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D-backs Preview #54: 5/30 vs. Cardinals

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Last chance to avoid history

Russian prosecutors give press conference on reopening 1959 Dyatlov Pass Incident case Photo by Donat Sorokin\TASS via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

CARDINALS DIAMONDBACKS
Matt Carpenter - 2B Josh Rojas - 2B
Dylan Carlson - CF Ketel Marte - CF
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Carson Kelly - C
Tyler O'Neill - LF Eduardo Escobar - 3B
Edmundo Sosa - SS Christian Walker - 1B
Jose Rondon - 3B Josh Reddick - RF
Andrew Knizner - C Nick Ahmed - SS
Lane Thomas - RF Tim Locastro - LF
Kwang Hyun Kim - LHP Matt Peacock - RHP

And so, here we are. It has now been more than two weeks since the Diamondbacks last won a contest - it was ish95Fest at Chase Field, my one and only trip there this season. Maybe they won’t win until I go back again? As I’m sure you all know, defeat tonight would tie the franchise record for consecutive losses, set at 14 back in 2004. Want to know something really scary? The D-backs’ current record is two games below what it was at the same point in what would become the worst season in franchise history. Part of that is, the worse was still to come in 2004; they didn’t take up near-permanent residence in the cellar until late June. They went 26-37 to begin... then 25-74 the rest of the way.

But it is a scary indication as to how far, potentially, the team could still fall. The team’s lack of depth has been painfully exposed, with a lot of players getting regular time who, let’s be honest, should probably not be on a major-league roster. I suspect Mike Hazen was largely crossing his fingers and hoping for good health this year. That all of MLB chose this year to be hit by a literal epidemic of injuries is about the worst possible outcome. But even the healthy have not done very much. Right now, the only player on the 26-man roster worth one bWAR is Carson Kelly. The top pitcher? Caleb Smith and Merrill Kelly, tied at just 0.3 bWAR. It’s not hard to find reasons why the team has imploded so spectacularly.

This afternoon’s alternative to the D-backs game. The Dyatlov Pass Incident is one of the weirdest in history. In 1959, nine experienced Russian hikers died in very odd circumstances, after something caused them to cut their way out of their tents and flee camp. Six died of hypothermia and three of physical trauma. Various theories have been put forward to explain what happened, but none seem entirely to fit all the elements. There’s a new documentary coming out about it, An Unknown Compelling Force, and we’re looking forward to seeing what it has to say. Here’s the trailer.

Matt Herges notes

Herges stood in for Torey Lovullo this morning and gave a 17 minutes wide ranging interview. I’ve highlighted several topics covered below. I didn’t transcribe all of it. It’s worth listening to, if you have the time.

Was Seth Frankoff tipping pitches last night?

It’s definitely something that is in my mind, no matter who’s pitching. We’ve probably spent more time with Seth on eliminating any tip. Jeff Gardner has been scouring video to try to find something. That’s something that Torey’s always looking for, I’m always looking for. So there’s a possibility. I think with his change-up sometimes it’s a different look. But he’s working hard to figure it out. He’s becoming more consistent, which is a good sign. I see Wainwright out there doing different things with his glove and I think I got him and then he does something else and I don’t have him. So ultimately, it’s a possibility. It’s a pretty good lineup, I don’t want to take anything away from the Cardinals lineup. They jumped on him. A lot of early action, first pitch hits... who knows, if he made better pitches they would have maybe gone to people instead of finding holes. It’s a possibility but I’m not blaming his outing on that.

Madison Bumgarner last couple of outings:

I’m seeing velo continue to climb. He’s hitting more 93’s now. Again with Bum when he’s not lights out it’s typically because he’s not commanding his pitches perfectly. That’s it. The shapes of his pitches are the same, the velo continues to climb. He’s not a tipper. That’s not something he’s ever had a problem with. he just wasn’t commanding the ball perfectly.

Caleb Smith returning to rotation:

Herges seemed to let it out that they’re finally considering having Caleb Smith return to the rotation. Herges believes he has earned another shot. He praised his improved change-up to go with his slider. So keep an eye out for that.

Corbin Martin send out

They think very highly of him and think he has a tremendous future and will be part of the rotation here for a while. He needed to go down to find his command. He’s got a simple repeatable delivery. He’s got it in him to throw the ball over the plate. He’s not afraid of swings…That was our message. Go down, find your command. Throw strike one. Avoid 3 ball counts. Dominate the first 3 pitches… You either can’t throw strikes or you don’t want to. He can and he wants to.

Are pitchers over throwing (leading to more control issues, hit batsmen, injuries, etc) and do they need to back off?

Yeah, I don’t think that’s going to happen. I think the pitching industry is driven on velo. I think that’s what we’re instilling in our kids.

We’re telling them if you throw harder you can get a scholarship. You throw harder you can get drafted. It’s harder to get drafted nowadays because there are less rounds……the industry thinks that velo is the ticket… I don’t think we can say, hey, listen - try not to throw as hard and command the ball. All WE do is stress command over stuff, 100% every day of the week. Because at this level that’s what separates people . My thing is to tell pitchers to throw as hard as you can control the baseball.

He went on to say that maybe it’s one of the causes for more injuries, he didn’t know, but nobody is going to tone it down.

In a later follow up question I asked him about proposals to lower the mound or move the mound back. He said that whatever they do, the advantage will still be with the pitchers and the hitters will have to try to adjust to what the pitchers are doing. It was a lengthy but interesting answer.

Matt Herges audio [or link]