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D-backs Game Preview, #14: 4/22 vs. Mets

Back at Chase for the start of a potentially tough home-stand, but with a reinforcement off the IL.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Seattle Mariners Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

METS DIAMONDBACKS
Brandon Nimmo - CF Cooper Hummel - LF
Starling Marte - RF Ketel Marte - 2B
Francisco Lindor - SS Matt Davidson - 3B
Pete Alonso - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Seth Beer - DH
Robinson Cano - DH Nick Ahmed - SS
Mark Canha - LF Pavin Smith - RF
Jeff McNeil - 2B Daulton Varsho - CF
James McCann - C Jose Herrera - C
David Peterson - LHP Zac Gallen - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Reinstated INF Nick Ahmed (right shoulder inflammation) from the 10-day injured list.
  • Following yesterday’s game, optioned INF Yonny Hernandez to Triple-A Reno.

And right back into the startling line-up goes Ahmed. It’ll be nice to have Nick’s bat back in the line-up. Yeah, that’s a sentence I never thought I’d be writing! But in his absence, the Arizona shortstops have batted just .118. Plenty of walks, which get the on-base percentage up to a respectable .326. But no power, with the slugging percentage 91 points lower. All told, an OPS of .561. Even the 2021 version of Ahmed would be an improvement with his .619 OPS. The career version (.671) would feel like Mike Trout in comparison to what we’ve got from the position so far.

The series against the Mets didn’t go very well for the D-backs. They dropped two of three, and were probably lucky to do so, being outscored 17-6 over the series. Arizona squeaked out a 3-2 win in the middle game, sandwiched between a pair of blowout losses (10-3 and 5-0). But our offense is much better now. Well, at least, they are no longer the worst in the National League this year: that dubious honor now belongs to the Cincinnati Reds, whose OPS is 66 points below Arizona’s (.524 vs. .590). We now have our sights set on the team we just left, the Nationals, who currently sit 22 points above the D-backs, at .612. However, Arizona no longer has the best walk-rate, being just a point down on Seattle’s 12.2%.

However, there’s no doubt that the team ERA has been much improved on last year. Through the same point (13 games), here’s a comparison of the numbers:
2021: 117 IP 123 H, 74 R, 66 ER, 45 BB, 109 SO, 19 HR, 5.08 ERA
2022: 114 IP, 95 H, 53 R, 42 ER, 53 BB, 85 SO, 11 HR, 3.32 ERA
The bad news is the peripherals look out of whack. The fielding-independent ERA, based on walks, strikeouts and home-runs, is more than a run higher at 4.34, which suggest some sharp regression in the team’s future. For there have been too many balls in play: so far, the defense has been converting them into outs at an above average clip. Their defensive efficiency is 72.0%, 8th-best in the majors, and sharply up on last year’s 68.5%, ranked 26th.

The main beneficiary has been Madison Bumgarner, whose ERA of 1.38 is less than one-third of his 4.98 FIP. To be Captain Obvious for a moment, pitchers who walk more people than they strike out (MadBum’s K:BB being 9:10) do not typically enjoy sub-two ERAs. Obviously, tonight’s starter Zac Gallen is in the same category, in that his 0.00 ERA is unlikely to be sustainable. Though with just four innings of work so far, it’s still a bit too early to tell. I’d settle for his 2.80 FIP though, if that’s what he ends up regressing to. Tonight, I’m just hoping for some more length from Gallen. He threw 66 pitches in his first outing, so I’d expect low 80s this time, with no particular limits in his next start.

TOREY LOVULLO NOTES

Humberto Castellanos was confirmed as the Saturday Starter. Torey would not say he’s a permanent part of the rotation.

Starters getting stretched out: “We feel they’re through that transition phase where the starters are now built up to 85-95 pitches. Some are close to 100. I don’t really like to go over that 100 pitch limit. I think we’ve done a good job of that here. “

Zac Gallen target pitch count today is 80-85 pitches but it will depend on up downs and if there are any long high stress innings.

Nick Ahmed was built up to 42-45 live AB’s. Torey’s vote was for Ahmed to play a minor league rehab but he lost that vote. Nick will not play every day to start, Torey will be mindful of his workload

“I obviously have a seat at the table and I gave my input , but I think Nicky let us know that he was ready to go. And we trust him.”........”He was pounding the table, we listened to what he said”

[Jack Editorial] Sounds like Ahmed insisted to not play the minor league rehab game. Obviously the Manager is not in a position to impose his will over this situation. It’s a group effort perhaps, but it sounds like Ahmed had the largest vote. How that plays out in the clubhouse and when Torey wants to give him days off remains to be seen, but this seems like a potential clubhouse issue to me. Also, considering how compromised Nick was last year playing through injury, I’m not so sure where all this trust comes from ??

Geraldo Perdomo will get reps at 3b and 2b and play SS on days Ahmed needs to rest. Perdomo has never played 3b before, but Torey is confident he can do it. Torey believes the transition from SS to 3b is one of the least difficult. He should be able to get enough reps and at bats to justify keeping him up in the big leagues.

Jordan Luplow return still TBD but it sounds sounds like a week away. He’s been taking live AB’s and playing in 5 inning games. Torey restated his reasons for why he is in favor of a rehab assignment. (Routine a big part of it)

Josh Rojas will take live AB’s off live pitching Wednesday and will get into games after that.

Luke Weaver played catch out to 60 feet and will do so again tomorrow.

Impending Roster Crunch and player competition for spots: Roster return to 26 players on May 1st and injured players Luplow and Rojas will be returning over the next couple of weeks.

“It’s a different vibe this year. You gotta perform or else there is going to be someone else that’s chomping on your heels to take your job..... the players feel that they sense that, they see there are players waiting in the wings.

I don’t mind competition. Last year I think we lacked that. I think guys were very comfortable here. And I have no problem with what’s going on here right now.”

Torey Lovullo audio