The Arizona Diamondbacks will look to maintain their lead atop the NL West as they host the San Francisco Giants on Saturday night. The Giants won the series opener Friday night 2-1. However, the Diamondbacks are slim -116 favorites to win Saturday’s game.
The Diamondbacks enter Saturday with a 3.5-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West. However, the Giants are just 4.5 games back, and even the Rockies are within striking distance at seven games back. Prior to Friday’s loss, the Diamondbacks had won seven of their last eight games, so they are back to playing good baseball at the end of June.
Of course, the same can be said of the Giants. San Francisco has won nine of their last 12 to push them three games over .500. Not only are the Giants within striking distance of the Diamondbacks in the division, but they are also just 1.5 games out of the second wild-card spot. Despite all of their injuries this season, the Giants are poised for a meaningful second half.
Second Time’s the Charm
Shelby Miller starts for Arizona on Saturday in what will be his second start since returning from Tommy John surgery. His first start did not go particularly well, as he lasted just 3.2 innings, allowing five runs on six hits against the Marlins. Of course, there were always going to be some rough points along the way during his comeback from major surgery.
On the bright side, Miller has good career numbers against several of San Francisco’s hitters, albeit prior to his surgery. Miller has dominated the likes of Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, and Buster Posey during his career, which bodes well for him. On the other hand, the likes of Andrew McCutchen, Joe Panik, and (surprisingly) Nick Hundley have all hit Miller well in their careers. At the moment, Brandon Crawford, who has modest numbers against Miller, is the lone hitter in San Francisco’s lineup who’s been particularly hot over the past week.
Starting for the Giants on Saturday will be Dereck Rodriguez, son of legendary catcher Pudge Rodriguez. Baby Pudge (as people should call him) has given San Francisco’s rotation a nice lift with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija still on the DL. In five starts, he’s 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA. He’s also coming off the best outing of his young career, as he allowed just one run over seven innings against the Padres last Sunday.
Of course, he’s never faced the Diamondbacks and their many top-flight hitters. Paul Goldschmidt has had an outstanding June after a sluggish start to the season, as he, David Peralta, and Ketel Marte have helped to carry Arizona’s lineup sans A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza over the past month. Jake Lamb has also come alive lately, so Rodriguez will have his hands full against an Arizona lineup that has started to click.
It’s too soon to know if Miller is ready to pitch five or six quality innings against a big league lineup. That is the biggest key in this game, and the Giants have too many hitters with success against him in their careers to believe he’ll pitch a gem. There are no guarantees with Rodriguez against a difficult Diamondbacks lineup either, but at least he’s pitched well lately. Take the San Francisco Giants +116 over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.