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Diamondbacks Game Preview #46: 5/26 vs. Dodgers

Let's hope it goes better than last time!

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Miami Marlins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

Mookie Betts - RF Daulton Varsho - C
Freddie Freeman - 1B Josh Rojas - 3B
Trea Turner - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Will Smith - C Christian Walker - DH
Edwin Rios - DH David Peralta - LF
Justin Turner - 3B Pavin Smith - 1B
Cody Bellinger - CF Jake McCarthy - RF
Chris Taylor - LF Alek Thomas - CF
Gavin Lux - 2B Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Mitch White - RHP H. Castellanos - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Reinstated OF Cooper Hummel from the injured list.
  • Optioned INF Drew Ellis to Triple-A Reno following Tuesday night’s game.

There are currently three Diamondbacks tied for the National League lead in appearances for 2022. Ian Kennedy, Noe Ramirez and Joe Mantiply have all pitched in 21 games so far, putting each on pace for 76 appearances this year. That's by no means a team record, which belongs - and likely will stay belonged - to Oscar Villarreal, who pitched in a mind-boggling 86 games as a rookie for the 2003 D-backs. Though he was good (ERA+ 182), he is perhaps a cautionary tale. He was much less effective thereafter (ERA+ 101), pitched only a further 172 times, and was out of the majors entirely after July 2008.

More recently, we had Andrew Chafin, who appeared 77 times in both 2018 and 2019. The former also saw Archie Bradley work in 76 games. So while the current workload is obviously something to be aware of, it doesn't appear particularly excessive. Indeed, if you look at just the first 45 games, there have been plenty more frequently-used pitchers. Kennedy and friends don't even make the top twenty by appearances to this point in the season. It’s also worth noting that their workload seems relatively light. While I’d prefer to use batters faced or pitches thrown, that’s not easily available. However, by innings pitched, none of this year’s trio have even reached 20 IP. 48 Arizona relievers have thrown more innings through 45 games.

Another factor perhaps worth considering is the shortened spring training this year. That meant starters in the first month were not going so deep into games, thereby increasing the workload on the bullpen. In April this year, the average Diamondbacks’ starter faced 20.5 batters. In April 2021, the same figure was 22.3. Over the course of the month, that works out at about 40 more hitters seen by the bullpen. For May to date, the batters faced per start this season has bounced back to 22.1, virtually identical to the same figure last year (22.2). Due to the rotation’s sharply improved performance, the IP/start is actually better in 2022: 5.29 vs. 5.03. If sustained, that should help a bit, in terms of the bullpen workload going forward.

Pavin Smith audio

He talked about his off season workout prep, and the physical and mental grind last year playing in more games than he ever had before. Also confessed it’s considerably more fun to come to the ballpark when you are not losing 110 games!

Torey Lovullo audio

  • Josh Rojas back in the starting line-up and feeling very good. “We dodged a bullet.” He could have played Tuesday had the need arose.
  • Zach Davies threw a 31-pitch bullpen and felt very good. As we stand right now, he will make his next start on schedule, which will be Sunday.
  • Dynamic resulting from improved offense. “It’s a story of perseverance and trust, and hitters are coming out the end of it... I think it’s a simplified approach” and all the coaches are “rowing the boat the same way.” The aim is “a hard-line drive in the middle of the diamond, between zero and thirty degrees, and above 90 mph.” He also discussed his relationship with the hitting coaches.
  • On playing the Dodgers: “We’ve got to bring it for every pitch of every inning... We identified [from the LA series] some things we need to do better.” It’s important to stop the big inning before it happens.
  • Praised Daulton Varsho for getting his feet under him at catcher so quickly, and for being ready to do whatever was necessary to help the team. No discussion yet as to what might happen when Carson Kelly returns.
  • Caleb Smith keeps telling Torey by his outings that he still wants to be a starter. The improvement is due to Smith filling up the strike-zone. Going every day may give him a greater familiarity with things like release point.
  • The starting pitching anchors the way. “I don’t make demands, telling them “Be better or else.” It ebbs and flows over the course of the season.” Lovullo expressed concern again about leaning too much on certain relievers. He’s going to be careful in the middle months, so they aren’t gassed in August and September, and is pleased by the announcement today that they can carry 14 pitchers through June 19.
  • Torey is pleased with the fight his team has shown, but he’s simply focusing on the day’s game. He’s happy so far, but they’ve got to keep going.