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Preview, #100: 7/21 vs. Brewers

If Alex Young just goes ahead and tosses a Maddux today, we’d all appreciate it.

MLB: JUL 02 Diamondbacks at Dodgers Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

BREWERS DIAMONDBACKS
Lorenzo Cain - CF Jarrod Dyson - RF
Keston Hiura - 2B Ketel Marte - CF
Mike Moustakas - 3B Eduardo Escobar - 2B
Jesus Aguilar - 1B Christian Walker - 1B
Manny Pina - C Jake Lamb - 3B
Orlando Arcia - SS Nick Ahmed - SS
Ben Gamel - RF Alex Avila - C
Tyler Saladino - LF Tim Locastro - LF
Brandon Woodruff - RHP Alex Young - LHP

It is, of course, inevitable. Over the All-Star break, Jack wrote an article titled, “The Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen is better than you think.” Naturally, during the slightly less than two weeks since then, Arizona relievers have had an ERA of 5.32, and been worth -62.9% in Win Probability. In particular, their line over this crucial series against wild-card rivals Milwaukee has been especially rancid:
AZ bullpen: 9.1 IP, 14 H, 13 R, 13 ER, 6 BB, 12 SO, 3 HR, 12,54 ERA, -95.3% WP
They have chosen probably the worst possible time, to deliver close to their worst possible performances, handing two wins to one of our closest competitors, and wasting solid starts by Merrill Kelly and Zack Greinke.

The weird thing is, their underlying stats in the second half have not been bad, almost the same as they were before the break:
1st half: .251/.331/.421 = .752 OPS
2nd half: .250/.327/.409 = .736 OPS
Their WHIP is just .039 higher, and their K:BB ratio has actually improved (2.37 vs. 2.45). This is reflected in a second-half FIP (fielding-independent ERA) of 3.99, third-BEST in the league. The problem has been their work in high-leverage situations. Fangraphs’ clutch pitch performance metric has them dead-last in the NL since the break, with a -0.90 rating. With just four 2nd-half shutdown relief appearances, only the Pirates have fewer in the league.

They need to do considerably better if the team is to stay in contention. We’ll also need another good outing from Alex Young, who has come out of nowhere to become our #4 starter, after Luke Weaver, Jon Duplantier and Taylor Clarke all fell by the wayside for one reason or another. It’s remarkable, considering few places had Young even in our top 20 prospects before the season started. Mike had Alex as our 25th-best, and that was higher than most places e.g. he wasn’t in MLB.com’s pre-season top 30. On that basis, I’m still kinda waiting for the shoe to drop, but after his great job against a tough Texas line-up last time, I’m feeling hopeful he is the real deal. and can help us salvage a series split today.