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Diamondbacks Game Preview #87: 7/11 @ Giants

Joe Mantiply: unexpected All-Star

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Rojas - 3B LaMonte Wade - 1B
Alek Thomas - CF Joc Pederson - LF
Ketel Marte - DH Wilmer Flores - 2B
Christian Walker - 1B Brandon Belt - DH
David Peralta - LF Luis Gonzalez - RF
Buddy Kennedy - 2B David Villar - 3B
Daulton Varsho - RF Brandon Crawford - SS
Carson Kelly - C Mike Yastrzemski - CF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Joey Bart - C
Merrill Kelly - RHP Alex Cobb - RHP

Probably no figure sums up Joe Mantiply’s remarkable season than his strikeout to walk ratio. After walking the second batter he faced this season, Mantiply has now gone 130 hitters in a row without adding to the tally, while striking out 34 of them. That 34:1 K:BB is the second-best ratio (min 20 IP) for the first-half of the season in the history of... Well, the history of seasons being divided into halves by the All-Star break. The only superior one prior to this year came in 1991, when Dennis Eckersley had a K:BB of 38:1 in the first half. Indeed, there are only a handful of other players to have reached even twenty, most recently Kenley Jansen, who in 2017 struck out 57 players while walking only two before the break.

Since that solitary base on balls, Mantiply has come close to issuing further free passes. On 12 occasions he has gone to a three-ball count on hitters. But they have all ended in other ways: three hits (all singles) and nine outs, five of those by the strikeout. Perhaps the closest was on July 3 in Coors Field, where he fell 3-1 behind Ryan McMahon - that has only happened three times this year - before getting him to fly out. But here’s an oddity: Mantiply has been more effective after throwing ball one than strike one. In 45 PA after going 1-0, he has held opposing hitters to an OPS of .405; in 78 PA after getting ahead 0-1, the comparable figure is .615. [9 PA ended on the first pitch, with an OPS of .444 there]

We’ll see how it goes the rest of the way. In 1991, Eckersley went (relatively) wild after the break, ending with a K:BB of 87:9, which wasn’t even the best of his career. If we set the line at 50 innings of work, the best K:BB ratio since the 1880’s still belong to Eckersley, who went 55:3 in 1989 (and then 73:4 the following year, the second-best mark in modern times). Liam Hendriks completes the podium, with a 113:7 ratio last year, remarkable as much for the K-rate, considering he only threw 71 innings. That does give Mantiply a bit of leeway, in that even if he was to walk the next batter he faced, his K:BB would still be 17, good enough for third in the past 140 years. It’ll certainly be something fun to follow for a bit.

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Recalled OF Jake McCarthy (No. 30) from Triple-A Reno.
  • Optioned OF Cooper Hummel to Reno following yesterday’s game.

Hummel has definitely struggled in his most recent promotion, having gone 4-for-28 with one walk and nine strikeouts. That dropped his season triple-slash down to .171/.282/.295 for a .576 OPS. As we noted a couple of days ago, the gap between that and his Triple-A OPS (much of it in Reno) is massive - now more than four hundred points... McCarthy has hit .333/.397/.485 since being sent down, so we’ll see how much his drop-off ends up being.