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Diamondbacks Game Preview #51: 5/31 vs. Braves

The team has a chance to do something today, they haven’t managed since 2017.

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Ronald Acuna - RF Daulton Varsho - C
Dansby Swanson - SS Josh Rojas - 3B
Marcell Ozuna - DH Pavin Smith - RF
Austin Riley - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Matt Olson - 1B David Peralta - LF
Travis d'Arnaud - C Cooper Hummel - DH
Ozzie Albies - 2B Alek Thomas - CF
Adam Duvall - LF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Michael Harris - CF Jake Hager - 2B
Charlie Morton - RHP H. Castellanos - RHP

The month of May has not exactly been merry for the Diamondbacks recently. Only once since 2014 have they managed to be above .500 for the month, that coming in 2017, when they were 17-11 in May. From 2018-21 (obviously excluding 2020 when there was no May baseball), their combined record there is 24-60, a feeble .286 W%. This culminated, of course, in last year’s fiasco were they were 5-24, the worst win percentage by any National League team in May for over 85 years; the 1935 Boston Braves went 4-20. However, since the franchise came into existence it hasn’t been particularly bad. Here’s the team’s winning percentage for each month of the season:

  • March/April: .512
  • August: .498
  • May: .482
  • June: .478
  • July: .474
  • Sep/Oct: .471

They come into the final game of May this year, with their record sitting at 14-14, so all is to play for. That’s despite being outscored by thirteen runs this month, 127-140. This is mostly due to the results in blow-out games. Just one of those fourteen wins was by more than four runs - the 9-3 defeat of the Marlins on May 10th, But that positive run differential was more than negated the following day, when they lost 3-11 to Miami, and the D-backs also had a pair of blow-out losses to Los Angeles on May 17th (3-12) and 26th (1-14). Short of an extremely blow-out victory tonight, they could win the month with a negative differential.

That would make this season the reverse of the 2019 campaign, where the D-backs went 11-17 in May, despite outscoring their opponents by 19 runs (145-126). The scenario in that season was basically the reverse of this year: six blow-out wins, compared to one blow-out loss. However, the 2019 Diamondbacks were also 4-9 in games decided by one run, including four such defeats as the finished the month off by losing five in a row. This year, the D-backs started off May by winning the first five one-run games, before losing five of the next six, so are almost even with a 6-5 record in close contests. Still, that’s a huge upgrade on last May, where Arizona didn’t win a single one-run game, going 0-7 in them.

Joe Mather audio

Hitting Coach Joe Mather Pre Game Talk

Ketel Marte Switch Hitting Swing Maintenance, characteristics and switch hitting in general:

  • He takes a lot more practice swings and works more on the left side because the right side is his natural side and because he sees more right handed pitching
  • He’s very feel oriented, not an overthinker.
  • He is more of a free swinger right-handed because he can get to anything, left-handed he is a bit more stubborn to get what he wants.
  • His right-hand swing is elite, Mather would it put it up there with anyone’s righty swing. (He mentioned Trout) His left-hand swing is good too.
  • He’s got a more aggressive slugger mentality batting right-handed, left-handed his swing is more slash and poke.
  • Sometimes when he sees a lot of lefties and gets a lot of Right-handed at bats it’s easier to carry over the aggressiveness to his left-handed swing

Geraldo Perdomo more loud contact lately

He’s been working hard. They’ve brought a lot of different ideas to him. He’s been up for every single one. Today he did high end velo work, seeing pitches 100 MPH from 50 feet away.

His strength is lower half of the zone, but now he’s hitting pitches up in the zone as well.

Bunting for Base Hit to beat the shift seems lacking. Is practicing that against high velo something that would help?

  • Doing it off a machine considerably different than doing in a game, especially if you’re not comfortable making that move and putting your body right in there.
  • College players more likely to have better bunting skills as it’s more a part of their game.
  • It’s just not a natural thing for a lot of high school and international players. They’ve come up in an era where 5 years prior to this nobody was talking about it, they were talking about the opposite (i.e. moving away from bunting). The game took that skill set away from them unfortunately.
  • They work on it, but it sounded like not very often. There is value in it, and coming up with the Cardinals it was ingrained in him. He acknowledged with the shift going away next year it’s likely to be emphasized even less.

Beating the Shift in general

“If it’s not something you grew up learning and thinking about, it’s tough to do, especially at this level”

Pavin Smith has seemingly had to sacrifice contact and OBP skills to gain power. How close is he to being able to put the two together?

“I don’t think he’s far. He started working on a few different things in Chicago. (see Nick Piecoro’s article) right before his pinch hit homer. It’s a little bit more aggressive move. I don’t know if you can tell on TV or not. It’s a move that’s allowing him to drive the ball more. His feedback is that he’s seeing the ball better, he’s seeing off speed pitches better. I think with that combination it’s coming sooner rather than later.”

He’s seeing more pitches in general according to Mather. I’ll have to look that up later ;)