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Series Preview #51: Diamondbacks vs Padres

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Beef and Matt Koch
Matt Koch’s first save in the Majors
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Diamondbacks vs Padres

Last series of the season for the Diamondbacks. I appreciate the dedication and hard work of Jim McLennan, who is the face of the AZ Snake Pit. Thank you Jim for giving me an opportunity to write! My second season was awesome and filled with joy. I was thrilled to participate in round-table discussions with the very talented snake-pit writers. Thank you fellow snake-pitters, for reading and commenting! I strove to give you thought provoking and insightful articles. And I hope you enjoyed reading “Player in the Spotlight,” as much as I enjoyed writing it. God willing, I shall enthusiastically wield my pen next season.

I feel optimistic for 2017! Diamondbacks have returning stars like Goldy, Greinke, Lamb, Pollock, Ray, and Segura. And I am confident new stars will emerge, like Haniger, Herrmann, and even Tomas(as a slightly above-average defender and a plus power-hitter)! And several pitchers could find the last piece of the puzzle and develop into All-Stars. If everything comes together, this team could easily make the post-season!

For this series, the three Padres’ starting pitchers were acquired by the Padres between June and August as free agents or on waivers. The three Diamondbacks’ starting pitchers have rookie status. Therefore, this series is a battle of three one-more-chance pitchers against three rookies. Let’s look at the pitching matchups.

Pitching Matchups

Friday. Edwin Jackson (5.75 ERA, 5.6 IP/GS as a Padres starter) vs Braden Shipley (4.71 ERA, 5.7 IP/GS as a starter).

In June, after being released by the Marlins, Edwin Jackson signed with the Padres. He has started 12 games for the Padres. In his best six games, he has allowed an average of 1.33 runs. In his worst six games, he has allowed an average of 5.83 runs. He is not consistently good or bad.

Braden Shipley has allowed at least one homerun in 7 of his 10 starts. Let’s briefly talk about his pitches.

  • Four-seam fastballs are 42% of his pitches. His fastball has essentially average velocity. It generates fewer whiffs per swing than other pitchers’ fastballs.
  • Changeup is his weakest pitch. This season, for every 48 changeups he has allowed a homerun. The batting average against his changeup is .333.
  • Sinker. With two strikes against the batter, his sinker is weaker than his changeup. The two homeruns in 25 pitches and the .556 batting average tell that story well enough.
  • Curve is perhaps his best pitch. It accounts for 26 of his strikeouts with only 1 walk. It results in many more groundballs than other pitchers’ curves. The batting average against his curve is .222.

Saturday. Clayton Richard (1.875 ERA, 6.0 IP/GS as a Padres starter) vs Archie Bradley (5.15 ERA, 5.4 IP/GS this season as a starter).

In August, after being released by the Cubs, Clayton Richard signed with the Padres. He has started in eight games for the Padres with an ERA of 1.875. Padres Manager Andy Green said, “Command maybe the first time wavered a little bit. … After that, he really locked in. The command’s there, the sink’s there, the location’s there. He’s just making pitches on a consistent basis.”

Archie Bradley started 8 games last season and 25 games so far this season. His four-seam fastball has essentially average velocity. Twenty four percent of his pitches were curveballs, which is perhaps his best pitch. With the curve, his ratio of strikeouts to walks is 6.7. His curve generates an extreme number of groundballs compared to other pitchers' curves. The batting average against his curve is .215.

Sunday. Paul Clemens (4.12 ERA, 4.7 IP/GS as a Padres Starter) vs Matt Koch(3.60 ERA, 5.0 IP/GS as starter in 1 game).

In June, Paul Clemens was selected off waivers from the Marlins. Paul Clemens relies mostly on his 93 mph fastball (66%) and 75 mph curve (23%). The batting average against his fastball is .330 and curve is .137. The slowness of his curve does not impede its effectiveness.

Matt Koch made his Major League debut on 9 September as a relief pitcher. As a reliever he allowed 1 earned run in 7 innings pitched. His first start was against the Nationals. He pitched 5 scoreless innings. In the sixth inning he allowed 2 baserunners, who later scored. I predict we will win this game and end the season with sparkle that foreshadows next season.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
First Pitch by Diana Taurasi
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Player in the Spotlight

Have you ever thought about the baseball experience of Shelby Miller? How much pressure does he feel? How does he keep grounded in reality on his good days? How does a “bad day” feel? Do you wonder how he deals with how he got here, relationships with team members, coaches, management, and fans? The experiences of our player in the spotlight may provide insights that would help us understand Shelby Miller.

Because they are often overcoming a minor injury, athletes are rarely at 100%. Our player in the spotlight said, “I’m aching in places I’ve never ached before.” Does that quote describe the physical aspects and the mental aspects of playing baseball in the Majors?

Ken Rosenthal said that while our player in the spotlight is not a power arm, topping out in the high 80s, nevertheless has an arsenal of pitches including a nasty screwball. Apparently, a Robbie Ray fastball is a mountain too far. Deception and pitch control are very important when you rely on your off-speed pitches.

Our player in the spotlight’s best advice was, “You can’t aim your pitches if you’re aiming to please everyone.” That truth took me a long time to learn.

Our player in the spotlight does not shy away from drama in the clubhouse. And yet, the Padres are better for it – with a positive publicity boost.

Our player in the spotlight lives in the reality of the future as much as the fantasy of the present. Her name is Ginny Baker. She is a character in the show Pitch. The show was approved by MLB, which allows the producers access to stadiums and authentic uniforms and equipment. A female pitcher in the Majors will happen. I’m confident she will face many of the struggles depicted in Pitch. I am less confident that she will be as beautiful as Kylie Bunbury, who plays the character Ginny Baker. Nevertheless, that would be a welcome serendipity. The pilot show gave me an increased appreciation for nectarines and unexpected paths to success. Because the future is full of compelling wonders, Ginny Baker is our player in the spotlight!

Kylie Bunbury aka Ginny Baker
Kylie Bunbury aka Ginny Baker
Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images