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Royals series preview: The Arizona Diamondbacks

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Greinke comes home?

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MLB: Miami Marlins at Arizona Diamondbacks
You can mow my lawn any day.
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Royals play host to the playoff-bound Arizona Diamondbacks in their final series of the season. The first night will feature the return of Zack Greinke to where his hallowed career began.

Game times and pitching matchups are as follows:

  • Friday, September 29, 2017, 7:15 PM CDT - Zack Greinke versus Ian Kennedy
  • Saturday, September 30, 2017, 6:15 PM CDT - Taijuan Walker versus Jake Junis
  • Sunday, October 1, 2017, 2:15 PM CDT - Robbie Ray (L) versus Jason Vargas (L)

Diamondbacks at Royals pitching matchups

Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Pitcher G IP K K% BB BB% ERA FIP xFIP SIERA fWAR rWAR
Zack Greinke 31 198.1 211 27.0 43 5.5 3.18 3.25 3.34 3.34 5.1 6.1
Ian Kennedy 29 149.0 124 19.5 60 9.4 5.50 5.68 5.31 4.94 -0.3 0.3
Taijuan Walker 27 152.1 140 21.0 60 9.0 3.54 4.12 4.41 4.48 2.3 2.6
Jake Junis 19 92.1 75 18.9 23 5.8 4.39 4.51 4.80 4.49 0.9 1.1
Robbie Ray (L) 27 160.1 217 32.9 71 10.8 2.86 3.65 3.48 3.53 3.3 5.0
Jason Vargas (L) 31 175.2 130 17.7 54 7.4 3.94 4.53 4.89 4.82 1.9 4.3

It is really difficult to look at any of these pitching matchups and see anything other than two in which the Diamondbacks are heavily favored and a third in which they enjoy at least a moderate advantage. And that’s before taking into account the difference between the two offenses.

Zack Greinke returns to the K in the Friday tilt. Since his stretch in Kansas City, he’s made the playoffs with the Brewers, the Dodgers (thrice), and now the Diamondbacks, who clinched a Wild Card spot over the weekend. Greinke has convincingly recovered from a shaky—at least by his standards—2016, rebounding to rank third in the NL in rWAR (Sunday’s starter Robbie Ray ranks fifth by the same measure) and fWAR. Any way you cut it, this is another Greinke season on a résumé that looks increasingly likely to end up in an election to the Hall of Fame.

Robbie Ray has rebounded nicely from a rocky (and very unlucky) 2016. As noted above, he ranks fifth in the NL in rWAR and 10th in fWAR. He has struck out just shy of one-third of the batters he has faced.

The Taijuan Walker/Jake Junis matchup on Saturday is the only one that doesn’t HEAVILY favor the Diamondbacks. At least they’re close in SIERA.

Arizona Diamondbacks position players

Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Player Pos PA HR R RBI SB AVG OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR rWAR
Paul Goldschmidt 1B 655 36 117 120 18 .302 .408 .572 .405 146 5.5 6.0
Jake Lamb 3B 625 29 88 103 6 .250 .358 .486 .353 111 2.5 1.3
J.D. Martinez RF 247 29 47 65 2 .306 .372 .761 .455 178 2.4 2.6
Chris Iannetta C 307 16 36 42 0 .253 .352 .502 .363 118 2.0 1.5
A.J. Pollock CF 456 13 71 48 20 .264 .327 .465 .336 100 1.9 2.8
David Peralta (L) LF 570 14 82 56 8 .293 .351 .441 .340 103 1.8 2.5
Brandon Drury 2B 469 13 41 62 1 .267 .316 .448 .324 92 1.2 1.5
Ketel Marte (S) SS 244 5 30 18 3 .263 .348 .404 .323 92 1.0 1.4
Gregor Blanco (L) OF 250 3 40 12 12 .236 .325 .350 .299 76 0.2 -0.4
Christian Walker 1B 12 2 2 2 0 .222 .417 .889 .508 213 0.2 0.1
Daniel Descalso (L) Util 388 10 46 50 4 .236 .335 .397 .320 89 0.2 -0.2
John Ryan Murphy C 7 0 0 1 0 .167 .143 .286 .176 -5 -0.1 -0.1
Rey Fuentes (L) CF 141 3 18 9 3 .241 .279 .346 .271 57 -0.1 0
Kristopher Negron OF 25 0 2 0 0 .150 .292 .200 .241 38 -0.1 -0.2
Adam Rosales IF 84 3 9 9 0 .203 .229 .380 .251 44 -0.3 -0.3
Chris Hermann (L) C/1B 253 10 33 27 5 .175 .269 .341 .268 55 -0.6 -0.7

Playing half their games in Chase Field, the Diamondbacks’ offense looks a little better on paper than they probably are in reality. They sport a .254/.329/.444 triple-slash with a .328 wOBA, the latter mark being the ninth-best in baseball. Of course, once taking park factors into account, their wRC+ is just 95, a mark that ties them for 17th in baseball with the White Sox.

It should probably be noted that much of these numbers were amassed without the services of J.D. Martinez. In his 59 games with the D-backs, Martinez has hung 29 of his career high 45 dongs. Over the course of that onslaught, he’s driven in 65, scored 47 runs, and slashed .306/.372/.761. These are video game numbers. They’ll likely get lost amidst Giancarlo Stanton’s run at 60 and Aaron Judge’s monster rookie season, but Martinez has gone yard 45 times in just 116 games. If you extrapolated that pace out for a 162-game season, he’s on track for a 63 dong season.

Poll

How will the Royals fare against the Diamondbacks?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Royals sweep
    (7 votes)
  • 13%
    Royals take two of three
    (8 votes)
  • 46%
    Diamondbacks take two of three
    (27 votes)
  • 27%
    Diamondbacks sweep
    (16 votes)
58 votes total Vote Now

All stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference through action on Thursday, September 28.

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