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D-backs Preview #15: 4/17 @ Nationals

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Can Luke Weaver recapture the form of his last outing?

Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Line-up

When Luke Weaver took the mound in his last outing he faced a Cincinnati Reds team that was...well....Red Hot. Through 8 games they were averaging over 8 runs per game, and were batting .316/.388/.567

However utilizing just two pitches, his Four Seam Fastball and Changeup, Weaver dominated, taking a no hitter into the 7th inning. He ended up giving up just a single, a walk, and a HBP while striking out 8. The D-backs went on to win 7-0.

Speaking about the outing pitching coach Matt Herges said

“I was tearing up in the dugout........... I was overwhelmed with basically just thankfulness for him. He went out there with two pitches......he flat out executed. If you look at his heat map of that game it was beautiful. That night I sent it to him and said this is a thing of beauty. It was a big cluster of fastballs up in that left hand corner and a big cluster of changeups down in that down far right box and some under , which he was getting swings and misses on”

Here’s what that looks like, FB on top (70 pitches) , Changeup on bottom (23 pitches)

On more than one occasion I’ve brought up the question of whether or not Weaver should be converted to a late inning relief role, often asserting that his Fastball/Changeup combo is borderline elite. But the team has wisely chose to continue to try to keep him moving forward as a starting pitcher where he can generate the most value for the club. Indeed so far the team has gone into the 8th inning with a lead of 3 runs or less just 3 times in 13 games. If Weaver were being held back for those types of situations we simply wouldn’t see him much.

However I did ask Herges if he felt the two pitch mix was sustainable in the rotation over the long term:

“One of the best pitchers in the game last year had two, Dinelson Lamet. (FB/Slider). When Weaver commands that fastball he’s got big carry, when he puts that where he wants. And he’s throwing the changeup aggressively. I really don’t think he needs anything more than that. However it would be nice to have a third pitch that he can land that a hitter has to think about.............We’ll continue to develop the curveball and the cutter/slider (I call it a slider now because he can get depth on it) So we’ll keep working on that. But ultimately I think as coaches we have to continue to remind player what they do best, and those are the two things that he does best”

Weaver will need some better run support than he received yesterday. Since the 3rd inning Thursday night (a 16 inning stretch) the Diamondbacks have managed just 1 run on 5 hits. They’ll have a chance to do so against right hander Eric Fedde though who is definitely NOT Max Scherzer. Torey Lovullo has stacked his lineup with 5 left handed hitters plus switch hitter Eduardo Escobar. Fedde has a pretty equal career L/R split, but neither is good, allowing a .831 OPS against RHB and .834 OPS against LHB

Torey Lovullo notes

The Dbacks acquired outfielder Nick Heath from the Royals in exchange for pitcher Eduardo Herrera. To make room on the 40-man roster, pitcher Jeremy Beasley was designated for assignment. Heath is going through the Covid-19 Intake Protocols and once he clears he will be assigned to the major league roster and wear #9.

Heath is 27 years old, left handed, and got just 17 MLB PA this year before K.C. DFA’d him. He is primarily a centerfielder and Torey was asked if he has been brought in to give the team more coverage in CF with Ketel Marte out.

“I think so, I think those are the conversations we’ve had internally. There’s definitely a strategy for bringing him in here. It’s something that I have talked about and I’m sure the front office has been thinking long before I had any conversations”

Heath’s BB-REF page.

Ketel Marte went through the same routine as has been outlined in recent days. He is feeling good and eager to do more, but the medical staff is being cautious before allowing him to move on to next steps. Key phrase below, coupled with today’s trade news might indicate that Ketel is still going to be out a while

“Not much has changed, because I know it’s still very early there:”

Joakim Soria’s bullpen went well. He should be able to return very soon after he gets a chance to face live hitters, so stay tuned for that update.

David Peralta’s slow start: He mentioned that he has been hitting some balls hard but hitting into outs. The advanced metrics would appear to back that up. He has just a .194 BABIP and a .253 wOBA, but his Expected wOBA (based on quality of contact) is .435