The Arizona Diamondbacks are going for the sweep over the Giants in San Francisco Sunday. The Diamondbacks are -115 favorites after scoring 28 runs in their first two games of the season in one of the hardest parks to score runs in. The Diamondbacks’ offense is not elite, but it has performed at slightly above average with a WRC+ of 102, which is a scale that uses 100 as being average. The Giants’ WRC+ is 75, which is horrible and good for 28th in baseball. This even accounts for park factors, which should show a bump from the Giants’ actual production due to their tough park.
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The pitching matchup is what sets the line in baseball, and that is what I want to look at today. The Diamondbacks’ offense is better than the Giants’, but both of these teams can get dominated by good pitching. Luke Weaver is on the mound for Arizona, and he has been rather effective this year with a 3.14 ERA. Weaver was once a good prospect in the Cardinals organization, and he was really effective early in his major league career.
Weaver relied pretty heavily on his fastball with movement, but eventually, it was not enough to get out great hitters. Weaver struggled and got traded for Paul Goldschmidt in the offseason. This season, Weaver has changed a lot about his game, including the movement on his pitches. With his increased movement, Weaver has looked like the pitcher the Cardinals expected to have for a long time, and I think that the adjustments and results are very real.
Weaver has an xFIP of 3.69 and pretty sustainable rates across the board. Weaver’s swinging strike rate has ticked up about 1% this season into the double digits, which is showing that the increased movement has impacted the batter’s ability to square him up. The Giants’ offense is horrible in basically every matchup, and I think it is the second-worst offense in the league right now. They aren’t super strikeout heavy, but they also lack almost any power, especially in Oracle Park.
Shaun Anderson is getting his third career start today, and he has been solid in his first two outings. Anderson is a legitimate prospect with a future grade of 40+, and he is considered the Giants eighth-best prospect. Anderson was a third-round draft pick in 2016, and he has moved through the minors relatively quickly.
Anderson has never really dominated, but he also never really struggled, and I think that is probably where he will continue to be in the major leagues. The interesting thing about Anderson is that he has a fastball, slider, and cutter that are all graded to be above-average pitches. Now, determining exactly what pitches he throws or doesn’t is somewhat hard because different places will classify some pitches in different ways.
What I can be certain about is that he is throwing a fastball and a slider over 85% of the time in his first two outings. Is his cutter also being called a fastball, or is he not throwing his cutter? I’m not sure, but a 60% usage on a fastball when you are said to have five pitches is probably too high. I expect Anderson to be good moving forward, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets hit around by some of the better offenses in baseball.
Overall, I think the Diamondbacks aren’t getting enough respect here. They have a more proven pitcher, although I think they are relatively close to a wash. They have a significantly better offense, and they are hitting great in this series. The bullpens are a complete wash. I think the Diamondbacks should by -135 to -150 here, and I really like the value on them this afternoon. My money is on Arizona.