The Arizona Diamondbacks go for a series sweep of the defending American League champion Cleveland Indians Sunday afternoon at Chase Field
Is it time to the Arizona Diamondbacks seriously in the National League West? Before the 2016 season started, the Snakes were a trendy pick to make the playoffs.
But, A.J. Pollock got injured before Opening Day, and injuries and underperformance ultimately led to a 69 win season. Former manager Chip Hale and former general manager Dave Stewart were fired, and a new regime led by general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo brought a mix of analytics and traditional baseball scouting.
This team might have almost the same personal, but the new additions are paying off and the mindset seems different. The win-loss total speaks to that change; yes, six games do not determine a team’s ultimate result, but a great start is always nice.
Last year, the most games Arizona was over .500 was one on April 25. They have already surpassed that total, starting the season 5-1. Nobody wanted to give this team a chance in 2017, but after just one week, many are beginning to rethink that.
The Diamondbacks have a chance to leap ahead of their competition in April; so far so good. Arizona and the Colorado Rockies are tied for first, two games ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, and four games ahead of the 1-5 San Francisco Giants.
The starting rotation’s ERA has improved (4.17) and the Diamondbacks, who won just 33 games at home last year, have already won five. Lovullo has pushed all the right buttons and this team is playing as a team.
There is still room for improvement, but this team is playing big-league level baseball against great competition. Hopefully, they carry the momentum into California for a nine-game road trip with the Giants, Dodgers and Padres.
What: Indians (3-2) at Diamondbacks (5-1)
When: 1:10 p.m.
Where: Chase Field
Pitching Matchup: RHP Corey Kluber (0-0, 7.50 ERA) vs. LHP Patrick Corbin (0-1, 4.50 ERA)
TV/Radio: FSAZ/ESPN Phoenix 620 AM/KHOV 105.1 FM
Weather: 78 degrees, partly cloudy expected at first pitch, with 6 mph winds from the southwest.
Patrick Corbin makes his second start of 2017, looking to set the tone for a Diamondbacks sweep. If he is to help get the brooms out, the Diamondbacks left-hander will have to thrower fewer pitches per inning.
Corbin wants to start, but he has to last more than four innings. He will have his hands full against arguably the deepest lineup in the American League. On most nights, manager Terry Francona will pencil in back-to-back switch hitters in the leadoff and two spots. That is scary for any pitcher.
Corbin limited the damage to three runs (two earned) but he taxed the bullpen and the Giants handed the Snakes their only loss. He threw a lot of strikes, but a 33 pitch second inning will derail any starter.
More from Venom Strikes
- Happy Thanksgiving Diamondbacks Fans! We have lots to be thankful for!
- The perfect holiday gifts for the Arizona Diamondbacks fan
- Diamondbacks make some BIG 40-man roster Moves
- About time! Diamondbacks to now provide housing for Minor League players
- What is the Rule 5 Draft? How does it impact Diamondbacks?
If he can establish fastball command and then place his slider to the back foot of lefties and throw a mix of sinkers, change ups and sliders to righties, he will have sucess.
Corbin has never pitched against the Indians. Edwin Encarnacion has five career at-bats against Corbin with no hits. Veteran Austin Jackson has three career at-bats with no hits.
Corey Kluber could not command his stuff on Opening Day in Arlington, Texas. He gave up three home runs and walked three in six innings giving up five runs. Kluber features a sinking fastball and an elite curve ball.
When right, Kluber jams lefties inside with a cutter. Pitch F/X registers the pitch as a slider, but it acts more like a cut-fastball. He will also throw a change up. Against right handed hitters last season, Kluber featured his sinker 54 percent of the time.
Kluber finished third in A.L. CY Young voting last season and won the award in 2014. He faced Arizona in June 2014 at Chase Field and tossed seven shutout innings.
"Arizona Diamondbacks: Shelby Miller uses curve effectively, gains win"
Players to Watch:
Chris Herrmann: Herrmann is starting today and has had success against Kluber. In 14 career at-bats, he has four hits (.286) with 2 RBI.
Brandon Guyer: Guyer is starting in place of Michael Brantley. He is batting third because of his career numbers off lefties. He is a .289 career hitter against southpaws, compared to a .236 average against righties.