Alex Young got the start today for the Diamondbacks vs. the Mariners at Salt River Fields today. In relation to Young’s status as a starter vs. a reliever, Torey Lovullo was asked pre game how important is it to have a second lefty in the pen with the new minimum number of 3 batters per pitcher going into effect this year.
“We go back and forth on this particular discussion quite a bit. We want to bring the best guys to chase with us to help us win baseball games, and if it means one or two lefties we haven’t yet determined it. So how important is it ? That depends on who they are and what they’re going to offer us. It’s been explained to Alex that he’s here to compete for a starting rotation spot. He was very good for us last year, he won 7 baseball games and he deserves consideration to be one of our starters, if he’s not it’s been outlined to him that we’d also consider putting him in the bullpen. We aren’t making any decisions right now, we are going to let these guys compete. How important is it to get that second lefty in the bullpen ? I don’t know right now with the new normals, with the three batter minimum I feel like it’s going to be a little more valuable to have that second lefty, but I could be totally wrong”
The lefty started off well, needing just 12 pitches to retire the side in order in the 1st. However there was a lot of hard contact in the 2nd as Young allowed the “rare” reverse cycle, giving up a Homer, Triple, Double, and Single in that order. With two runs in he managed to limit the damage however, striking out the next two and getting a groundout.
However he walked the leadoff batter in the 3rd, which ended his day on 45 pitches. That runner came around to score as Riley Smith relieved and allowed a base hit, a wild pitch and a fielders choice. In all, it was a mixed outing for Young with a final line of 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1BB, 3 K, 1 HR
After the outing Young of course said he felt good, and was glad to continue his spring healthy. He felt he made some good pitches that got hit hard in the 2nd, except for the 2 Seamer to Kyle Lewis that caught too much of the plate and was hit for a homer.
Following up the earlier question to Torey about his role going forward, I asked if it were important for him to remain a starter, or if he’d be ok with a switch to the bullpen he said:
“I’ve told them before whatever role they need me in....I mean I like starting , relieving, I’ll help in any way possible. I like doing both, so whatever they need me
The D-backs offense got off to a slow start in this one. Mariners starter Yusei Kikuchi was firing 95-96 MPH fastballs, (up several MPH from last year per one Mariners scout and verified on Statcast). After going 3 up 3 down in the 1st, the Snakes managed two walks in the 2nd by David Peralta and and Travis Snider. But Christian Walker, Yasmany Tomas and Andy Young all struck out ending that threat. For you fantasy baseball players, Kikuchi might be a sleeper pick despite his 5+ ERA in his 32 starts last year.
In the 3rd Starling Marte hit a one out double, a line shot down the left field line and after Josh Rojas struck out, Eduardo Escobar lined a base hit to right, scoring Marte and making it 3-1.
Smith came out for a 2nd inning of work, and a combination of bad luck and command cost him a run as he gave up two singles, a wild pitch and a walk before getting out of the inning.
Hector Rondon worked a perfect 5th, getting two K’s. He’s looked pretty good so far this spring. Then the Dbacks offense got back on the board again in the bottom half of the frame. Singles by Andy Young and John Hicks and a walk to Josh Rojas loaded the bases. Eduardo Escobar tallied his 2nd RBI of the game with a sac fly to centerfield, making it 4-2
But Edwin Jackson could not hold the score there in his turn to pitch in the 6th , giving up back to back doubles to Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith to start the inning and then a one out single scored Smith to make it 6-2 Mariners.
In the bottom half of the inning Kevin Cron lead off with a K, swinging through a couple of pitches up and out over the outside part of the plate. Pavin Smith drew a walk, but Seth Beer hit into a 6-4-3 double play for a quick end to the inning.
With a full compliment of reserves in the game backing him up, lefty Joe Mantiply pitched to contact in the 7th and retired all three batters he faced. Bo Takahashi was impressive in his two innings of work retiring the side in order in both the 8th and the 9th and striking out 3. His fastball was sitting 92-93, topping out at 93.5, and he was locating his slider and curveball. He looked very sharp to my eyes, much more so than I remember. After the game Torey was equally impressed:
“It’s a spin rate fastball, I’m sure. That ball gets on guys....he locates it, and when he throw that secondary stuff behind it he’s very effective. I think he threw (29) pitches in two innings of work. He was getting it done, he was challenging hitters, which we love and finishing them off which we work hard on. He did a good job today”
The D-Backs reserves were unable to generate any offense in the 7th, 8th, or 9th with only Daulton Varsho reaching on a walk in the 7th. Kevin Cron struck out for the 2nd straight time in the 8th, again swinging through a slider and a fastball away before swinging over the top at a breaking pitch down and in. Perdomo also drew a walk in the 9th, but that was it.
In all the D-backs had just 4 hits and two runs and struck out 11 times. They’ve scored just 5 runs in their last three spring training games.
One notable thing in this game was the fact that Josh Rojas played short. He had three chances all of which he fielded cleanly. The first two were right at him , but on the second one he chose to back hand the ball instead of move his feet and get down on it. The last chance he ranged to his left in the hole and got off a quick throw.