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Diamondbacks Game Preview #62: 6/12 @ Phillies

Philadelphia have certainly made an effort for their new manager...

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS PHILLIES
Jordan Luplow - LF Kyle Schwarber - LF
Josh Rojas - 3B Rhys Hoskins - 1B
Ketel Marte - 2B Bryce Harper - DH
Christian Walker - 1B Nick Castellanos - RF
Pavin Smith - RF J.T. Realmuto - C
Carson Kelly - C Didi Gregorius - SS
Daulton Varsho - DH Alec Bohm - 3B
Alek Thomas - CF Bryson Stott - 2B
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Mickey Moniak - CF
Luke Weaver - RHP Ranger Suarez - LHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Reinstated RHP Luke Weaver from the 60-day injured list (right elbow inflammation).
  • Optioned RHP Edwin Uceta to Triple-A Reno following last night’s game.
  • Designated INF Drew Ellis for assignment.

Rob Thomson is probably wondering what all the fuss is about managing at the major-league level. For since replacing Joe Girardi as manager of the Phillies, Thomson is 8-0, with his team outscoring the opposition by a handy 58-19 margin. I don’t know what the record is for the longest winning streak is by a new manager, but this surely has to be close to it.* Not least because teams that fire the man in charge are typically not very good to be begin with. It does certainly seem to give the lie to the notion that firing the manager is always just a figurative gesture. For all told, the Phillies have won nine in a row, their best winning streak in over a decade, since July-August of 2011.

They’re now back above .500, somewhere they haven’t been since the fifth game of the season, when they were 3-2. They definitely have a chance to go higher, as their next 11 games, including today, are also against teams like the Diamondbacks with losing records. Admittedly, they still currently sit 8.5 games back of the Mets, and haven’t even managed to close a single game on the Braves since Thomson took over, because Atlanta has won TEN games in a row (and now occupy the second wild-card spot). But we’ve seen the threat that the Phillies line-up poses, especially in their “fun sized” ballpark, and they are now only two back of the third wild-card spot (currently an effective Giants/Brewers tie).

Meanwhile, the struggles of the Diamondbacks pitching staff continues. The bullpen now has a 6.34 ERA over 30.2 innings in June, and the rotation are 2-6 this month, with a 4.32 ERA. The latter figure is actually a bit of improvement on the May starters’ ERA (5.02), but the bullpen implosion means that the overall number for the pitching staff, 5.12, is the highest it’s been. While the shutouts - that’s now four in ten games this month - are an issue, I still tend to think this team will stand or fall, largely on the basis of what the pitching can or cannot deliver.

We’ll see what Kyle Nelson can do, as they adopt an opener for the series finale, and try to avoid the sweep. Looks like the plan is probably for Weaver to follow Nelson, and probably throw the bulk of the innings here.

[* I subsequently found out, according to sportsnet.ca, “He’s the first manager to win his first eight games since Joe Morgan did it for the Red Sox in 1988. He’s the first Phillies manager to start his career 8-0 since Pat Moran did the same in 1915.”]