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D-backs Preview #23: 4/27 vs. Padres

Anything less than a complete-game shutout and I’ll be very disappointed. :)

Arizona Diamondbacks v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

D-backs line-up

Today's Lineups

PADRES DIAMONDBACKS
Fernando Tatis - SS Pavin Smith - 1B
Trent Grisham - CF Kole Calhoun - RF
Manny Machado - 3B Asdrubal Cabrera - 3B
Eric Hosmer - 1B David Peralta - LF
Wil Myers - RF Carson Kelly - C
Jake Cronenworth - 2B Eduardo Escobar - 2B
Jurickson Profar - LF Nick Ahmed - SS
Victor Caratini - C Nick Heath - CF
Chris Paddack - RHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

The Diamondbacks’ playoff chances improved significantly as a result of this 10-game road-trip. Even as the team still sits fourth in the NL West, they are one game behind the Padres, currently possessing the second wild-card spot. Baseball Reference currently has the team at 14.7% chance of making the post-season, which is up more than ten percent on what it was a week ago. Going 5-1 over that time will do it, I guess! Fangraphs has not moved the needle quite as much, but from a low of 0.5% on April 9, even they have bumped the D-backs up to 2.7% this morning. They now project Arizona to reach 74 wins, while the average BR projection is 78.5 wins.

The West is clearly shaping up to be the toughest division. Arizona’s 11-11 record would be good enough for second in the East and tied for second in the Central. So far, the division as a whole is 16-10 against the East and 9-8 against the Central (mostly due to the D-backs having gone 5-1 versus the Reds!). They’re also 9-6 in interleague play, giving them a record overall of 34-24 outside of their own division. Up until the Rockies got punked 12-0 by the Giants yesterday, every team in the division had scored more runs than they had conceded, not something you see everyday. This makes the series against the Padres a real test for the D-backs. Hopefully Merrill Kelly will be up to the task tonight at Chase Field.

Torey Lovullo notes

  • Joakim Soria will throw in a game at the alternate site today, then do some pitcher’ fielding practice. It’s a big test for him.
  • Christian Walker took some swings yesterday, and good signs of turning a positive direction. He’ll be taking live batting practice off the coaches today.
  • Ketel Marte had a follow-up MRI, and it shows signs of healing. He’s currently “bat ready”, but the light running continues to be a challenge.
  • Tim Locastro got his stitches out and is going to start some gripping and strength exercises.
  • Chris Devenski has been back at Salt River, and is “back into baseball activities”. He’ll throw in a game at the alternate site today.
  • He doesn’t have any timelines, but feels that a pitcher returning first is probably most likely.
  • Lovullo was asked about Madison Bumgarner’s demeanor, and praised his consistent routine and approach, regardless of results. It seems to Torey that Bumgarner is having a lot of fun getting to know his new team-mates. He has not spoken to MLB about the no-hitter rules, but feels it is time to change some of the rules. A new category for things like a 7-inning no hitter, is “probably the best way to look at it.”
  • He was later asked about pitch counts in a situation like a no-hitter. Lovullo stressed he would never put a player’s career in jeopardy. That said, he would have had a very hard time taking Bumgarner out, regardless of the count, and joked the headlines would be “Starting pitcher bodyslams manager on mound” if he tried. Zac Gallen is getting an extra day’s rest for the Rockies series, with Bumgarner going on regular rotation and starting Friday.
  • Torey said they’ve talked about how to gameplan (drink!) against the Padres, who will be “a great challenge” in the upcoming series.
  • Arizona leads the league in defensive runs saved. He is very pleased about the improvement in defense over the road-trip, and believes there’s a strong correlation between that and the winning record. The D-backs’ goal it “to make the above-average plays look routine.” The team also works hard at defensive positioning.
  • No audio today, since it was just me frantically typing. :)