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Series Preview # 18: Diamondbacks @ Reds

It’s time to repeat the feat.

Graham Ashcraft has the best ERA+ on the Reds.
Graham Ashcraft has the best ERA+ on the Reds.
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

It’s time to repeat the feat.

On Friday, GREAT FUN was experienced by fans who watched the Diamondbacks hit FIVE HOMERS in one game against the Pirates. Diamondback batters were on a hot streak!

Because this series is played at the Great American Stadium, expect home runs. The last time that the Diamondbacks hit five homers in a game at the Great American Stadium was 12 August 2018. Since then, other teams have done it 17 times. It’s about time for the Diamondbacks to repeat the feat.

Watch an exciting top-100 prospect in his debut season.

“Hunter Greene is considered one of the best prospects in baseball, landing in the top 35 on the Top 100 lists of Baseball America, MLB Pipeline and FanGraphs.” — Darragh McDonald, January 2022

His fastball is impressive. Its’ 98.6 MPH average velocity is at the 99th percentile. Its spin is at the 82nd percentile. Its’ his most frequent pitch at 53%.

Because this game is played at the Great American Ballpark, note that batters have frequently hit homers against his fastball (11 homers in 109 PAs per Baseball Savant).

In 2017, the Reds drafted Hunter Greene at number 2 in the first round. MLB pipeline ranked him as the top pick, but instead the Twins picked shortstop Royce Lewis.

“This is just a once-in-a-lifetime experience where I get to go out and start my career and have a blast with a great ballclub and a great group of guys.” —Hunter Greene

This AZ Snake Pit article outlines a general game plan for the Diamondback hitters against Hunter Green. If he loses focus, our batters could repeat the feat (hit 5 homers).

“You do well early and you get … I don’t want to say complacent, but you’re happy with how you’re doing, and you want to continue to be on that roll. I think that’s a dangerous place to be sometimes.” — Hunter Greene

Hunter Green talked about his reaction when he starts to lose his focus on the present: “I think mentally trying to stay as locked in as possible and trying to stay where my feet are.” — Hunter Green

Priorities recently changed for the Reds.

The Reds may not be a winning team for years. Nick Krall, GM for the Reds, pursues a model of long term success. That model is:

  • Reduce salary costs to align with team resources. Player contract salaries fell from $149 Million in 2020 to $134.7 Million in 2021 to $116.5 Million in 2022 per SpoTrac.
  • Instead of rebuilding the Reds, move toward sustainable success without peaks and valleys (compete every year instead of windows of contention). Moving towards that goal is more important than which season that the Reds start to be in contention.
  • Build the team for sustainability with player pipeline, player development, and scouting.
  • Acquire prospects who are premium athletes and who play up the middle (mainly center field and shortstop). If necessary they can be moved to other positions.
  • Pitching in the Great American Ballpark requires unique skills compared to other parks. Therefore acquire starting pitcher prospects and develop the unique skills needed.

The Pitching Matchups.

The Diamondback closers are better!

  • The Reds closer is Tony Santillan. This season, he has 4 saves in 5 opportunities. His backup is Art Warren. This season he has 3 saves in 6 opportunities. Data through 3 June.
  • The Diamondbacks closer is Mark Melancon. This season, he has 11 saves in 12 opportunities. His backups are Joe Mantiply and Ian Kennedy, who together have 5 saves in 8 opportunities. Data through 3 June.

Monday 3:40 PM Arizona time, Hunter Greene (76 ERA+) vs Madison Bumgarner (124 ERA+).

As we previously discussed, this season is the debut for Hunter Greene, an exciting top-100 prospect.

This season, Madison Bumgarner’s average game score is 50.8, which is above average. When a game score was below average, the next start he always bounced back to above average. He is constantly finding ways to pitch effectively. This season he is showing that he is still a great pitcher.

“I’d come home and he’d [Madison Bumgarner] be spinning this rope, lassoing all my furniture.” — teammate Jeremy Affeldt, 2016.

Tuesday, Graham Ashcraft (311 ERA+) vs TBA, likely Tyler Gilbert (84 ERA+).

Like Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft is in his Debut season. His cutter and sinker have average velocities of 97.7 MPH and 97.3 MPH per baseball Savant. His pitching philosophy has rare maturity for a 24 year old.

“I was doing a lot of first-pitch strikes, getting guys out quick….If I can go out there and just get ground balls all the time instead of punching tickets, I’ll take that all the time. Strikeouts are great and everything, but so is having a low pitch count and going longer in the game.” — Graham Ashcraft

Last season was Tyler Gilbert’s debut. When Tyler Gilbert gets this spot start against the Reds, he will likely pitch better than his latest start against the Dodgers. Although he allowed 4 homers in his 17 May start against the Dodgers, he allowed only 1 run in the first 5 innings. Despite that this game is played in a park that allows a lot of homers, with the caveat that his night is over when he completes 5 innings, he will be successful in this game. It will be a confidence builder.

“I’ve probably got to recognize when he’s [Tyler Gilbert] running out of gas.” — Torey Lovullo

Wednesday, Mike Minor (45 ERA+) vs Merrill Kelly (112 ERA+)

In March, the Reds traded for Mike Minor. He was injured in spring training, and had a setback during rehab in April. His first game of the season was against the Nationals. He allowed 5 earned runs in 4 innings.

“This wasn’t the way I wanted it to go.” — Mike Minor

This season, Merrill Kelly’s home runs per 9 innings was very low (0.46). Merrill Kelly is great at home run prevention. That skill will be put to the test at the Great American Stadium. Likely, Merrill Kelly will continue to impress us.

“It’s definitely more fun winning than losing.” — Merrill Kelly

Thursday, Tyler Mahle (86 ERA+) vs Zach Davies(99 ERA+)

Tyler Mahle is better than his 5.43 would lead you to believe - two stats tell a different story:

  • 3.86 xERA per Baseball Savant
  • 3.77 FIP per FanGraphs

“Tyler Mahle is doing fine, but he shouldn’t be the one expected to carry this rotation.” — Demetrius Bell, SB Nation

This season, Zach Davies’ games scores were inconsistent, ranging from 9.5 to 78.3 . The good news is that his latest start was his best of the season - zero earned runs in 7.2 innings pitched. This AZ Snake Pit article explains why he will impress us.

“It’s really just going into games with the desire to throw different pitches. It’s forcing myself to throw curveballs and cutters, everything in every count.” — Zach Davies