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D-backs Game Preview, #11: 4/19 @ Nationals

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Bill Murray In ‘Groundhog Day’ Photo by Columbia Pictures/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Daulton Varsho - CF Cesar Hernandez - 2B
Ketel Marte - 2B Juan Soto - RF
David Peralta - LF Nelson Cruz - DH
Christian Walker - 1B Josh Bell - 1B
Pavin Smith - RF Lane Thomas - LF
Seth Beer - DH Maikel Franco - 3B
Carson Kelly - C Riley Adams - C
Yonny Hernandez - 3B Victor Robles - CF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Lucius Fox - SS
Tyler Gilbert - LHP Joan Adon - RHP

So, yeah. Two game previews, two gameday threads AND a game recap to be written up before 3 pm. Good job the boss is out of the office today. :) Actually, more a good thing that Mrs. SnakePit is starting work at 7:30 am these days. That means I am getting quite used to early mornings, and getting stuff knocked out before the sun has climbed high in the sky. The night-cap in the double-header sees no-hit hero from last season, Tyler Gilbert, return to the rotation. Perhaps it’ll be for one game only, but with the fifth spot apparently in a state of flux, a good performance might mean he gets to stick around. Though the schedule makes that tricky, in that the team still needs a sixth starter for Saturday.

But Gilbert will become the team’s seventh starter used in just the first eleven games of the season. I think this is the first year they’ve needed to use that many - despite having a pair of scheduled off-days in that time. Of course, the unexpected double-header is a factor in this. But so was the failure of Caleb Smith and the unprovoked attack on Zac Gallen by an electrical outlet box. It’s a reminder that starting pitching depth is something almost essential for any team. Last year, only 41 pitchers made even 30 starts. Three teams had three such players; eight had two. But nineteen only had one or none, the latter category including the Diamondbacks.

Last year, the top 150 pitchers by starts - so, five per team - combined for a total of 3,719 games, which is 124 per franchise or 24.8 per starter. This means that the average team in 2021 had to get 38 starts from outside their five most regular starters, effectively finding another starter and a half. And that’s discounting cases where a team’s “good” starter wasn’t able to make it into the top 150 due to injury. The D-backs had to find a lot more: their top five (Bumgarner, Kelly, Gallen and whichever two of Caleb Smith, Widener and Weaver you want - they all made 13 starts), combined for 102 starts, leaving a whopping SIXTY from elsewhere. That was certainly a factor in why they went 52-110.

Moving on. Elsewhere, there were a couple of moves announced by the team, albeit the first one not affecting the current active roster.

  • Claimed RHP Jacob Webb off waivers from the Braves and optioned to Triple-A Reno.
  • Designated OF Stuart Fairchild for assignment.

Webb - and before you ask, no relation - spent parts of the previous three seasons (2019-21) with the Braves. He posted a pretty decent 2.47 ERA across 78 relief appearances and 76.2 innings of work, with a K:BB ratio of 71:31. Seems like a decent pick-up, and is under team control through the end of 2025. Was a bit surprised to see Fairchild bumped off the roster. The team now literally does not have an active right-handed outfielder available, with the 40-man roster consisting of five left-handers, two switch-hitters (and one of those is Ketel Marte, who is probably an emergency outfielder) plus the injured Jordan Luplow.

And just in time for the second game, the D-backs get an additional fresh arm for the bullpen:

  • Recalled RHP Edwin Uceta (No. 66) from the Taxi Squad.
  • Optioned RHP Matt Peacock to the Triple-A Reno. He will remain with the team on the Taxi Squad.