Arizona’s season has been as beset by injuries as has the Giants’. Jarrod Dyson, Jake Lamb, and David Peralta are all out indefinitely and all three are big cogs in that lineup. In a haunting “What if?” scenario involving Johnny Cueto’s Tommy John surgery and rehab, Shelby Miller is back on the disabled list with right elbow inflammation and out for the remainder of the season. He had the surgery last April, returned at the end of this June, made four starts, and is now out indefinitely. But the overall quality of the Diamondbacks’ roster depth has helped them turn into the skid more easily.
They’re 60-49, tied with the Dodgers for first in the NL West, and they’ve done it because they still have Paul Goldschmidt (up to 133 OPS+ after a dreadful start to the season), A.J. Pollock returned at the beginning of July after missing a month and a half and posted an .836 OPS in 92 plate appearances. Zack Greinke’s ERA was 4.50 at the beginning of May, dropped, and spiked back up to 3.90 midway through June, but since then, he’s lowered it to 2.96 thanks to his past 7 starts, where he’s posted a line of 48 strikeouts, 5 walks, 34 hits allowed (3 doubles, 2 home runs), good for a 1.16 ERA — he’s back to being this generation’s Professor of Pitching.
They’ve had a very up and down season — far more extreme than the Giants’. They started out the season 20-8, then went 8-19 in May, 19-9 in June, and 13-13 in July. If the pattern holds, it means they’re due to have a big month of August. Both teams desperately need this series win, and both are primed to give the other team their very best — well, at least for tonight’s opener of this 4-game series, anyway. The Giants have Bumgarner going against Greinke, and then 3 TBDs. Always a great sign for a team trying to make the playoffs...
Hitter(s) to watch: Goldschmidt and Pollock are so obvious that I don’t think anything actually needs to be said about either of them, so instead, I’m going with the non obvious choice of Nick Ahmed (.922 OPS in July, including 4 home runs, in 94 plate appearances). Watch out for Daniel Descalso in a pinch-hitting role, too. His career .177 / .233 / .265 line in 64 games against the Giants should make him irrelevant, but his 2018 line of .143 / .250 / .238 in 8 games features 3 hits, 2 of which have been big, win probability changing RBI hits. We might think Ray Black invincible, but this twerp seems destined to futz that up.
Pitcher(s) to watch: Let’s just see how methodical Greinke can be. He’s the one I’m most interested to watch, but as a backup, I’m going with Archie Bradley, Arizona’s setup man. He’s struck out 8 in his last 5 innings (that’s good!) but allowed 7 earned runs over that same span (that’s bad!).
Prediction: The Giants need a series win, they seem primed to split because that’s what they’ve managed to do all season long, but the last few times I’ve predicted a split they’ve lost the series, so, I’m going to say that they win 1 out of 4. Which means they’ll be swept.