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Snake Bytes, 6/26: Ready for the Rays

The D-backs prepare for the arrival of MLB’s best, after a mediocre series in San Francisco.

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MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Milwaukee Brewers Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports


[SI] Ryne Nelson Shoves for Seven Strong Innings in Win - Nelson came into the game having thrown his fastball 55% of the time and his changeup just 12%. But today he used all his pitches, dropping the fastball usage to 47% (42 in total), using his change a whopping 25 times, and getting seven swings and misses with the pitch. The most swings and miss he had with the change in a game before today was three. If this is the evolution of a young pitcher maturing the D-backs may yet have the strong third starter they are looking for. The fact that it was Nelson that stepped up with a huge game in front of a packed, hostile stadium in a playoff like atmosphere should not be overlooked.

[AZ Central] Ryne Nelson leads Diamondbacks past Giants, avoiding sweep - In his first 12 starts of the year — from Opening Day to June 3 — Nelson got batters to whiff on just 18.3% of swings. Among 97 starting pitchers who have gotten at least 400 swings, that would rank 95th. But over his last four starts, Nelson has upped his whiff rate to 26.4%, which is slightly above league average. The shift happened before a start in Detroit, when Nelson worked with pitching coach Brent Strom on keeping his shoulders even and rotating towards the plate later in his pitching motion, rather than flying open too early.

[] ‘He just beat us’: Nelson deals in dominant start vs. Giants - Nelson has a big fastball, one that plays up from its velocity due to the amount of spin he gets on it. But Strom has been working with Nelson to mix his pitches better, especially early in counts, and that’s what he did Sunday. “I felt good today,” Nelson said. “That was what we've been working on right there. That was where we've been trying to get to -- being able to keep hitters off-balance and throw a variety of pitches in a variety of counts. And I think that was executed today.”

[AP] Nelson sharp, Marte homers again as Diamondbacks top Giants 5-2 -Ryne Nelson struck out six in seven innings in his strongest start of the season, Ketel Marte added two hits and homered for the second consecutive game, and the Arizona Diamondbacks held off the surging San Francisco Giants 5-2 on Sunday to avoid a series sweep. Christian Walker extended his career-high hitting streak to 10 games with an RBI double for Arizona [who] set a franchise record with its 79th consecutive game without being shut out, the ninth-longest streak in the majors since 1998. “We felt like we needed to respond to a couple of tough games where we let some things get away from us that we were able to control,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “The group walked in here today very focused.”

Team news

[Arizona Sports] Next Diamondbacks prospect? Checking in on mock drafts 2 weeks from MLB Draft - The MLB Draft Combine concluded last week at Chase Field, with the Arizona Diamondbacks’ front office getting the opportunity to scout in its own backyard. “Getting information about these guys, especially from a front office standpoint … we get to meet these guys to get to know who they are as players, its probably the biggest separator in guys when they’re drafted,” D-backs general manager Mike Hazen told MLB Network.

[KTSM] Ivan Melendez showing out in first full season in Diamondbacks’ farm system - “It’s been quite the experience. I am getting a taste of a little bit of everything. I’ve had some success, struggles, injuries, winning, losing so I am just enjoying all the experiences.” Melendez said. The 2022 second round draft pick tells KTSM he is aiming to finish the year at the Double-A level in the team’s farm system. “Right now, I am just trying to move up the system day by day and have good weeks, hopefully try to finish the season in Double-A,” Melendez said.

And, elsewhere...

[Fangraphs] You Know, For Kids: Finding Meaning in the MLB Draft Combine - Baseball is a different beast than football; its schedule is unique, its athletes measured and evaluated differently. But 2023 represented a concerted effort by the league to attempt to make the combine into an event. What ensued over four days in Phoenix last week was an odd middle ground between a showcase in the sense of the idiom used specifically in baseball scouting and a showcase as understood by people who don’t dress exclusively in dri-fit, wielding stopwatches and radar guns.

[] 4 artifacts from ‘23 London Series to be enshrined in HOF - Paul Goldschmidt became the undisputed “Mr. Worldwide” of MLB on Saturday, becoming the first player in MLB history to play a regular-season game in five countries (USA, Australia, Canada, Mexico and England). To commemorate the moment, Goldy’s hat from Saturday’s game was collected and prepped to be sent to the Hall of Fame. “I never thought I’d even play in one country in the big leagues, so to play in five is pretty amazing,” said Goldschmidt during Saturday’s broadcast.

Brainstorm (1983)

Rating: C

Dir: Douglas Trumbull

Star: Christopher Walken, Natalie Wood, Louise Fletcher, Cliff Robertson

This was made the same year as Videodrome, and covers at least adjacent territory, both being about the topic of artificially-induced experience. They also benefit from a strong central performance at the core, from Walken and James Woods. However, this has aged far worse, particularly on the technology front. It’s all tape drives and primitive robotics, though we reach peak eighties with the suitcase-sized contraption, including a dial-up modem, Walken’s character uses to connect remotely to a computer. He is researcher Michael Brace, who along with Lillian Reynolds (Fletcher), has invented a system for recording experiences, allowing them to be played back for another person. Not all is roses. Michael’s marriage to Karen (Wood) is on the edge of collapse, while his boss (Robertson) wants to hand the project to the military-industrial complex.

I’m not sure why the latter appears to come as a surprise. It’s the second most-obvious use for such a device (and yes, they briefly cover the most obvious one too, this being a time when you could have breasts in a PG movie). The offensive capability is made clear when one character records their heart attack and death, creating a tape capable of killing anyone who experiences it. That feels like something out of a Black Mirror episode, yet its potential is never realized. Instead, the film heads off to a finale nearer to Toys, with Michael turning the facility against its military bosses. Foam and pratfalls are an awkward contrast to the earlier, dark tone, and the “hacking” scenes feel especially dated.

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