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D-backs Preview #35: 5/10 vs. Marlins

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2020 called. They want their slump back.

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

MARLINS DIAMONDBACKS
Isan Diaz - 2B Pavin Smith - RF
Jesus Aguilar - 1B Carson Kelly - C
Garrett Cooper - RF Asdrubal Cabrera - 3B
Corey Dickerson - LF David Peralta - LF
Brian Anderson - 3B Christian Walker - 1B
Lewis Brinson - CF Eduardo Escobar - 2B
Chad Wallach - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Jon Berti - SS Daulton Varsho - CF
Jordan Holloway - RHP Luke Weaver - RHP

After arguably the worst road-trip in more than a decade, Arizona returns to Chase Field with things feeling increasingly like last year’s slump. The team has now lost six games in a row, being held to four or fewer runs each time. There have only been two longer streaks of tacoless defeats since the end of 2009. The most recent was last year, when they had a seven-game run. That was part of an overall eight-game losing streak, which started that horrendous spell where the D-backs lost 18 of 20. And, just like the current dismal run, it began when the team reached a season-high of two games above .500. The all-time worst, incidentally, is eight games in 2004. You do not want to break any records set that year.

Today doesn’t bring much reason to be optimistic, with Luke Weaver’s ERA of 6.07 now being the highest in the rotation. That seven innings of one-hit ball against Cincinnati is looking as much an aberration as Wade Milley’s no-hitter. His four outings since have seen as many earned runs allowed as innings pitched - 17 of each - with ten walks and an OPS against of 1.074. Some of that is opposing batters hitting them where they ain’t, with a BABIP of .423. But the fact only one of those four appearances saw him get an out past the fourth inning is a problem in any circumstance. At current pace, Weaver could make every scheduled start and still not throw enough innings to be considered a qualifying pitcher.

That would be something no NL starter has ever done. The only two pitchers to have made at least 32 starts, without reaching the threshold of 162 IP, were both in the AL. One was mentioned earlier: Miley, who worked 157.1 innings for the 2017 Orioles. The other is Yusei Kikuchi who game one innings short on the 2019 Mariners. Right now, if Weaver made 32 starts, he’d be on pace for 158.1 innings. But if the results don’t improve significantly, it’s hard to see him sticking in the rotation all year. Indeed. it may be that only Taylor Widener being on the shelf has kept Weaver there for now. One more bad start, and the rumbling about Jon Duplantier returning may become more concrete.

Torey Lovullo notes

  • Still looking a little rough, but said he is feeling a little better. “My expectation is that we are going to win tonight.” When the team doesn’t match the expectations he has, he gets a bit frustrated, but “today is a new day... Nothing we did yesterday is going to impact us today.”
  • HBP and wild pitches at an all-time high. Torey’s perspective is that pitch framing might be part of the reason, with moving the glove and perfecting their hand movements, which might cause them to get “locked up.” With regard to hit pitches, “it used to be an eye for an eye. I don’t necessarily believe in that. For me the protection part of it is not a great answer.” Balls get away from a pitche, and batters want to pull the ball, so are crowding the plate. Also, the lack of mound visits may factor in to an increased number of cross-ups.
  • Expectations for Luke Weaver. “I have some unbelievable conversations with Luke over the past few days” and we believe he’s ready to go out and have a terrific game. Everyone is evaluated every single day, but “I think Luke is in a very good spot.”
  • “We’ve got to build faith in one another, and go out and perform as a team. That’s one of the demands that we have. We budgeted for hard time, but we’re going to do the little things right, and hopefully win a ballgame.”
  • Injury updates. Ketel Marte continues to ramp up activity. He’s going to come over to Chase tomorrow, and get him on the bases in his spikes. Taylor Widener threw a bullpen today, and the report was he felt very, very good. The next step, all being well, would be a simulated game in the 50-pitch range. Kole Calhoun played catch today, just trying to keep his arm active.
  • The Marlins are “a quality baseball team” who took advantage of every opportunity. Arizona has got to limit the free passes, but the D-backs have a chip on their shoulder for this series.

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]