Arizona Diamondbacks: Structuring for the stetch run

The Diamondbacks hope for positive experiences in the second half. (Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images)
The Diamondbacks hope for positive experiences in the second half. (Jennifer Stewart / Getty Images) /

The Arizona Diamondbacks prepare for the second half drive toward post-season play.

One of the hallmarks of this Arizona Diamondbacks club is the ability to accumulate information and process data. In an era of analysis and sabermetrics, general manager Mike Hazen and his staff pride itself in the acute treatment of numbers toward the betterment of success.

While not looking too far into the future, these figures track trends, developments and propensity in relation to player tendency. Still, there is the temptation to forecast, based on data, and project into the future.

As the Diamondbacks, and major league baseball, approach the All-Star break, there has been slight movement in this direction. During spring training, field manager Torey Lovullo spaced out Zack Greinke to allow the proper fusion of rest and work and set up his ace for opening day. Now at the All-Star break, the words “August” and “September” have crept into the Diamondbacks vocabulary.

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Coming into play Sunday, the Diamondbacks held 6.5 game lead on the Chicago Cubs, who trail Arizona and the Colorado Rockies in the National League wild card chase. Given the way the Los Angeles Dodgers have performed over the first half of the season, catching L. A. will be nearly impossible. If that’s the case, Lovullo could be excused for structuring his team for that one Wild Card game, likely against the Rockies.

As his team heads into the critical second half of the season, Lovullo could be thinking how his pitching rotation shapes. In the past few weeks, Lovullo has referenced August and September relative to having A. J. Pollock healthy at the most important time of the season. At the same time, he could begin to think about structing his rotation.

Telling Venom Strikes before Sunday’s home game with Cincinnati, Lovullo said that his starting pitching “has set the tone for the season.” At the same time, he is holding All-Stars Robbie Ray and Greinke out of the first series out of the break. Going forward, Lovullo discounts long-term planning to structure Ray and Greinke pitching in important August and September games.

"“Am I thinking about August at this point?” he asked rhetorically. “No. We do plan out and right now, I’m thinking 10 to 14 days out. I don’t look too far in advance, and try to do a good job of balancing things.”"

In early August, the Diamondbacks face the Dodgers, Cubs and Astros in an eight-game stretch and all of these games are at home. At the same time, the Dodgers visit Chase Field for six games in August.  By most accounts, the schedule could be meaningless. By defeating Kansas City Saturday, the Dodgers reached 60 wins on the season and on the verge playing .700 baseball. At this point, that runaway train seems on track to reach faster acceleration.

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Through Lovullo’s communication and guidance, the Diamondbacks will try and keep pace, but the challenge is difficult. At this point, Lovullo can continue to plan for the future and arrange his team for a possible one-game, Wild Card showdown in early October.