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Diamondbacks Gameday Thread, #59: 6/3 vs. Braves

The biggest challenge to the winning streak yet,

Durham Bulls vs Jacksonville Jumbo Shirmp Set Number: X163612 TK1

Today's Lineups

Ronald Acuna - RF Pavin Smith - RF
Matt Olson - 1B Ketel Marte - 2B
Austin Riley - 3B Corbin Carroll - CF
Sean Murphy - C Lourdes Gurriel - LF
Eddie Rosario - LF Emmanuel Rivera - 1B
Ozzie Albies - 2B Evan Longoria - DH
Marcell Ozuna - DH Josh Rojas - 3B
Orlando Arcia - SS Gabriel Moreno - C
Michael Harris - CF Geraldo Perdomo - SS
Spencer Strider - RHP Ryne Nelson - RHP

[Thanks to samath for automating updates on the bullpen usage spreadsheet!]

It’s hard to state just how dominant Spencer Strider has been this year. I mean, he was pretty dominant last season, only losing out on the Rookie of the Year award to team-mate Michael Harris II. And with Harris currently enjoying an OPS+ of 39 this year, that choice looks like a swing and a miss by BBWAA voters. For Strider has upped his game in 2023, allowing fewer hits and striking out more batters than in that rookie campaign. Indeed, his K-rate is now at historic levels. Of the 191 hitters retired by Strider this year, more than half of them (106) have carried their bats back to the dugout. That’s 42% of everyone who has come to the plate for face him, a K-rate of 15.0 per nine innings.

It’s the highest strikeout rate in baseball history for a season by anyone with 5+ starts. In fact, nobody has even reached 14.0 K/9 IP over a season with more than 15 starts. The high there is Gerrit Cole’s is 13.8 for 2019. He and Strider last year, are the only pitchers to throw 100 innings and get more than half their outs by the K. As mentioned, Spencer is on pace to do so again this year. Simply putting the ball in play will be a victory of sorts for the D-backs this afternoon. That said, Strider has been almost mortal of late: one win in his last five starts, with an ERA in May of 4.01. But Arizona has struggled against power pitchers like him this year. They have an OPS of .612 there, fifty-six points below MLB average.

So I certainly do not think it’s going to be easy. The D-backs will need to take advantage of any opportunities that present themselves, and also avoid making mistakes. There’s a good case to be made that sloppy defense and base-running cost the Braves yesterday’s contest, as well as going hitless with runners in scoring position - especially the two chances in the ninth inning. In a one-run game, it’s the little things that count. Of course, we’ll also be relying on Ryne Nelson to keep it close. It’s ironic that his last outing was his worst of the month, but gave Nelson his only win, the offense rebounding against the Rockies. An outing more like his starts in Oakland and Philadelphia would be helpful, to put it mildly.