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Preview #12: 8/5, Diamondbacks vs. Astros

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We’re getting into pretty bleak territory, as far as starts to the season go

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

ASTROS DIAMONDBACKS
George Springer - RF Ketel Marte - 2B
Jose Altuve - 2B Kole Calhoun - RF
Alex Bregman - 3B Starling Marte - CF
Yuli Gurriel - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Carlos Correa - SS Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Abraham Toro - DH David Peralta - LF
Kyle Tucker - LF Stephen Vogt - C
Myles Straw - CF Jon Jay - DH
Martin Maldonado - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Lance McCullers - RHP Robbie Ray - LHP

The pitching, perhaps surprisingly, has been an improvement over the same stretch of 2019. The D-backs come into tonight’s contest with an ERA of 5.59, which is rather better than the 6.00 figure they posted over the first eleven games last year. Over that time - and stop me if any of this sounds famliar - our well-paid ace (Zach Greinke) had a 7.16 ERA, while both Andrew Chafin and Luke Weaver sported 6.75 ERAs. However, drastically inflating the overall numbers were Matt Koch and John Ryan Murphy, who had combined for 9.1 innings of work, allowing... TWENTY-TWO earned runs. Can’t really blame Murphy, admittedly. Koch, by the way, is currently pitching for the Yakult Swallows over in Japan.

Still, 5.59 isn’t great, and combined with the record offensive futility, has got the Diamondbacks off to one of the worst starts in franchise history at 3-8. There have been two occasions where they won fewer games, going 2-9 in both 1998 and 2003, while 2014 matched this year’s record. But in terms of run differential after 11 games, Arizona’s current figure of -31 is ahead only of that inaugural season, where the D-backs were outscored by a total of 40 runs in their first eleven contests. They ended up being outscored by 147 runs over the full season, on their way to 97 losses in 1998. Anything like that would certainly be short of expectations this year.

If there’s reason to find hope in past history, it might come from those 2003 D-backs. As just mentioned, they started worse, winning only two of eleven, and opened their campaign with a not dissimilar run differential of -27. But they turned things around, fueled in particular by a 20-6 record in June, and ended the year above .500, with 84 wins. Even after 60 games, they had bounced back to 28-32, which is probably going to be not that far off a post-season spot in these weird times. So, it’s not impossible for the D-backs to turn it round. But the last team with such a bad run differential to post a winning record was the 2011 Red Sox, who started 2-9 and -32, but still reached 90 wins. It’s not common.

Pre-game audio from Torey Lovullo

  • He’s grateful not have had to have any games canceled or had any key players missing games. “We want to play, if we do the wrong thing that’s not going to be in the cards”
  • On the fairness of teams playing different number of games:: “Life throws you a little bit of a curveball sometimes and it’s not always fair”
  • If not sending a message last night, when is the time to send a message and how do you do that? “I do things internally, I challenge guys internally, I have meetings with these guys individually and as groups and they know what my expectations are” Reiterated he was not sending a message with substitutions as he had already communicated his messages before that.
  • Roster cutdowns are coming: Likely to be one pitcher and one hitter, and go with 14 of each Torey likes the flexibility a 28 man roster affords him. (What manager wouldn’t?)
  • Bumgarner’s velocity, and how to get it back? Working with pitching coach, but no magic pill. He thinks will be a progression and tick up gradually. Minimally concerned, feels if MB had made the throw and got the DP last night it would be a different conversation. No answer for why he was touching 91-92 during Spring Training and now just 88-89. He did not think that engaging in a long toss program over the summer, despite seldom having done so in the past, had anything to do with it. He did mention that MB might have lengthened his long toss distance on his own beyond the original program.
  • Corbin Martin threw 3 innings, and had a good outing, felt healthy afterwards.