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Diamondbacks Game Preview #41: 5/20 @ Cubs

Most D-backs games have been decided by the end of the sixth inning.

Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Daulton Varsho - DH Rafael Ortega - RF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Willson Contreras - C
Josh Rojas - 3B Ian Happ - LF
Christian Walker - 1B Frank Schwindel - DH
David Peralta - LF Alfonso Rivas - 1B
Jake McCarthy - RF Patrick Wisdom - 3B
Alek Thomas - CF Jonathan Villar - 2B
Yonny Hernandez - 2B Christopher Morel - CF
Grayson Greiner - C Ildemaro Vargas - SS
H. Castellanos - RHP Kyle Hendricks - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled OF Jake McCarthy (No. 30) from the Taxi Squad.
  • Optioned RHP Jacob Webb to Triple-A Reno following last night’s game and will remain on the Taxi Squad.

And right into the starting line-up goes Jake, playing RF today in Chicago. Let’s see if McCarthy’s second spell with the team proves more productive than his first, where he went 3-for-25 with 12 strikeouts. He has been ripping the cover off the ball down in Reno, but the usual counterpoint applies: it’s Reno. However, with Pavin Smith’s recent slump, the bar for McCarthy to be better is likely not all that high.

One of the quirks about the four-game sweep just suffered by the Diamondbacks in Los Angeles, was that Arizona led every game - even the blowout loss which ended with a Dodgers' position player pitching:

  • May 16: 2-0 up, middle 5
  • May 17 (day): 3-0 up, middle 4
  • May 17 (night): 2-0 up, middle 1
  • May 18: 2-1 up, middle 3

That has been quite common this year. In almost half of the D-backs' losses so far in 2022 (10 of the 21), the team held a lead at some point in the game. That's a sharp increase over last season, when Arizona blew a leas in barely one-third of their defeats (37 of 110). However, it may not necessarily be a bad thing. The 2021 Diamondbacks had a habit of falling behind early, being out scored almost two to one in the first frame (129‐62). This obviously makes it harder to fulfill the "blown lead" criteria. In 2022, while still being outscored in the first, Arizona is on pace to concede only 80 runs in the first, one-third fewer than they did during 2021.

This means it’s more likely to be tied at the end of the first. So far, the D-backs have trailed in 11 of 40 at that point, compared to 54 of 162 in 2021. Last year’s team were also not very good at coming back. They won only 20.4% of the time when they were behind at the end of the first, well below the MLB average for 2021 of 30.3%. This year, we are still very much in small sample size, but Arizona are 4-7 in the contests where they trailed after one. However, there’s still work to do in the second half of games. Thus far, being behind after four innings in 2022 has basically been a death knell for the team. The Diamondbacks have just one win in a game where they were in that position.

On the other hand, they have been very good at protecting late leads. Despite the struggles of Mark Melancon, Arizona are a perfect 14-0 when leading after seven innings, and almost as good (14-1) when ahead after six. Indeed, it’s not much of a stretch to say that so far, whoever had a lead in Arizona’s games at the end of the sixth will go on to win. That has been the case in 29 of the 31 played to date (the other nine were tied: Arizona is 4-5 there). So if you have something better to do and want to skip the final third, odds are that you probably are not going to miss much...