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Series Preview # 43: Diamondbacks @ Rockies

Do you like high scoring games? Don't miss this series between the Diamondbacks and the Rockies!

Gerardo Parra and Stephen Cardullo in the dugout.
Gerardo Parra and Stephen Cardullo in the dugout.
Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Diamondbacks (56-77)

@ Rockies (64-68)

This season, the Rockies led all 30 teams in one statistic. That statistic is runs. Rockies had 1352 runs (runs scored plus runs allowed) as of 28 August. Which team was second with 1322 runs? The Diamondbacks! Are you ready to see lavish and abundant runs? I am!

Many Diamondback fans fondly remember Gerardo Parra. On Monday, he got his 1000th career hit. It was an RBI single in the seventh inning. He said, "It was big, really big. I’d like to say thank you to God, say thank you to my family, my son, my wife, my fans. It’s not easy. It’s easy to say, but it’s not easy to make it here. I’m happy, and I’m going to continue working hard."

Who is Stephen Cardullo?

  • On Monday, he got his first hit in the Majors. He said, "That at-bat, I was just trying to have a good at-bat to get on-base to help the team win, and it was a great feeling." "Last year at this time, I was in New York playing independent baseball and now having this first hit, all the blessings are from God." He plays for the Rockies.
  • Walt Weiss, Rockies manager, said, "It was extra special seeing Cardullo getting his first hit. It’s a great story of perseverance. He’s a really good kid. You don’t stick around and succeed and get to this point if you’re not a great teammate, and you’ve got to have an outstanding work ethic to overcome the odds like he has."
  • In 2010, the Diamondbacks drafted Stephen Cardullo in the 24th round. After two years in the minors (rookie league), he played four years in two independent leagues. In January 2016, the Rockies signed him as a free agent. He played 115 games for the Rockies in AAA before being called up. He made his debut in the Majors on 26 August for the Rockies.

Shelby Miller’s return on Wednesday was huge! After a 2 run first inning, he pitched five scoreless innings. His pitching was often dominant. He is nearly ready for 2017. It impacted who will pitch this series against the Rockies. To make room for Shelby Miller, Zack Godley was moved to the bullpen. And with team off-days on Monday and Thursday, Robbie Ray will pitch Friday, Braden Shipley will pitch Saturday, and Archie Bradley will pitch Sunday.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Jorge De La Rosa (5.09 ERA, 4.99 FIP, 5.4 IP/GS) vs Robbie Ray (4.28 ERA, 3.50 FIP, 5.6 IP/GS).

In De La Rosa's last start, he struck out 8 batters in 5 innings! His strikeout rate makes him a dangerous pitcher. Despite that fact, I predict Diamondbacks hitters will score more runs than De La Rosa's strikeouts.

This season, Greinke(FIP 3.64) and Ray (FIP 3.5) have separated themselves from the other starters. These two starters, plus Rubby De La Rosa, have an ERA+ of greater than 100. I feel confidence when these two pitch. I confidently predict a win.

Saturday. Chad Bettis (5.17 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 5.7 IP/GS) vs Braden Shipley (4.75 ERA, 5.84 FIP, 6.0 IP/GS).

Chad Bettis had a streak of 6 consecutive quality starts through 6 August. That streak was not just luck - he has some talent.

Braden Shipley's first year in the majors has been feast or famine. This season he was an "ace" for three games, average for one game, and "learning lessons" (6-7 earned runs) for three games. This unpredictability reminds me of another D'Backs pitcher, who is on the disabled list.

Sunday. Jon Gray(4.41 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 5.8 IP/GS) vs Archie Bradley (4.95 ERA, 4.69 FIP,5.6 IP/GS).

Jon Gray is the "ace" of the Rockies' staff. Like Chad Bettis, he had a streak of 6 consecutive quality starts through 2 August. In August, he earned two wins, two losses, and two no decisions.

In August, Bradley's first 5 starts had a negative win probability added. In his last start on August 28, Bradley pitched great. It was a quality start. A second consecutive quality start would impress me!

New York Mets v Arizona Diamondbacks
Pregame Preparation.
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Player in the Spotlight

Our player in the spotlight works hard. His favorite bible verse is about hard work (Proverbs 10:4). He believes baseball players will be rewarded for hard work on or off the field. Nevertheless, some players with a strong work ethic succeed and some fail.

What made the difference between success and failure? For our player in the spotlight, two ideas tipped the balance in his favor. They are easy to understand and yet hard to do.

First, he quickly overcame disappointment and adversity. How did our player in the spotlight react when the Diamondbacks demoted him from AA Mobile to high A Visalia? He asked himself a question. Why was it that other hitters who weren’t as big or strong are able to drive the ball to the opposite filed with authority? He looked for answers. He read the hitting philosophy of Bobby Tewksbary. He studied the swings of Josh Donaldson and A.J. Pollock. He changed his hit mechanics while in Visalia.

Tewksbary Hitting Philosophy. Everything your body does effects how the bat barrel moves. Four elements of hitting mechanics are most important.

  • Swing plane – enables contact to all fields and optimal launch angle of 10-15% (ideal for hard contact).
  • Depth of swing – the bat enters the strike zone as far back as possible(batter has more time to make up his mind whether to swing).
  • Path of swing – the natural path of the bat approaching the ball from the inside.
  • For some batters, a leg kick allows their swing to be free and with good rhythm .

Josh Donaldson’s swing. Josh compared his swing to a rubber band. He uses his hips, back, and especially shoulders to create bat speed "effortlessly". His natural flow and rhythm is enhanced by his high leg kick and the leg’s slow and long extension while he transfers his weight forward. The swing plane is most important. In addition he drops his hands at the start of the swing to avoid grounders. He said in the Majors they don’t pay you for ground balls.

A.J.Pollock’s swing.

  • In 2014, Pollock changed from a toe-touch hitter to a leg-kick hitter, although his leg kick is not as high as Josh Donaldson’s leg kick. Tony La Russa said Pollock’s legs have electricity, so maybe Pollock needs both legs on the ground to generate power.
  • Pollock said, "Some pitchers are coming down at 10 degrees, some are coming down less at 5 degrees, but most of the time it’s coming down to you." Although he was taught to chop down, he now hits differently. Pollock keeps his bat in the hitting zone and matches the plane of the pitcher, so that even if he is a little bit out in front of a pitch, he can "square the ball up" and hit it hard. His BABIP is above average for grounders, fly balls, and line drives.

Our player in the spotlight searched for answers to his hitting question and found what he needed to succeed. He said, "It’s easier to use all fields and to see pitches better." And he said, "I’m able to stay off close pitches." And he said, "Just trying to swing at good pitches, keep everything simple."

Second, he is consistent. In a 2015 interview with our player in the spotlight, 1) he said he worked on improving every part of his game, and 2) he said he works on being consistent in everything he does. Improvements are the obvious step to mastery. Following up with consistency is extraordinary.

Our player in the spotlight was called up on 16 August of this year. His first hit was two-run triple! Chip Hale said our player in the spotlight was "Just exactly as advertised by Phil Nevin." And "He really knows the game." His name is Mitch Haniger.

On 25 August, he was optioned back to AAA Reno because of the return of A.J. Pollock. Although I feel joy that Pollock is back from his injury, I am excited about Mitch Haniger playing for the Diamondbacks. He adds much needed outfield depth.

Because he quickly overcame adversity and he works on consistency in everything he does, Mitch Haniger is our player in the spotlight!