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Giants @ Diamondbacks, 5/17

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Jeff Samardzija (RHP; 2-1, 4.62 FIP) vs. Merrill Kelly (RHP; 3-4, 4.98 FIP)

Boston Red Sox v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

This is an interesting matchup tonight. We know that Jeff Samardzija is not the pitcher he was when the Giants signed him before the start of 2016, but consider how he’s done against this particular group of Diamondbacks hitters. Well, first, the lineup:

He’s never faced Christian Walker or Merill Kelly, but he has seen everybody else. Jarrod Dyson, Eduardo Escobar, David Peralta, Adam Jones, Ketel Marte, Nick Ahmed, and Alex Avila are a combined 12-for-61 with 2 home runs, a triple, and a double.

Adam Jones is 0-for-8 against Jeff Samardzija. Seems ridiculous.

Of course, these matchup stats don’t mean much because of their ridiculously small sampling, and Samardzija’s record against Jones was back when they were both in the AL. He’ll likely be worn out by Dyson, Escobar, and Peralta before having to face him, so that 0-fer becomes even less meaningless.

I think he’ll be tired because the first three batters in Arizona’s lineup have on base percentages of .391, .366, and .359. Peralta is second in the league in total hits and eight of Jarrod Dyson’s eleven stolen bases this season have come since May 1st. Meanwhile, Jeff Samardzija has allowed 7 earned runs (4 home runs) in just nine innings across two starts this month. The negative regression shark has doo doo doo doo doo doo’d all over his nice start to 2019 (2.53 ERA in 32 IP).

Figure many runs will be scored in this one... hopefully some of them by these Giants:

2B — Joe Panik
CF — Steven Duggar
C — Buster Posey
1B — Brandon Belt
3B — Pablo Sandoval
SS — Brandon Crawford
RF — Kevin Pillar
LF — Mac Williamson
SP — Jeff Samardzija

Steven Duggar is unequivocally a better center fielder than Kevin Pillar at this point and after Pillar’s several “high profile” near-catches this past week, it looks like Duggar will finally get a shot to see if he can turn nears into actuals.

Six of Pablo Sandoval’s 14 career home runs against the Diamondbacks have come at Chase Field. He has a career OPS of .873 there as well (65 G, 259 PA). It’s by far his best park for him to hit in if we remove the 70 PA sample at Miller Park (.945 OPS).

Beyond that, none of these hitters have faced tonight’s starter, minor league free agent Merrill Kelly, and we know the Giants have a stupendously bad track record when it comes to facing pitchers for the first time. Kelly relies on a high-spin four-seam fastball that has an average velocity of 91 mph. His 2,412 rpm average on the fastball is right around the Blake Treinen / Jacob deGrom / Drew Pomeranz range. He also features a curve, cutter, changeup, and sinker.

Since these are all major league caliber pitches, the Giants will have their work cut out for them tonight.

Still, welcome back, Buster Posey.