SB Nation Blog
The Opponent in one sentence
The Diamondbacks stripped down a bit last winter by trading Paul Goldschmidt and losing Pat Corbin and A.J. Pollock in free agency, and while they still have some pitching they are clearly in a bit of a retool mode.
Red Sox 0, Diamondbacks 0
Up, a bit. The Diamondbacks, like most other teams, have only played two series to this point. Their first did not go so well as they lost three of four to the Dodgers, but they did better their last time out. Playing in San Diego, Arizona took two of three from the upstart Padres, scoring 20 runs over the three games.
4/5: Rick Porcello vs. Zack Godley, 7:10 PM ET
Like basically the rest of the rotation, Rick Porcello struggled mightily in his first start of the year and is looking for a recovery in his second. The righty didn’t have his best stuff, but that wasn’t the biggest issue. Even with rising strikeout rates over the last few years, Porcello has never really been a guy who relies on his stuff. Instead, he needs his command to get by. In that first start in Seattle, his control was uncharacteristically off with four walks in 2 2⁄3 innings. He was hurt a bit by his defense, to be fair, but Porcello was missing the zone a ton and when he wasn’t he was often missing right down the heart of the plate. Watch the catcher’s glove in this game and hope it’s not moving around too much.
Godley is coming off his second full season as a starter and he took a fairly significant step back in 2018. The righty will get his strikeouts, as he set down over a batter per inning in each of the last two years. The big difference came with his control. Godley’s never been a control artist, but in 2017 he kept his walk rate at a respectable level before getting up over four per nine in 2018. The 28-year-old will get his ground balls, but even with that he can get into trouble with the long ball at times. In his one start this season, Godley allowed eight runs (seven earned) over 5 1⁄3 innings on eight hits (two homers), three strikeouts and two walks. The Red Sox saw Godley back in 2016 when they scored one run over 5 1⁄3 innings. Interestingly, he pitches off his curveball, throwing the pitch over 40 percent of the time since the start of last year. He’ll also feature a low-90s sinker and a cutter.
4/6: David Price vs. Luke Weaver, 8:10 PM ET
The final results didn’t look great, but overall Price didn’t pitch too poorly in his 2019 debut. The stuff looked as close to midseason form as any of the Red Sox starters, and save for a few pitches his command was fine. Granted, the bar was set extremely low by his teammates, but it was a nice building block for the rest of the year. The home runs were concerning, though, and moving forward he’ll certainly need to be better about avoiding bad misses over the heart of the strike zone.
It’s hard to live in the shadow of someone like Paul Goldschmidt, who was an annual MVP candidate and the face of Arizona’s franchise for years. That’s what’s in store for Luke Weaver, though, who came over as part of the return in the deal that sent Goldschmidt to St. Louis. Weaver, a 25-year-old righty, had his first full season in the majors last year. The results weren’t great, but we’ve seen over his time at the highest level that there’s potential in his arm. He’s shown flashes with his stuff, but his command still needs work. Weaver has had issues with both walks and home runs in his short career. The righty features a mid-90s fastball, a changeup and a curveball.
4/7: TBD vs. Merrill Kelly, 4:10 PM ET
The Red Sox didn’t go with a strict six-man rotation to start the year as had been suggested during the offseason, but they will use a spot starter for the series finale in Arizona to give the regular starters some extra rest ahead of their return home. Now we just need to wait to see who will get the nod. Brian Johnson is the favorite to get the start, but if he’s needed in relief before that Hector Velázquez could get the start.
Merrill Kelly is perhaps among the most interesting starters in baseball that most have not heard of. Similar to Miles Mikolas a year ago, Kelly is a former failed starter in affiliated ball who went over the Korean Baseball Organization and rebuilt his stock there. Kelly posted two consecutive years with sub-4.00 ERAs in Korea, which is notable given how far that league skews towards offense. After Mikolas’ success back in the majors last year with the Cardinals, all will be watching Kelly to see if he can repeat that performance. The righty allowed three runs in six innings on five hits (one homer), three strikeouts and two walks in his debut.
There are no former Red Sox players on the Diamondbacks roster, but there is certainly a Red Sox feel in the desert. That’s because their manager, Torey Lovullo, is a former Boston bench coach (and interim manager) and their general manager, Mike Hazen, is a former front office member with the Red Sox.
Notable Position Players
David Peralta has been an underrated player in his career, lacking the true upside of superstardom but putting together two All-Star-caliber seasons in four years. The outfielder has just average plate discipline, but he makes consistently good contact that helped him get to 30 homers last year and even if he’s not putting the ball over the fence he can get plenty of extra-base hits.
Adam Jones is playing out of Baltimore for the first time since 2007 and he’s off to a scorching start with his new team. The veteran already has three home runs to his name and perhaps he’s feeling a bit motivated after his long stay in free agency.
Eduardo Escobar came over from the Twins in a midseason trade last year and remains in Arizona as their everyday third baseman. He had a breakout last year with more power than he’d ever shown previously in his career, but he’s off to a rough start in 2018.
Ketel Marte is a fun player who gets on base, puts the ball in play and has more pop than you’d expect just by looking at him.
Nick Ahmed isn’t going to hit much, but be prepared for frustration on at least a couple of balls hit toward the shortstop this weekend.
Wilmer Flores doesn’t get on base all that often, but he rarely strikes out and has some solid pop in the middle of the lineup.
Carson Kelly has spent most of his career to this point behind Yadier Molina but is now getting the chance to play regularly after being part of the Goldschmidt deal.
Greg Holland is opening the year as Arizona’s closer and has had two clean outings to start his season. There’s a lot of risk here, though, as the former Royals star struggled mightily to start last season before recovering in the second half.
Archie Bradley is the most talented arm in the Diamondbacks bullpen, but Lovullo wanted him in a more flexible role. The righty broke out in a big way two years ago but got into some trouble with home runs in 2018.
Yoshihisa Hirano was signed out of the NPB prior to last season and while he’s not overpowering he induces some weak contact and provides a bit of stability in the later innings.
Andrew Chafin is the only lefty in the Diamondbacks bullpen and will see some late-game matchups with guys like Andrew Benintend, Rafael Devers and Jackie Bradley Jr.
Jake Lamb isn’t officially on the IL as of this writing, but the lefty suffered a quad strain on Wednesday and is expected to miss some time because of it. The exact timetable is unclear.
Taijuan Walker underwent Tommy John surgery early last year and is expected to return sometime around midseason.
Steven Souza Jr. has had brutal injury luck over the last few years and most recently he tore three ligaments in his knee. That will, of course, keep him out for the year.
Silvino Bracho underwent Tommy John surgery and is out for all of 2019.
T.J. McFarland suffered a shoulder issue in camp and is still working his way back. He should be back soon, though likely not for this series.
This series is in Phoenix, which means it’s going to be warm and sunny every day.