Both the Mets and the Diamondbacks got beat pretty thoroughly in their most recent games, and both enter the weekend looking to rebound from their worst stretch of the season. Arizona still sits in first place after losing seven of eight, but Colorado is beginning to close the gap. Much of their early success can be attributed to veteran contributions, and veterans comprise a large portion of this stats preview.
Greinke’s Velocity: After plenty of narrative during spring training about Zack Greinke’s velocity being down, his performance has not slipped. His 3.07 FIP and 1.50 DRA even suggest he has been better than his 3.46 ERA. His velocity has been down, though, as he has averaged just 89.4 mph compared to 91.0 mph in 2017. He has relied more heavily on his changeup as a result, throwing it nearly a quarter of the time. Batters are hitting groundballs on 72% of his changeups hit in play, a recipe for success at any velocity.
Goldschmidt’s Strikeouts: Paul Goldschmidt has not been his normal MVP-candidate self this year, and the season is far enough along that it may be okay to start worrying a little. Goldy’s BABIP of .304 is well below his career average of .352, so there is some hope for regression to the mean, but what is more concerning is his strikeout rate. At 30.2%, he is striking out nearly eight percentage points above his career average. He has been thrown more breaking pitches and is whiffing at a higher percentage of them, but the higher whiff rate is true for fastballs and offspeed too, so perhaps the issue is bigger than just breaking pitches.
Hirano’s Splitter: Yoshihisha Hirano is one of the newest members of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen after spending most of his career with the Orix Buffaloes in Japan. He has been a two-pitch pitcher for Arizona, and he throws the fastball and the splitter at roughly equal rates. The splitter is the more effective pitch, though, as batters have swung and missed at 19.6% of them (compared to 8.3% on the fastball). Batters have hit just 0.088 on the splitter, so watch out for the devastating pitch this weekend.
The Good: Christian Walker, recently recalled from Triple-A Reno, was two shy of the minor league home run crown in 2017 with 32. He could see playing time in the outfield in Pollock’s absence.
The Bad: Robbie Ray has only generated a 32.3% ground ball rate.
The Ugly: Arizona catchers have a combined slash line of .175/.283/.289.
At roughly the quarter mark in the season, the Mets’ playoff odds are down to 14.8% according to the BP Playoff Odds Report.
Photo credit: Joe Camporeale – USA Today Sports