The Giants continue their home stand with the final series of 2018 against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Hard to believe there won’t be any September games against them, but here we are. As the season at large winds down, the marketing team has stacked promotional nights like airplanes above an airport, making tonight Irish Heritage, Union, and The Sandlot Night at AT&T Park. Tomorrow night is Bruce Lee Tribute Night, and Wednesday is Jewish Heritage Night. Our sponsor StubHub has tickets for all three games of the series starting at $6. And don’t forget, at the end of the week is Star Trek Night, which will also be a fireworks night. Again, StubHub has tickets starting at $6 for that game. Go and get me a Star Trek hat!
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks are trying to upend the preseason predictions and steal the NL West title belt from the Dodgers. Remember their hot af 20-8 start that was bumfuzzled by an 8-19 May? They took off again in June (19-9), went 13-13 in July, and have held steady (12-9) here in August to go up a game on the Colorado Rockies (!). Their next seven games are against the middling Giants and the scuffling Dodgers and I’m sure — I’m certain — the Giants would like to send them to LA a little more bumfuzzled.
The Giants lead the season series 9-7, so they need only one more victory to lock down that series win. This matchup is one of the reasons why I’ve felt the Giants have avoided playing down to their level of opposition while still playing up to better teams. They took 2 out of 3 against them in that hot June of theirs and swept them again later in the month heading into July. Those 9 losses are the most the Diamondbacks have lost to any other team this season.
Of course, both teams come into this series in wildly different situations. Arizona seems setup to make another big run in September as they’re coming together and getting as healthy as can be — Jake Lamb, Taijuan Walker, and Shelby Miller are all done for the season, but Steven Souza Jr. is back and A.J. Pollock has managed to come back and stay on the field — while the Giants have lost the face of their franchise for the rest of the season and have either questionable platoons or slumping players everywhere except for Andrew McCutchen. Can he alone defeat the Diamondbacks? He’ll probably have to.
Pitcher to watch
Brad Boxberger has 3 saves in 6.1 innings against the Giants this season, but also a blown save (one of his six) and a loss. Closers are... well... let’s all admit that it’s a volatile position, but Boxberger has acquitted himself pretty well. The Giants, by the way, lead major league baseball in blown saves with 27. The Diamondbacks have blown 17 games overall. Do the Giants have his number? Probably not, but it’s not an implacable situation they’re facing if he’s trying to close out a 1-run game.
Hitter to watch
David Peralta has hit 9 home runs in August to give him a career-high 25 on the season. He’s also slashing .395 / .443 / .802 (1.246) in 88 plate appearances and he’s walked seven times, which is unusual. He’s walked 38 times on the season, so this August tally represents 18% of his season total. But again, he’s having a career year, sporting a .903 OPS that’s over a hundred points higher than his career average coming into the season. He’s on pace to strike out more than ever before, but also to draw more walks and hit for more power. He’s a 30-year old outfielder doing what above average 30-year old outfielders tend to do at 30 years old: hit their peak.
Peralta also sports a 1.862 WPA for the month [Read more about Win Probability Added (WPA) here]. On the season, Peralta is 26th in baseball with 2.26 WPA added (Paul Goldschmidt is 4th in MLB with 3.92). That means that the bulk of the help he’s provided his team to win a baseball game has come this month. If you want to label that as “clutch”, then so be it (although, FanGraphs has their own Clutch stat you can read about here).
He’s done most of his damage against right-handed pitching, so besides Goldschmidt, he’ll be a key matchup in Chris Stratton and Dereck Rodríguez’s starts.
With both Madison Bumgarner and Dereck Rodríguez starting in the series, the Giants are gonna figure out a way to win 2 of these suckers.