominance on the mound. In all of his starts this season, he has only one start where he gave up more than three earned runs. In his only start against the Giants at AT&T Park this season, he gave up seven hits and two earned runs over six innings. He struck out seven and induced eleven fly balls, but the Giants eventually won that game after some 9th and 10th inning heroics. Evan Longoria has the most experience against him, but his pedestrian career batting average of .208 is not promising for this start.
Game Four: Holland (5-8, 3.90 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) vs. Ray (3-2, 5.05 ERA, 1.39 WHIP)
After six straight appearances resulting in losses, the Giants won in Derek Holland‘s last start against the Padres. The rotation’s dependable veteran won in his last road appearance against the Padres, although his pitch count forced him out in the fourth inning. Since then, he has proven reliable out of the bullpen and in his last two starts. Newly acquired third baseman Eduardo Escobar has a great history against Holland, going 6-for-13 against with one home run and two doubles. Holland will have a tall task to close out the series in the getaway game on Sunday.
Robbie Ray has not been spectacular in this rotation, as the D-Backs are riding a four game losing streak when he starts. Although he does not have a decision against the Giants, the team is 1-1 in his starts. Ray has combined for 10 2/3 innings pitched against the Orange and Black, giving up 5 earned runs and 10 hits and striking out 15 batters. With a medium sample size, Hunter Pence and Joe Panik have the better career numbers against the lefty. The getaway game should be the Giants best to get a win in this series.
Avoiding a snake bite…
The Giants lineup will see two lefties and two righties, but they will need to get hits with RISP to really make it sting against the division leader. As a team, pitchers included, they are batting .249 with runners in scoring position. Compared with a .272 batting average with their opponents, this number really needs to start improving. Chase d’Arnaud, Evan Longoria and Joe Panik are the biggest offenders in this category.
Although with runners in scoring position and two outs, Gorkys Hernandez and Andrew McCutchen are the biggest offenders in batting average. The most surprising thing is the situational statistics with bases loaded. Longoria, McCutchen and Buster Posey average about 1 hit per every 9 at-bats with the bases juiced. For the guys that are supposed to be middle of the order, they have certainly not been the most dependable.
The bullpen is also starting to show signs of wear and tear. Tony Watson was not his sharpest in the month of July, and Reyes Moronta has also had some issues with blown saves. Mark Melancon has been the biggest liability as of late, collecting two blown saves and a loss in three of his last four appearances. Will Smith has surprised a lot, but the month of July saw him collecting a loss in Oakland. It’s important for the starters to get past the sixth inning, with a four game series immediately followed by a two game series against the Astros.
I don’t think the Giants will repeat a road sweep, but weirder things have happened this season. Their goal should be to take at least two games before heading home.