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Preview #32: 8/26, Diamondbacks vs. Rockies

Does the losing streak “matter”?

Arizona Diamondback v Los Angeles Dodgers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Raimel Tapia - LF Kole Calhoun - RF
Trevor Story - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Nolan Arenado - 3B Starling Marte - CF
Charlie Blackmon - RF David Peralta - LF
Matt Kemp - DH Christian Walker - DH
Garrett Hampson - CF Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Josh Fuentes - 1B Nick Ahmed - SS
Brendan Rodgers - 2B Stephen Vogt - C
Drew Butera - C Jake Lamb - 1B
Jon Gray - RHP Robbie Ray - LHP

There is a strong sense of “What have you done for me lately?” that’s a natural part of fandom. The Diamondbacks have been close to .500 over the past couple of weeks, having gone 6-7 over the last thirteen games. But does any fan really feel that way? Right now, there’s next to no confidence that this team will make the playoffs, even though they currently sit just two games out of a post-season spot, with 29 left to play. But as a thought experiment, contrast how would you feel if:

  • The D-backs were riding a six-game winning streak, bouncing back after having lost the previous seven.
  • The D-backs had strictly alternated losses and victories over the past two weeks, avoiding any losing or winning streaks.

Either of whose would have led to the same 6-7 mark over the time in question. But they would likely lead to very different mindsets from a fan perspective. Recency bias is a very real thing.

It doesn’t just affect fans. While not specifically looking at baseball, there was a study done in regard to MVP voting in the NBA. It concluded, “Performance towards the end of the season also appears to have a strong effect” on how players were rated. The truth is, the Diamondbacks are not as bad as the team that has gone 0-7 in the past week. Nor they as good as the team which went 6-0 before that. The reality is somewhere near the middle: at the risk of using a particularly hated and banal cliche, “They are who we thought they were.” For a true .500 team has almost a 50/50 chance (47.3%, to be exact) of flukeing into a record outside the 14-17 win range through 31 games, as the D-backs have done.

There is some discussion over whether tonight’s game will be played. The NBA has already canceled its intended slate of games, to protest the police shooting in Wisconsin, and the Brewers will also not be playing. At the time of writing (about 4 pm), no decision has yet been made concerning the other games in the MLB, but it does seem to be a topic teams are discussing. We’ll see what happens in the next hour or so, I imagine. The lack of crowds probably makes this kind of thing a lot easier than it would have to be, if fans had to be taken into account.

Pre-game audio from Torey Lovullo

  • Torey supports the Brewers and the NBA teams in their decision not to play tonight due to the terrible situation in Wisconsin. “They have a fantastic reason and I fully support their reasoning for postponing and stepping out of their fame situation tonight”. The D-backs have not had any talks of doing anything similar.
  • Merrill Kelly had a Catheter put in place to break up a blood clot and it’s completely dissolved. While Torey would not say it definitively he said it was unlikely Kelly would return this year. However, Mike Hazen indicated to the beat reporters that Merrill is out for the year.
  • Rotation plans have not been solidified yet. Perhaps we will know tonight or tomorrow. Madison Bumgarner threw his bullpen and is being evaluated now.