Arizona at Toronto, July 14-16

Friday, July 14 2023 @ 01:30 PM EDT

Contributed by: Magpie

Old friends come back to visit...

We all remember Miguel Castro, who broke camp in 2015 as the Blue Jays closer. It worked pretty well for two weeks. The next two weeks were not so good, so the Jays sent him to the minors at the beginning of May. At the end of July he was part of the package that went to Colorado in the Tulowitzki trade. He eventually established himself as a reasonably competent reliever. He was traded three more times over the next few seasons, to the Orioles, the Mets, and the Yankees. This year he signed in Arizona as a free agent and has been sharing closer duties with Andrew Chafin and Scott McGough.

Why, who were you thinking of? Oh, those guys.

I would say Gabriel Moreno and Lourdes Gurriel have been exactly what everyone should have expected them to be. Moreno, a year older and a year more experienced, has done a very fine job behind the dish. With the bat - well, I think we noticed last year that all he does is hit singles. You have to hit an awful lot of them to make it worth while, and he's not doing that. And Gurriel remains absolutely himself. In May he hit .352/.416/.714 - and being Lourdes Gurriel, he followed it up by hitting .191/.244/.381 in June. Never change, Lourdes! His power stroke, which went missing in 2022, has returned - he's already hit 15 HRs and should easily surpass his career best of 21.

These two teams last met in June 2019. The Diamondbacks ventured into the Rogers Centre and swept a three game set over the weekend. On the Friday, Kevin Cron and David Peralta roughed up Marcus Stroman for a couple of homers in support of Merrill Kelly. A day later, it was cunning old Zack Greinke who shut down the Jays until Gurriel led off the seventh with a triple. But not to worry - Chafin was the first of the four relievers who finished up, shutting out the Jays on just five hits on the day. And on Sunday, the Snakes pummelled Clayton Richard and Thomas Pannone for eight runs in the third inning - the beneficiary of all this run support was Robbie Ray, who didn't allow very much after Gurriel's first inning homer, working into the seventh and fanning ten. Clearly Gurriel made a positive and lasing impression on the D'Backs that weekend!

Merrill Kelly was a rookie back in 2019. He's still a fixture in the Arizona rotation, and is having an outstanding season. But the Jays will miss him this time around - he went on the IL two weeks ago with a blood clot in his leg. He is expected to return fairly soon, although there's no exact timeline. That's a problem for the Diamondbacks. Zac Gallen, Kelly, and Tommy Henry have been very good indeed at the front of the rotation - but beyond them, all is mediocrity. They really can't afford to have Kelly miss too much time. The bullpen, three-headed closer and all, is deep and solid, but they need to get to those guys. The Diamondbacks are still clinging to a tie for the top spot in the NL West, where they've been perched (snakes don't perch, do they) for the last month. But they've lost 7 of their last 11, and the Dodgers have been heating up.

The Diamondbacks have been a much better team (26-15) on the road than they have been at home (26-24) this year, in particular, they've been much better at scoring runs when they get out of the desert. This is wondrous strange - historically, and for obvious reasons, Chase Field has long been one of the better hitter's parks in the game. And indeed, the team actually has slightly better numbers hitting at home (.260/.328/.434) than they do on the road (.255/.324/.421). But they're scoring 5.5 runs per game in their road games, and 4.5 per game at home. Go figure.


Fri 14 July - Nelson (5-5, 5.19) vs Berrios (8-6, 3.50)
Sat 15 July - Gallen (11-3, 3.04) vs Bassitt (8-5, 4.19)
Sun 16 July - Henry (5-1, 3.75) vs Kikuchi (7-3, 4.24)