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D-backs Preview #101: 7/25 @ Cubs

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Time for a Tankapalooza update

IRAQ-UNREST Photo credit should read ALI AL-SAADI/AFP via Getty Images

Today's Lineups

DIAMONDBACKS CUBS
Daulton Varsho - CF Willson Contreras - C
Pavin Smith - 1B Kris Bryant - RF
Eduardo Escobar - 2B Anthony Rizzo - 1B
Kole Calhoun - RF Javier Baez - SS
Asdrubal Cabrera - 3B Patrick Wisdom - LF
David Peralta - LF Jake Marisnick - CF
Nick Ahmed - SS David Bote - 3B
Bryan Holaday - C Nico Hoerner - 2B
Caleb Smith - LHP Trevor Williams - RHP

The D-backs have been playing better of late: coming into today, they have gone 5-3 in the second half. That has definitely narrowed their lead at the top of the Tankapalooza 2021 standings, where they are now 3 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles. Here’s where they stand:

  1. Diamondbacks: 31-69
  2. Orioles: 33-64
  3. Rangers: 35-64
  4. Pirates: 38-60
  5. Marlins 42-57

We say goodbye, for now, to the Royals, who have dropped out of the top five, after putting together a winning streak of their own. But the team to watch are clearly the Rangers, who have lost eleven in a row. The D-backs face them next, albeit just for a quick two-game set, going to Arlington after they leave Chicago later today. That could well prove a bellwether series in terms of determining whether the Rangers are genuine contenders or pretenders.

For once today, there's reason to cheer FOR the opposing starter. From today's Diamondbacks game notes: "Today’s Cubs starter, Trevor Williams, started Project 34 in honor of his former roommate and teammate at Arizona State University, Cory Hahn in March 2018. Hahn, the D-backs’ coordinator of professional scouting, suffered a fractured C-5 vertebrae sliding into second base in his third game with the Sun Devils in 2011.

Project 34’s mission is to positively impact the lives of those living with a spinal cord injury by providing necessary medical equipment, assistive devices, and aiding in the cost for physical therapy for those living with a spinal cord injury.” You can help support this worthy cause by buying a Project 34 shirt.

Torey Lovullo notes

Happy Birthday to Torey Lovullo today!

Carson Kelly and Ketel Marte’s saw live AB’s off Taylor Clarke yesterday at Chase as scheduled. Kelly had 6 at bats, Ketel had 5 at bats. Carson will play in Hillsboro tonight, Ketel in the Arizona Complex League tomorrow

Clarke will pitch in a B game Tuesday. It's a more controlled environment, as opposed to ACL game.

Luke Weaver has a bullpen Tuesday, will throw live AB’s later in week

Seth Frankoff will throw in an ACL game Tuesday

Daulton Varsho: Asked if he might have normally been off today but is in lineup due to his hot streak:

“He’s swinging the bat extremely well, and I know he’s been working hard for this. Today I know you’re thinking this is probably an example of one of those days he might be off. It’s a day game after a day game, he had the type of rest we need and he’s a very good centerfielder. I was looking for somebody to go out there on a day where I was going to maneuver on the lineup construction a little bit. He;s going to play because he’s one of our main catchers and he’s going to play outfield because he’’s a good baseball player. I don’t know what’s changed. He was getting these opportunities prior to this run that he’s on. It’s just a matter of him getting more and more comfortable and getting these at bats to getting one step closer to the exceptional player that we know that he is.”

Christian Walker: What have you seen from him lately:

Long Pause....followed by a deep sigh... “He has been... um.... taking good swings and making good passes on the ball. But the results have been a little bit inconsistent. Christian has spoiled us with a couple of very good years, and this year we know because of the injuries it’s been a little bit of a grind for him. He;’s hit some balls exceptionally well that he hasn’t had great luck... I don’t know what his expected slug is or what the data shows.”

NOTE: Walker is slugging .342 vs. expected Slug of .361, and has a .277 wOBA vs. expected wOBA of .295. So very slightly unlucky but even if getting the “expected” results it’s WAY below average.

I asked Torey if all the pitches up and in were getting in his head, but Torey didn’t really answer that quite directly. He spoke about zone data, etc, but didn’t address the core question.

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]