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Preview #88: Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Cincinnati Reds

This year, we’re not only allowing fewer home-runs at Chase, we’re doing a far better job of limiting the damage they cause.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Billy Hamilton - CF Daniel Descalso - LF
Zack Cozart - SS Chris Herrmann - C
Joey Votto - 1B Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Adam Duvall - LF Jake Lamb - 3B
Scooter Gennett - 3B Chris Owings - RF
Scott Schebler - RF Brandon Drury - 2B
Jose Peraza - 2B Ketel Marte - SS
Tucker Barnhart - C Rey Fuentes - CF
Luis Castillo - RHP Taijuan Walker - RHP

Last night’s victory was the 33rd for the Diamondbacks at Chase Field this year. Which may not seem significant, but it actually matches their tally of wins at home for ALL of the 2016 campaign. The turnaround in the team’s play in Phoenix has perhaps been the most striking aspect, and certainly one of the most significant improvements, of this season. Last year, we were outscored at home by more than a run per game, but now, we have been outscoring opponents by more than two runs. The pitching has been the key factor in turning things around: our ERA at Chase is more than two runs better than it was in 2016. Here’s a comparison of our performances on the mound:

Year   W-L   W-L%   ERA   WHIP  SO9  SO/W    BA   OBP   SLG   OPS BAbip
2016  33-48  .407  5.54  1.559  8.0  2.11  .287  .359  .477  .836  .336
2017  33-13  .717  3.48  1.198  9.5  3.08  .228  .296  .385  .681  .282

That’s a huge difference, but I am a bit concerned to what an extent it is heavily driven by BABIP. The 54 point drop there goes a long way to explaining the sharp descent in batting average, and I’m not certain we should be thinking this is due to better defense. However, our strikeout rate at home is up, and we’ve also been doing a lot better at keeping the ball inside the fences of Chase. In 2016, our home-run rate was 1.29 per nine innings; this year, it has dropped to 1.15. But equally important has been the nature of those home-runs.

For 67% of those 54 homers have been solo shots; 28% came with one man aboard; and only 6% have been with two or more on base. Last season, the respective figures were 56% solo shots; the same 28% with one man aboard; but a whopping 16% were game-destroyers that drove in three or four RBI. Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray have led the way in limiting the damage of long-balls at Chase. Both have allowed 10 home-runs at Chase, but in each case, those have been responsible for a total of only 12 RBI against us, 80% of them being solo round-trippers for Greinke and Ray. They seem to be pitching particularly carefully in those big situations with two or more on base.