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D-backs Preview #128: 8/25 @ Pirates

Tyler Gilbert starts for the D-backs as they try to avoid a sweep.

Arizona Diamondbacks v Colorado Rockies Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Rojas - SS Michael Chavis - 2B
Ketel Marte - CF Ke'Bryan Hayes - 3B
Pavin Smith - RF Bryan Reynolds - CF
Christian Walker - 1B Yoshi Tsutsugo - 1B
Josh VanMeter - 2B Jacob Stallings - C
David Peralta - LF Kevin Newman - SS
Daulton Varsho - C Gregory Polanco - RF
Drew Ellis - 3B Anthony Alford - LF
Tyler Gilbert - LHP Bryse Wilson - RHP

Some more thoughts on starter usage. As we mentioned last week, the D-backs have blown away the previous franchise high for starting pitchers used in a season. Before this year, the most was 12. But Humberto Castellano was the sixteenth starter for Arizona in 2021. That ranks only fourth in the NL, behind the Dodgers, Mets and Marlins. All three will be at 18, after Edward Cabrera makes his MLB debut for Miami in a couple of hours. But across the majors, that has been the trend. The number of starting pitchers to see action has set a new record every full season since 2017, when 313 were used. Just two years later, the 2019 number reached 368, a 17.6% increase.

It is a recent development: as recently as 2014, there were only 289 used. But this season may well see another new record, with 347 different men already taking the mound. That figure trails only 2019, and we have not even reached roster expansion in September yet. It seems likely another new record will be set. But it is possible the single team mark may be safe. That belongs to the 1915 Philadelphia Athletics, who had twenty-four different starters - and that, in only a 154-game schedule. More than half (13) started just once, and they also had Bruno Haas, who set an AL record by walking sixteen batters in one game. Unsurprisingly, the A’s went 43-109-2, dropping from first to last in the league.

Torey Lovullo notes

  • Since Josh Rojas has come back on August 10th the playing time split between over and under age 30 veterans has been roughly 60/40, and while not in lineup today Asdrubal Cabrera for example has started 11 of the last 14 games.

Do you feel like that level of split is consistent with the desire to get more playing time and more evaluation time for the younger players ?

  • Fair question. I’m looking to change that a little bit. I’m looking to change that percentage first by having the conversation with the veterans and letting them know what’s going on, and then allowing the younger players to go out there and get the increased workload. I think there’s a method to that. I might have my own personal beliefs, I think rather than just totally jump the shark and flip it all in one day I think there’s a gradual buildup that’s necessary for a young player to continue learning at the right pace. I think we’re ready to take it to the next level in a couple different situations.
  • Merrill Kelly has been cleared to resume baseball activities. But he will need time to rebuild strength. Torey has mentioned the “1 for 1” scenario for figuring how many days missed vs. how many days to make it back. Merrill last pitched in a game August 11th, 14 days ago. So based on those comments it’s reasonable to assume it could be as much as two weeks before Merrill is pitching in an MLB game again, although it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s a little sooner than that.
  • Luke Weaver is still a couple of days away from getting cleared, and he will require at least one live batters throwing situation, and perhaps another rehab outing before returning to MLB action.
  • Team Vaccination Rate: Torey said that since the Pfizer vaccine has received full FDA approval there are a couple of unvaccinated players that have expressed a higher comfort level with getting the vaccine.
  • Tyler Gilbert has had a chance to take a deep breath from the whirlwind that preceded his last start, and with the team on the road it has probably helped him to settle down a bit. The organization will step back from the outlier nature of his accomplishment and results when conducting due diligence evaluation of him for the rest of this season.

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]