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Diamondbacks Game Preview #134: 9/5 @ Padres

The D-backs start their quest for a fourth series win in a row, as Ryne Nelson makes his debut.

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Syndication: Arizona Republic Michael Chow/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK

Today's Lineups

Carson Kelly - C Jurickson Profar - LF
Josh Rojas - DH Juan Soto - RF
Ketel Marte - 2B Manny Machado - 3B
Christian Walker - 1B Josh Bell - 1B
Emmanuel Rivera - 3B Jake Cronenworth - 2B
Jake McCarthy - RF Ha-Seong Kim - SS
Stone Garrett - LF Matt Beaty - DH
Alek Thomas - CF Trent Grisham - CF
Geraldo Perdomo - SS Austin Nola - C
Ryne Nelson - RHP Blake Snell - LHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Selected RHP Ryne Nelson (No. 52) from Triple-A Reno
  • Recalled INF Yonny Hernandez from Reno and placed him on the 60-day injured list (strained left calf).
  • Optioned RHP Luis Frias to Reno following yesterday’s game.
  • The D-backs’ 40-man roster remains at 40.

A Triple-A 5.43 ERA would not typically get a promotion to the major-leagues. But there's reason to hope for better from Ryne Nelson. Firstly, is the oft-discussed environment of the Pacific Coast League. Just as it inflates hitters' numbers causing unrealistic expectations, so pitchers look worse than they are. The collective ERA there this year is, coincidentally, also 5.43, compared to the current MLB figure of 3.97. That will go quite some way to countering the higher quality of hitters Nelson will be seeing today. It may be no coincidence the team chose San Diego for his debut: per ESPN, it is the most pitcher-friendly park in the majors this year [Starting today means he’ll miss Coors too, given Arizona’s six-man rotation].

It's also reported Nelson tweaked his mechanics earlier in the season. Specifically, he was reaching too far back on each pitch, and this was affecting the results. After some changes were made, according to pitching coordinator Dan Carlson, “The carry came back. The command came back. And also the breaking ball got much, much sharper and then with the slider and change, he was able to keep those things in the strike zone.” Through May 24, Nelson had a 7.34 ERA and had allowed 10 home-runs in barely 40 innings of work. Over 17 starts since, the ERA for Ryne has been 4.61, significantly below the PCL average, with an improved home-run rate.

His walk- and strikeout-rates are both a bit below PCL average. That suggests we will potentially see more balls in play - given Arizona’s defensive prowess of late, it may not be a bad thing. While caution should be exercised with AAA stats (once more, due to the weird environment), Nelson appears to be quite fly-ball skewing, with a GB% of only 36%, lower than the 43% MLB average, so could keep our outfielders busy. While I haven’t seen a line-up yet (what’s above is getting plugged in nearer game-time!), I would not be surprised to see Torey Lovullo go with his best defensive trio out there this afternoon, to give Nelson the best chance of success.