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Diamondbacks Game Preview #67: 6/18 vs. Twins

We haven’t seen much of the Twins.

Minnesota Twins v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Luis Arraez - 2B Daulton Varsho - RF
Carlos Correa - SS Alek Thomas - CF
Max Kepler - RF Josh Rojas - 3B
Gio Urshela - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Alex Kirilloff - 1B David Peralta - LF
Gary Sanchez - DH Buddy Kennedy - 2B
Trevor Larnach - LF Pavin Smith - DH
Ryan Jeffers - C Carson Kelly - C
Nick Gordon - CF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Dylan Bundy - RHP Luke Weaver - RHP

The Diamondbacks came into this series with just eight wins against the Twins. That was tied with the Red Sox for fewest against any opponent in franchise history. While part of that is simply not seeing Minnesota very often - the last time we played them at Chase Field was more than eleven years ago, in May 2011 - Arizona’s win percentage of .381 was also the lowest versus anybody. Last night’s win obviously kicked it up: the .409 W% is now above the Mariners (.389), Cardinals (.387) and Red Sox (.381). St. Louis are the obvious outlier there, since we’ve played them a LOT more than an American League team. That’s over 163 games, compared to 36 for Seattle and 21 against Boston.

Which is a round-about way of saying that trying to determine who are the “Twins killers” for the Diamondbacks is pretty hard. There are less than a handful of Arizona players to have even 25 PA against the Twins: Luis Gonzalez, Alex Cintron, Chad Tracy and A.J. Pollock are the only such D-backs. Of those, Cintron is the best, having batted .424 (14-for-33). For the smaller sample-sizes, Shea Hillenbrand leads the pack, at 5-for-11 with a home-run and a triple, giving him a 1.409 OPS. Among active D-backs, the only man with even double-digit PAs against Minnesota is David Peralta - who, ironically, didn’t appear last night. Still, from 2014-17, he played five games, but the resulting line of .191/.182/.333 isn’t anything special.

On the other side, there are a couple of Twins with more than 40 PAs against the D-backs, in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. While the former was held to a .524 OPS, the latter hit Arizona pitching very well - .359/.422/.539 across 11 games against the D-backs. As with the home team, there are very few Twins on the current roster who have any significant history. Only two of the players we saw appear in yesterday’s game played versus Arizona when the two sides last met in 2017. One is Max Kepler, who has a decent record: over four games, he has an .863 OPS. But the real “D-backs killer” is Byron Buxton (top), who opened yesterday’s game with a HR. He’s 7-for-18 vs. ARI, with just one single, for a .389 average and 1.056 SLG.

Torey Lovullo audio

Torey Lovullo Notes

Ketel Marte has a Mild Grade 1 Lateral Hamstring Strain and remains day to day. Torey indicated Marte will be a game time decision as to his availability tonight but also said that he expects him back in the lineup “at some point” in San Diego series. He seemed acknowledge that if he’s not in the lineup by then that an IL stint is a possibility too.

Luke Weaver’s inning/pitch count target today is 5/75. Regarding the mechanical changes that Luke has been making Lovullo said “The first and most noticeable thing is that he’s going over his head with his delivery, his windup. And then I think he’s just staying over the rubber. He’s a little bit more upright, he’s a little taller through his entire delivery. I think that’s going to take a little bit of pressure and strain off of his arm. He’s got to use his leg through his entire delivery. He’s got a lot of arm strength, and for him to just rely on that arm strength I think he’s not doing himself any favors.”

Dallas Keuchel had a very positive bullpen according to Brent Strom, who is very encouraged. Keuchel will pitch in the Arizona Complex League again on Monday. Torey emphasized that the plan going forward depends on how he does in these outings and these bullpens. It did not sound like a rotation opportunity was guaranteed, it will be a performance based decision according to Torey

A couple of fun discussions ensued that are worth a listen.

Bunts, and the difference between sac bunting and just giving up the out, as opposed to bunting for base hits, and who are the guys they may turn to for this strategy.

Running through stop signs, (recently Josh Rojas and Alek Thomas) was also discussed. Torey said if you are going to run through a stop sign you better be safe. I asked him if he felt that outfielders today don’t throw as accurately as outfielders in the past, and he affirmed that was his view as well. The follow up was then if outfielders don’t throw as accurately does that require a recalibration of the risk reward calculations from the 3rd base coach ? Torey defended his coach of course.

Torey was asked who are some of the better arms he remembers from his playing days and mentioned a very cool anecdote about Jay Buhner. You’ll have to listen to the audio ;)