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D-backs Preview #149: 9/19 @ Astros

The D-backs bullpen set an unwanted record this series. But it’s partly a result of them being very busy.

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

Josh Rojas - SS Jose Altuve - 2B
Ketel Marte - 2B Aledmys Diaz - 1B
David Peralta - LF Alex Bregman - 3B
Kole Calhoun - DH Yordan Alvarez - DH
Carson Kelly - C Carlos Correa - SS
Daulton Varsho - CF Kyle Tucker - RF
Christian Walker - 1B Chas McCormick - LF
Pavin Smith - RF Jake Meyers - CF
Josh VanMeter - 3B Martin Maldonado - C
Zac Gallen - RHP Zack Greinke - RHP

Roster moves

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the following roster moves:

  • Selected INF/OF Ildemaro Vargas from Triple-A Reno.
  • Designated RHP Jake Faria for assignment.

As I mentioned on Twitter on Friday, that game was the Diamondbacks’ 36th relief loss of the year [Trivia: can you name the 19 different relievers with an L on their record? Answer at the end]. That set a new franchise record, beating the previous worst of 35, set in 2018. They even appear to have a shot at the all-time major-league record. Coincidentally, that was set by our current opponents, the Astros, whose bullpen lost 40 games in 2013. The D-backs’ current pace is almost on that, so it could go to the wire. Part of the reason is simply that they’ve pitched more than ever before. This year’s crew is currently on pace to become the first bullpen in franchise history to throw 600 innings in a season.

Just a few seasons ago, having your relievers throw that much was almost unthinkable. Through 2016, only two teams reached 600 relief innings. There were two more in 2017, but then eight in 2018 and almost half the league in the last full season, 2019: fourteen. This year, it will likely be more than half: going into play yesterday, 17 teams were on pace to reach 600 innings from their bullpen by the end of the year. Three (the Padres, Orioles and, unsurprisingly, the Rays) were already there, with more than two weeks left. More innings = more potential losses. That said: the 2021 Diamondbacks’ bullpen ERA of 5.21 is currently the team’s highest since 2010. This is, to state the obvious, not exactly helping...

Torey Lovullo notes

Monday Starter is still TBA but Luis Frias is still definitely slated to be used out of the bullpen

Ildemaro Vargas recalled because Torey indicated they were a little thin in the infield. He said he didn’t specifically advocate for Vargas, but that he and front office talked about being thin on the dirt and the front office is responsive to what’s happening

30 year Christian Walker is in the lineup for the 3rd straight game vs. Greinke instead of Jake McCarthy. This will be Walker’s 10th start in September, vs. 7 for McCarthy and 7 for Smith. I asked Torey if this was counter to the stated goal the team has outlined regarding evaluating younger players. Torey’s response was that

  • He feels Christian has been swinging the bat a little bit better. [Hard to see that! .627 OPS in September, 13 K in 41 PA, and a bunch of them the last two nights]
  • It’s based on Matchups and probabilities. [It’s a fair point perhaps. Since going to the Astros in August 2019, Greinke has a .249 wOBA against and a 3.14 FIP vs Left hand batters and a .336 wOBA and 4.61 FIP vs. RHB.]
  • Christian needs to be evaluated further as well [I think we should have a pretty good idea by now]

Dave McKay did not accompany the team to Houston and went back to Phoenix. It was out of caution and to get him evaluated. Sounds like he was getting worn down on the trip.

Nick Ahmed is a little banged up with typical late season aches and pains and needed another day off.

Torey Lovullo audio [or link]

Trivia answer: The 19 different pitchers to have lost a game in relief for the D-backs this year are: Alex Young (5), Joakim Soria (4), Stefan Crichton (4), Taylor Clarke (3), Joe Mantiply (2), Matt Peacock (2), Brett de Geus (2), Ryan Buchter (2), J.B. Bukauskas (2), Tyler Gilbert (1), Caleb Smith (1), Tyler Clippard (1), Humberto Castellanos (1), Noe Ramirez (1), J.B. Wendelken (1), Jordan Weems (1), Kevin Ginkel (1), Miguel Aguilar (1) and Anthony Swarzak (1).