The Diamondbacks had a pretty good road trip going before they ran into the buzzsaw that is Padres pitching. Yeah, buzzsaw. The Padres may have the worst pitching staff in baseball by a lot of measures, but the D-backs may see it differently. They faced Jhoulys Chacin on Wednesday night, then Clayton Richard on Thursday. They managed one run off each pitcher with Chacin throwing eight innings and Chacin pitching in six and two-thirds. The D-backs flailed against both despite neither pitcher being a marquee name.
So what happened?
First, it’s worth pointing out that both Chacin and Richard are veterans with plenty of expertise, even if they lack excellent pure stuff. It’s also worth acknowledging that Andy Green might know a thing or two about Diamondbacks hitters. Both pitchers had a clear game plan in mind and executed it well. That game plan was simple: keep the ball down.
Both pitchers kept the ball down and the Diamondbacks were seemingly helpless. There were very few pitches left up in the zone and neither pitcher made many mistakes. Instead, they executed their pitches down and the D-backs swung anyways. Take a look at which pitches were swung at by Arizona’s hitters:
Sure, the D-backs swung at the pitches they saw up in the zone, but there were precious few opportunities. But notice the number of swings that were taken on pitches out of the zone, especially those below the zone. Hitters remained aggressive despite the location of pitches and played right into the Padres’ hands.
So chalk one, or I guess two, up for the Padres and their game plan. They executed it well. The D-backs, meanwhile, need to be more patient on balls low because there were certainly plenty and the team could have let more pitches go, getting on base via walks and/or forcing Chacin and Richard to come over the plate. Other teams will take this approach when they can and it’ll be up to the Diamondbacks to adjust.
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FanGraphs Stats Glossary
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Previously on The Pool Shot, the guys explained some of their favorite advanced stats. Hitting, including wRC+, HHAV and batted ball; pitching (38:00), including FIP, xFIP and SIERA; and baserunning and defense, including UBR, UZR and DRS (58:00).