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Preview #10: 8/2, Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers

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The D-backs’ start has been so bad... “How bad is it?” Well, let me tell you...

MLB: Exhibition-Arizona Diamondbacks at Los Angeles Dodgers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

DODGERS DIAMONDBACKS
Mookie Betts - RF Ketel Marte - 2B
Max Muncy - 1B Starling Marte - CF
Justin Turner - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Cody Bellinger - CF Eduardo Escobar - DH
Chris Taylor - SS Kole Calhoun - RF
A.J. Pollock - LF Carson Kelly - C
Joc Pederson - DH David Peralta - LF
Enrique Hernandez - 2B Ildemaro Vargas - 3B
Austin Barnes - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Clayton Kershaw - LHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

As mentioned on Twitter last night, the D-backs’ run differential stands at -22. That’s the worst in the majors. Arizona also hasn’t had a worse figure through the first nine games in sixteen years - the terrible, terrible 2004 team were at -27. This is mostly on the offense: the team is now collectively batting below the Uecker line, having hit just .199 to this point. That’s the worst in franchise history, and it’s not even close, being seventeen points under the next-lowest figure, the .216 put up in 2003. You won’t be surprised to hear their SLG is also dead-last at .280, a whopping forty-eight points below the next lowest figure for AZ. OPS? Dead-last there too, at .559. That’s just five points above Jeff Mathis’s career figure.

Admittedly, some of that isn’t our fault, as offense thus far has been sharply down. Even with the universal DH, the batting average across MLB is .233. That is nineteen points down on last year, and the lowest in baseball history, four points below the 1968 season - after which they lowered the pitching mound. Despite all the pre-season talk about pitchers not being ready, they seem to have been well ahead of hitters. However, teams have been more reliant on their bullpens, as you’d probably expect. The average starter has gone only 4.6 innings and 77 pitches; last year, the same figures were 4.9 innings and 86 pitches. We’ll see whether that trend continues.

But for the D-backs, a couple of players are closing in on the worst starts in franchise history. If we look at the first ten games of the season, with a minimum of 15 PA, Jake Lamb is currently tied with Quinton McCracken in 2003 for the lowest batting average, both men having gone 1-for-16. And Nick Ahmed’s OPS of .233 is second-worst, ahead only of McCracken’s .220, though Ahmed has had considerably more PA (31 vs. 19). He is in the line-up today, but with left-hander Clayton Kershaw starting for Los Angeles, Lamb is unsurprisingly on the bench. He’ll need a pinch-out if he’s to claim sole possession of the worst batting average crown...

Pre-game audio from Torey Lovullo

  • Delay to getting the lineup out was due to wanting to discuss with Starling Marte his move up to 2nd in the order today and putting Walker in the 3rd spot
  • He put two lefties in the lineup today in part because he anticipates a 65 pitch limit for Kershaw today.
  • Vargas played first-base last night instead of Walker as part of the continuing plan from medical team to protect walker’s groin injury. He insists that Walker has not had any set backs and is feeling great.
  • He believes Walker’s success against Kershaw is “real” (i.e. not a fluke)
  • There was a player’s only meeting a couple of days ago, but no word what the topic was or what was said.
  • I asked him about Weaver’s mechanics and if anything has changed that might have resulted in the flatness and lack of movement to his cutter, and also why the game plan wasn’t adjusted in game when it was obvious that pitch wasn’t working.

He acknowledged the cutter was flat and that Luke himself of course wasn’t satisfied. He feels that Weaver’s mechanics are sound and able to repeat his delivery. Lovullo cited “lack of conviction and finish” with those pitches. He seemed to intimate that it was more mental than physical and not finding a way to get it done when you don’t have all your pitches.