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Series Preview #45 : D-backs vs Padres

Can the D-backs sweep a 2 game series?

Wil Myers plays third like nobody else
Wil Myers plays third like nobody else
Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Padres have two first basemen – so they moved one to third.

In January 2017, the Padres signed a long contract extension with Wil Myers. Although he had prior experience in the outfield, in 2016 and 2017 he played first base.

In February 2018, the Padres signed a long contract with free agent Eric Hosmer. He plays first base.

To make room for Hosmer, the Padres moved Myers back to the outfield. However, injuries happened – nerve irritation, oblique injury, bone bruise on his foot, and nose laceration. Myers was too fragile to play in the outfield.

In August, the Padres moved Myers to third base. His fielding is unconventional - he is the only third baseman in the Majors to have a ratio of forehand to backhand fielding of less than one. What makes a third baseman great instead of good? Perhaps speed and rhythm make the difference.

  • ”A third baseman does less thinking than anyone in the game—he doesn’t have time.” – John McGraw
  • ”I just whip the ball across my body toward second. You don’t have time to step and aim.” – Ken Boyer
  • ”Rhythm very important. Can’t be jerky, but me no waltz. I cha-cha-cha.” Vic Power

Will Wil Meyers stick at third base? I don’t know the answer, but it will be interesting to watch. “Myers’ early work at the position looks like nobody else currently playing third on a full-time basis.” – Dustin Palmateer

MLB’s top 100 prospects includes five Padre starting pitchers not named Joey Lucchesi: Yet Lucchesi is a big part of their future.

This season, the Padres starters rank last in the Majors with negative 9.3 wins above average. That ranking may have contributed to the many changes in the rotation. Until this series, only one of the five pitchers who started the season in the Padres rotation, remained in the rotation: rookie Lucchesi. In this series, Bryan Mitchell will rejoin the rotation, increasing that number to two.

Padres Rotation Changes This Season

First Five Games Added Later April May June July August September
First Five Games Added Later April May June July August September
Richard yes yes yes yes yes DL: surgery on both knees
Lucchesi yes yes/ hip-strain hip-strain / yes yes yes yes
Perdomo yes yes DL: shoulder muscle strain DL
Mitchell yes yes/DL: elbow impinged DL DL DL yes
Ross yes yes yes yes lost on waivers gone
Lauer yes yes yes yes DL: forearm strain yes
Erlin yes yes yes yes
Lyles yes yes lost on waivers gone
Strahm yes yes bullpen
Lockett yes yes AAA on 40-man
Nix yes yes
Kennedy yes yes
Data from Baseball Reference and Roster Resource

Joey Lucchesi is amazing because of his emphasis on routine and off-day preparations, which are keys to winning.

Clayton Kershaw is his favorite pitcher. Although I don’t know whether Lucchesi has adopted his own versions of what Kershaw does, Kershaw has two interesting game-day preparations:

  • Thirty minutes before game-time, Kershaw pitches a 34-pitch sequence – always in the same order.
  • Kershaw does a “wall drill” where he short-hops a baseball against the base of a wall.

How does Joey Lucchesi prepare on days he doesn’t pitch?

  • Dry work. Without a baseball, he does 20 deliveries from the windup and 20 deliveries from the stretch. He thinks about different pitches, different counts, and different situations.
  • Workout with shoulder tubes. Shoulder tubes are very flexible. A player holds the center of the tube, starts it oscillating, and then moves the tube as it oscillates. It looks fun.
  • Workout with weighted balls. I don’t know whether he uses under-weighted balls, over-weighted balls, or both.
  • Workout with resistance bands.

Who will pitch in this series?

As of Sunday morning, the D-backs had not announced their starters. It is possible that Matt Koch makes a spot start. On 25 August, pitching for AAA Reno, he allowed 1 earned run in 7 innings.

Monday. Bryan Mitchell (7.08 ERA, 4.3 SO/9, 6.5 BB/9) vs Zack Godley (4.42 ERA, 9.5 SO/9, 3.8 BB/9)

Bryan Mitchell started the season in the rotation. His last start in the Majors was on 3 May – he allowed 3 earned runs in 2.1 innings. Bryan’s last relief appearance in the Majors was 5 June – he allowed 5 earned runs in 2.2 innings. Nick Stevens wrote, “Before he went on the DL, Mitchell posted a near 15% walk rate, a 2.03 WHIP, and a 7.08 ERA. His touted curve ball fell flat,…”

After being on the DL nearly all of May, plus June, July, and August, he is back and he has a good chance to finish the season in the rotation.

Zack Godley leads the National League in hit batters – not as bad as it sounds because it’s a close race. And I’m confident he is working on throwing to the bases. Looking beyond those two weaknesses, August was great for Zack Godley. He controlled the zone with 33 strikeouts and 7 walks in 31.2 innings.

Almost exactly a year ago, Matt Kelly wrote, “Godley breathes intensity from head to toe, and he’s channeled that energy into a breakout year for Arizona.” His intensity hasn’t changed. Intensity with control is the best kind of player! Advantage D-backs!

Tuesday. Joey Lucchesi (3.59 ERA, 9.7 SO/9, 3.2 BB/9) vs Robbie Ray (4.55 ERA, 11.9 SO/9, 4.9 BB/9)

This game will be the fifth time this season that Lucchesi has started against the D-backs. In the previous 4 games, he has allowed a total of 16 earned runs in 18.2 innings. With happiness, I have reason to expect one run per inning that he pitches.

Will Lucchesi pitch differently? Jon Roegele wrote, “…there is some evidence that pitchers do in fact throw less fastballs the second time around.” This season, let’s see whether it applies to Lucchesi (spoiler – it does!).

64.1 % fastballs, 22 April vs D-backs

61.7 % fastballs, 6 July vs D-backs

63.0 % fastballs, 29 July vs D-backs

60.0% fastballs, 17 August vs D-backs

In his last game, Robbie Ray controlled the zone (recently my biggest concern about Ray). He struck out 9 while walking 2. Also, he allowed 1 earned run in 5.1 innings, earning his 4th highest game score this season. And his improvement was seen in more than stats.

  • Nick Piecoro wrote, “To see him on Thursday night was to see the Robbie Ray of old: pumping fastballs up to 97 mph, inducing ugly swings on breaking balls, exuding a general swagger on the mound at Dodger Stadium.”
  • Steven Burt wrote, “That seemed to spark a pitcher we haven’t seen in a while, with Ray attacking hitters and racking up the easy outs”.

Robbie Ray is back! Advantage D-backs!