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Diamondbacks Game Preview #42: 5/21 @ Cubs

A quarter of the way through season, let's look at some 'on pace' numbers.

MLB: MAY 16 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS CUBS
Jordan Luplow - DH Willson Contreras - DH
Josh Rojas - 3B Jonathan Villar - 3B
Ketel Marte - 2B Seiya Suzuki - RF
Christian Walker - 1B Yan Gomes - C
Jake McCarthy - RF Frank Schwindel - 1B
Daulton Varsho - C Patrick Wisdom - LF
David Peralta - LF Christopher Morel - CF
Alek Thomas - CF Ildemaro Vargas - 2B
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Andrelton Simmons - SS
M. Bumgarner - LHP Justin Steele - LHP

With a 162-game campaign, there is no exact quarter point in terms of the baseball season. But we're pretty much there right now. So let's extrapolate based on some of the more striking numbers so far, and see how plausible it is that they will be sustained the rest of the way. [Which reminds me, I must do an update on Place Your Bets. Probably at the one-third point in the season, in a couple of weeks]

Christian Walker: 40 home-runs

Walker has already matched his season tally from 2021, when he played 115 games, and is on pace to become the first D-back with 40 home-runs since Mark Reynolds (44) in 2009. However, there have been plenty of times Arizona players have gotten off to fast start, only to cool down. Walker is the 18th D-back to have 10 homers through this point. But only two went on to reach 40 for the year. In particular, Christian probably needs more hits. Right now, more than 1/3 of his hits are homers. While it's possible to sustain that [J.D. Martinez in his famous 2017 season had 45 HR on 131 hits], it's not easy. Only three men ‐ Joey Gallo twice + Adam Dunn - have hit 40 while batting < .220. Walker currently sits at .209.

Mark Melancon: 0-20 record

Thus has been powered by his stark split in save/non-save situations. Over Melancon's nine save opportunities, he has a 3 38 ERA. Over seven non-save appearances, his ERA is 13.50. The latter have lead to four of his five losses, all coming after he entered with the score tied. No other reliever in team history has had 5 L's after 41 games. Only one NL reliever since 2004 matches Mark: Raisel Iglesias, closer of the 2019 Reds. He didn't lose twenty. However, he did end up 3-12, along with 34 saves. If Melancon remains the D-backs' closer (and that depends on both health and performance), I expect more pain. Though not at the twenty-game level, Mark might have a shot at the all-time record for relief losses in a season. That's 12, shared by Iglesias and Luis Ayala on the 2004 Expos.

Arizona Diamondbacks: 79 wins

The year has certainly started off better than expected. Can the team sustain what would be a 27-game improvement on their record last season? There is reason for both concern and optimism. The half-empty crowd could look at the team's run differential of -22, which converts to a Pythagorean pace of only seventy wins. Arizona has been overperforming in one-run games, where they are 8-6, and not in blowouts (2-7 in games decided by 5+ runs). On the other hand, some measures say the Diamondbacks have had the toughest schedule in the league with an average W% of .525 for their opponents. But the bad news is, it won't get much easier. We still, for example, have to play 15 against the Padres, and haven't even seen the Giants yet. But not having the lowest OBP in the league (.292) would help going forward.