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Diamondbacks Gameday Thread, #26: 4/26 vs. Royals

The Arizona bullpen is certainly being kept active

Kansas City Royals v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Bobby Witt - SS Ketel Marte - 2B
Vinnie Pasquantino - 1B Emmanuel Rivera - 3B
MJ Melendez - DH Lourdes Gurriel - LF
Edward Olivares - LF Christian Walker - 1B
Michael Massey - 2B Evan Longoria - DH
Kyle Isbel - CF Corbin Carroll - RF
Freddy Fermin - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Nicky Lopez - 3B Alek Thomas - CF
Jackie Bradley - RF Jose Herrera - C
Ryan Yarbrough - LHP Zac Gallen - RHP

Four Arizona pitchers are currently only pace to make more than 70 appearances this season: Andrew Chafin. Kevin Ginkel, Scott McGough and Kyle Nelson. Ginkel leads the way, with 12 trips to the mound in 25 games, which is on pace for 78. Miguel Castro isn’t far off that pace either, currently projected for 65 appearances. This isn’t too much of a surprise. The D-backs bullpen has been having to throw more innings than ever before, thanks to things like Drew Jameson’s one-inning outing. The rotation has averaged less than five innings per start this year. The 2023 figure of 4.9 is half an inning down on last year’s figure of 5.4, and that’s half an inning more the bullpen has to find every night.

The math makes sense. Four innings a game, eight relief pitchers, typically throwing an inning = work every second game, To try and mitigate this, Torey Lovullo has been using relievers for extended outings more often: it was highlighted by Andrew Chafin’s longest outing in almost six years, closing out the win on Monday. The D-backs are on pace for 175 relief appearances recording more than three outs, That would be a 65% increase over last season’s figure (106). And things should improve as we get into May: starters tend to go shorter in April generally. Last year, Arizona’s April average starter outing was actually even lower than this year, at 4.65 innings, though that was partly due to the short spring.

The Diamondbacks are certainly not alone. So far, there are 62 players in the majors to have pitched 11+ times, like the Arizona quartet. James Karinchak has appeared in 14 of Cleveland’s 24 games. Which is odd, because the Guardians are actually above average in terms of starter’s length at 5.2 innings per start. I tend to think this is likely a problem which will sort itself out. Starters will go deeper, relievers will get hurt (and not especially as a result of overuse). The peak for relief iron men in Arizona was 2018, when Archie Bradley, Yoshihisa Hirano and, yes, Chafin all pitched more than 70 games. So odds are against all of the current quartet making it to the finish line.

Meanwhile, today sees Zac Gallen try to extend his scoreless streak with a fourth straight outing without allowing a run. Only two pitchers in franchise history have ever reached that mark - oddly, neither Randy Johnson nor Curt Schilling did so. It is probably the names you would think: Brandon Webb’s five consecutive starts in 2007, and Gallen himself, when he set the franchise record scoreless streak last year. The Royals remain almost the worst-hitting team in the majors, their .630 OPS ahead only of the Tigers. But the first two games in this series have both shown they are likely tougher than their record shows. Be nice for Gallen to prove himself the ace once again, and give Arizona a victory in the series.