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Diamondbacks Game Preview #96: 7/25 vs. Giants

The Giants arrive, reeling after a pounding at the hands of the Dodgers.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Joc Pederson - LF Josh Rojas - 3B
Austin Slater - CF Alek Thomas - CF
Wilmer Flores - 2B Ketel Marte - 2B
Brandon Belt - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Darin Ruf - DH David Peralta - DH
Thairo Estrada - SS Daulton Varsho - RF
Luis Gonzalez - RF Jake McCarthy - LF
David Villar - 3B Carson Kelly - C
Joey Bart - C Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Jakob Junis - RHP Merrill Kelly - RHP

San Francisco were swept in a four-game series at Dodger Stadium, and it wasn’t even particularly close, being outscored by a margin of 25-13. They have struggled on the road in general of late, not having won a series away from San Francisco in more than five weeks, and gone 4-11 during that time. It includes dropping two of three the last time they came here, a series beginning with the Independence Day holiday.

Merrill Kelly is facing the Giants for the 3rd time in three weeks. Torey did not feel any concern about the Giants having an advantage because of that. Asked if it can sometimes go the other way and create an advantage for the pitcher, he said it just depends on the pitcher and hitters’ ability to make adjustments and follow a game plan.

In Merrill’s last two starts against the Giants he’s thrown 13.1 IP, giving up just 4 runs on 7 hits, 5 walks, and 10 K’s. He did not allow a homer. He got a no decision on July 6th and picked up the win on July 11th.

Meanwhile, the team’s bullpen struggles continued last night. The loss was charged to Joe Mantiply, being the D-backs 24th relief loss of the season already. As a yardstick, that’s already the same number as they had in all of 2016, and that wasn’t a great team, finishing with a 69-93 record. Just two years ago, the D-backs had never had a bullpen which lost more than 35 games in a season. However, that figure jumped to 41 in 2021, and another new record could be set again this year, with the team currently on pace to match that figure. It’s not just a case of increased workload. They’re also on pace to throw 588.1 innings, which would actually be less than in 2019 (597.2) when the bullpen were 29-26.

Mark Melancon’s eight losses clearly lead the pack. However, Ian Kennedy has four, while Noe Ramirez and Mantiply have three apiece. The latter’s struggles don’t immediately appear to have been ended by the time off over the All-Star break. After allowing one earned run over his first 29 appearances, covering 26.2 innings, he has given up nine over his most recent 11 outings and innings. Over that time, opponents have hit Joe at a .304 average, though the K:BB of 12:1 has still been decent. A .355 batting average on balls in play is a factor, and with his line-drive rate not spiking, it may simply be bad luck. We’ll likely not see that 0,34 ERA again, yet we should remember even his 2.39 ERA is among the best in franchise history.

Torey Lovullo audio

Torey Lovullo notes

Zach Davies will throw a sim game tomorrow, 2 IP, 40 Pitches to begin his build up and progression. Torey offered no time line after that, however usually they increase about 15 pitches per outing. So it would seem Zach could need two or even three more outings before he rejoins rotation. Looking at the calendar and charing it out it seems the earliest possible return is August 10th to 12th, and most likely it will fall August 15th or later.

Runners in Scoring Position

The Diamondbacks are hitting .262 with RISP with 0 or 1 outs. League average is .268. But just .186 with RISP and TWO outs. League average in that split is .234. Torey was not aware the variance was that great. He didn’t provide an explanation for why this might be. He did emphasize what they are looking for from the hitters:

“I’m just looking for good hard contact. Looking for guys to follow the plan, not go out of the zone and chase. To hunt and look for the pitch that they want to hit”

He didn’t think approach should change much based on how many outs there are. I’ll be revisiting this.

Yesterday Kennedy and Mantiply flip flopped their usual inning, with IPK going in the 7th and Joe in the 8th. But this was specific to the matchups and figuring out how they wanted to attack Juan Soto.

Jake McCarthy is playing LF tonight and David Peralta is the DH. Torey said not to read anything into that, as he’s just giving David a day off his feet to concentrate on hitting. He did go on to praise Jake for working hard and smashing the ball in Reno when he was sent out a couple of times.

He also mentioned how Jake bounced back nicely over the weekend after a tough day against Patrick Corbin’s slider on Friday.