|Daulton Varsho - DH||Kyle Schwarber - LF|
|Josh Rojas - 3B||Rhys Hoskins - 1B|
|Ketel Marte - 2B||Bryce Harper - DH|
|Christian Walker - 1B||Nick Castellanos - RF|
|David Peralta - LF||Didi Gregorius - SS|
|Jake McCarthy - RF||Odubel Herrera - CF|
|Alek Thomas - CF||Alec Bohm - 3B|
|Geraldo Perdomo - SS||Bryson Stott - 2B|
|Jose Herrera - C||Garrett Stubbs - C|
|Zac Gallen - RHP||Kyle Gibson - RHP|
Yesterday was another comeback win for Arizona this year. They actually have more wins like that - it was their fifteenth comeback - than wins where they never trailed (13). That’s definitely more than usual; this year in the majors, 38% of games were ones where the winner came from behind, considerably lower than the Diamondbacks’ 54%. While it’s good to see the team having a degree of intestinal fortitude and being able to come back from a deficit, this does perhaps conceal a slightly worrying trend. Specifically, the fact that Arizona has been falling behind early. They have been outscored almost 2:1 over the first two innings, scoring 42 runs but conceding 83.
This reflects a curious pattern with the Diamondbacks’ starters, which we saw in action yesterday when Zach Davies allowed four hits to the very first four batters he faced in the game. Generally, pitchers have the advantage the first time they see a batter in a game, because scouting can only provide a hitter with so much information. Actually seeing what a pitcher does is the best education, and so the second and third times through the order, hitters tend to do better, as they get more familiar with the offerings of their opponent. Pitchers are also beginning to tire. The chart below shows this in action across all of major-league baseball.
Part of that is due to an increase in BABIP, but that’s only seven points between first and third time though (.288 vs. .295), and second time is actually lower (.292). This may also simply reflects balls being harder hit. Still, put simply, batters do about 18% better the third time they see a pitcher, compare to the first time. But now, here are the same figures for the Diamondbacks starting pitchers this season.
You can see the D-backs starters trend the complete opposite way. They get torched the first time through the opposing order, then settle down to the tune of being 136 OPS points better the second time, and improve by a further 26 points the third time. Part of the latter may be BABIP related: this measure drops sharply from .297 to .252, and then down to .242. But it’s odd seeing the K:BB ratio, which is BABIP independent, spike the way it does the second time through. Similarly, the home-run rate drops from one every 23.2 AB, to 29.7 and then 41.6 by the third time. I’m not sure what adjustment Arizona catchers are making in their game-calling: but maybe they should start off that way!