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Preview, #36: 5/7 @ Rays

Hopefully, it’ll go a bit better than yesterday, and we don’t end up with John Ryan Murphy pitching again...

Arizona Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Ketel Marte - CF Brandon Lowe - RF
Eduardo Escobar - 3B Tommy Pham - LF
David Peralta - LF Ji-Man Choi - DH
Adam Jones - RF Yandy Diaz - 3B
Christian Walker - DH Nate Lowe - 1B
Wilmer Flores - 1B Daniel Robertson - 2B
Nick Ahmed - SS Kevin Kiermaier - CF
Ildemaro Vargas - 2B Willy Adames - SS
Carson Kelly - C Michael Perez - C

The above, for some reason, omits that Taylor Clarke will be making his first major-league start. It’s not his first appearance, of course: that came on April 20, when he worked a three-inning save in his debut, closing out a 6-0 win over the Cubs on the heels of Zack Greinke. He now gets the chance to follow that up with his first W. From what I can see, no pitcher has picked up a save and a win in his first two appearances, since the save became an official stat in 1969. Many have got two wins. Some have even got two saves - most famously, perhaps, Charlie Hough. But I’ve not found any cases of a pitcher splitting the two categories.

Admittedly, after yesterday’s sound thrashing, it seems that Clarke will have to pitch just a little bit better than Merrill Kelly, if he’s to accomplish the feat. He will be pitching for his rotational spot: if he struggles, there’s always our other three-inning save guy, Jon Duplantier, lurking in the wings to take his spot. Though after yesterday bumped Kelly’s season ERA up to 4.85, the bar to stick around has perhaps been lowered a little for Clarke. We could end up with a situation where he, Kelly and Zack Godley end up shuffling around between long relief and the fourth and fifth starter’s spots perhaps. Though Taijuan Walker - who threw four innings in extended spring training Monday - is also looming.

To make room for Clarke on the roster, the team sent outfielder Tim Locastro back to Reno. The way the schedule shakes out, Clarke’s spot would come up again on Saturday, back at Chase against Atlanta. But five days after that is an off-day, so there’s potential for the D-backs to skip the spot there if they wanted, keep everyone else on their regular five-day rotation, and not need a fifth starter until May 21st. It may depend on how well Clarke pitches, today and (if he’s allowed to hang around) on Saturday. Or maybe they’ll tag team him and Duplantier, alternating starts and using the roster spot between times for an extra bullpen arm or bench bat? We’ll see how creative Mike Hazen wants to be...