Tonight the Arizona Diamondbacks and Royals open a three game series at the K. The Diamondbacks are 15.0 games back of the 1st place Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, while the Royals are 5.5 games back of the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central.
By sweeping the Reds over the weekend, the Royals picked up 2 full games on the Tigers. Detroit couldn’t handle the Pittsburgh Pirates, losing 2 of 3 in that series.
The Pitching Matchups:
6/16 LHP-Doug Davis (3-7, 3.65) vs. RHP-Gil Meche (3-5, 3.70)
6/17 RHP-Max Scherzer (3-4, 3.63) vs. RHP-Zack Greinke (8-2, 1.72)
6/18 RHP-Dan Haren (5-4, 2.20) vs. RHP-Luke Hochevar (2-2, 5.60)
It’s time for the Royals to put away the brooms and focus on the next opponent. Game 1 of the D-Backs series is just underway as I write this.
In terms of offensive team ranking, the Diamondbacks are not much different than the Cincinnati Reds, but Arizona does steal more bases and draw more walks. The team rankings are very misleading. The D-Backs are a much better offensive team than the Reds. Leading the way for Arizona is 21 year old super-stud RF-Justin Upton who is hitting .306/.389/.569 with 12 HR and 9 SB on the year. Upton is complemented by 25 year old 3B-Mark Reynolds who enters this series hitting .285/.371/.576 with 17 HR and 13 SB. It might be easy to overlook 26 year old SS-Stephen Drew who is only hitting .255/.319/.416 on the season, but don’t be fooled by those unimpressive numbers. During the month of June, Drew has hit .346/.393/.577. Arizona’s potential offensive firepower also includes 25 year old CF-Chris Young. Like Drew, Young struggled to start the year and his overall numbers (.189/.248/.354) are not indicative of his recent play or ability. In June, Young is hitting .224/.333/.490 with 3 HR and 6 SB. Chris Young isn’t going to hit for a high average, but he totaled 54 HR and 41 SB between 2007 and 2008. 29 year old 2B-Felipe Lopez rounds out their offensive core and brings a .305/.359/.425 line to Kauffman.
The Diamondbacks bullpen features the “useful” Tony Pena who has a 2.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, and has 23 SO to 9 BB in 28.1 IP on the season. Pena sets up closer Chad Qualls who comes into the series with 13 saves, a 3.86 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 26 SO and 4 BB in 25.7 IP. The Arizona pen also features Clay Zavada (0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 11.1 IP), Scott Schoenweis (2.38, 1.32, 11.1), Juan Gutierrez (4.45, 1.42, 32.1), and Esmerling Vasquez (4.91, 1.55, 22.0). The 2 weak links in the 8 man bullpen are Jon Rauch (5.28 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, 29.0 IP) and Blaine Boyer (6.10, 1.45, 20.2).
The top 3 starters in the Diamondbacks rotation, coupled with an excellent offensive core and a solid ML bullpen, could spell trouble for our Kansas City Royals. Regardless of what the records say, Arizona is a far tougher opponent than the Cincinnati Reds who were just swept out of town. If Brandon Webb were healthy this team’s overall record would be far better than it is now.
Greinke and Meche should put up good SO totals in their starts as the young Diamondbacks strike out more than a reasonable amount. If they whiff 2 more times than the Marlins do in their series against the Red Sox, they will have fanned more times this season than any other team. Despite the SO totals the Arizona offense also ranks in the top 10 in walks drawn. This shouldn’t pose a huge problem for Greinke or Meche. However, it could be problematic for a pitcher like Hochevar. Luke he doesn’t figure to strike many guys out and relies on batters swinging at the sinker out of the zone to get ground balls.
Greinke and Meche will fare very well in this series, but the fate of the first two games will likely end up in the hands of the bullpens. If that happens, the advantage shifts toward Arizona. We know Meche won’t throw a complete game, but we also know that Greinke very well could. End result of the first two games will probably be a 1-1 split. The game 3 matchup of Hochevar and Haren will decide the series. I am very excited about Hochevar’s future, but I’m not excited about his matchup with Dan Haren. Advantage will go to Arizona as they leave Kansas City having taken 2 out of 3 against the Royals.
If you disagree, don’t worry. I think I have correctly projected (maybe) 1 out of the first 7 series, so I will probably be wrong again. Bottom of the 3rd inning and Gil Meche has the Royals off to a 2-0 lead. Go Royals!!!