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Diamondbacks Game Preview #64: 6/14 vs. Reds

Where does last night’s performance by Jerry Meals rank in terms of bad umpiring in D-backs games?

Cincinnati Reds v Cleveland Guardians Photo by Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

REDS DIAMONDBACKS
Jonathan India - 2B Daulton Varsho - RF
Brandon Drury - 3B Josh Rojas - 3B
Tommy Pham - LF Ketel Marte - 2B
Joey Votto - 1B Christian Walker - DH
Kyle Farmer - SS David Peralta - LF
Nick Senzel - CF Pavin Smith - 1B
Mike Moustakas - DH Carson Kelly - C
Albert Almora - RF Alek Thomas - CF
Aramis Garcia - C Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Tyler Mahle - RHP Zach Davies - RHP

I haven’t watched many D-backs games this year, but one of the things that stood out for me was the terrible performance of home-plate umpire Jerry Meals. For a man in his 25th season as a major-league umpire, his strike zone seemed awful, as documented in my recap. This morning analysis from Ump Scorecards seems to back it up. If you’re not familiar with them, they grade every umpire based on accuracy - how many calls conform to the rule-book - and consistency. how pitches fare in regard to a zone defined by actual called strikes. Meals ended up below average in both categories. The best thing which can be said for him is that he called the game equally poorly for both sides. Unbiased incompetence! Yay!

However. at 92% accurate and 93% consistent, it turns out to have been far from the worst we have endured in 2022. It was more or less in line with Meals’s below-average performances this season, where he has averaged 92.9% for both categories this year. If we use the average of accuracy and consistency as an overall score, the worst umpire Arizona have seen this year was Rob Drake, in the game against the Mets at Chase Field on April 22. He scored a mere 88.9% for accuracy and 89.3% for consistency, The only other umpire to average below 90% was Nick Lentz the previous day, who came in at 90.2% and 89.5%. The best? Lance Barksdale on May 15 against the Cubs, scoring 95.7% and 96.5%.

But here’s something which truly surprised me. According to the overall Ump Scorecard rankings, no team has been helped more by missed calls this season than the Diamondbacks. 68.2% of them have been in a way that helped Arizona, e.g. strikes called balls when they’re at the plate, vice versa when they’re pitching, so we’ve basically benefited by two calls, for every one which has hurt us. I’ll be honest: it doesn’t feel that way. But it must be admitted, the calls which go against your team e.g. the two terrible ones to Josh Rojas in the ninth inning last night, are likely going to stick in the mind longer than ones which help. We’ll revisit this later in the season and see if the trend is persisting.

Brent Strom audio

Brent Strom notes

  • Merrill Kelly felt comfortable with his fastball, saw more velocity than we expected. Poor pitch selection against Drury, but a combination of a couple of things. What upset him most was not holding Reynolds on, and that ended up being the winning run. We need to revisit some things we were doing earlier. Would love for him to increase his curveball usage, and that will help his control improve.
  • Dallas Keuchel. Made a start in the ACL. He got a little tired in the fifth inning. There were some positives: he threw a lot of strikes, and his sinker was very good, according to the Trackman data. But we still have some work to do, in terms of getting the arm strength back to where it needs to be. Also things he like elevating the fastball, which he had gotten away from since he was in Houston. He’ll keep working out on a daily basis, and Strom will be going to see him on Thursday’s off-day.
  • Zac Gallen. The same thing Strom saw with Kelly - a “fastball heavy approach,” Strom thinks he has three #1 pitches, maybe four. Want to see if there are any traps we are falling into, in terms of sequencing. The error was a factor, but even unearned runs are still on the pitcher not picking up his defense after it.
  • Luke Weaver will start the game on Saturday. Strom liked the fact he saw a consistent 94 mph from him in his last outing.
  • He was asked about Corbin Martin. Didn’t have much to say about him, but did add, interestingly, that pitchers in Reno are getting used to the idea that thing like ERA matter less than other metrics, e.g. first pitch strike %, swinging strike percentage.