NLDS Game 1 lineups: Diamondbacks vs. Brewers

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Here are the lineups for Game 1 of the NLDS between the Diamondbacks and Brewers this afternoon:

  ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS           MILWAUKEE BREWERS
1. Willie Bloomquist, SS       1. Corey Hart, RF
2. Aaron Hill, 2B              2. Nyjer Morgan, CF
3. Justin Upton, RF            3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Miguel Montero, C           4. Prince Fielder, 1B
5. Chris Young, CF             5. Rickie Weeks, 2B
6. Lyle Overbay, 1B            6. Jerry Hairston Jr., 3B
7. Ryan Roberts, 3B            7. Yuniesky Betancourt, SS
8. Gerardo Parra, LF           8. Jonathan Lucroy, C
9. Ian Kennedy, SP             9. Yovani Gallardo, SP

The major thing of note here is that Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson went with the veteran Lyle Overbay over the rookie Paul Goldschmidt at first base. Left-handed batters have hit Gallardo slightly better than righties this season, but not by much, so perhaps Overbay is getting the nod because of his past experience at Miller Park as a member of the Brewers.

As for the Brewers, Jerry Hairston Jr. will make the start over Casey McGehee at third, something I figured would happen in our series preview earlier this week. McGehee batted just .223/.280/.346 with 13 homers and a .627 OPS this season, including a .132 batting average in September, so it’s not a big shock to see him on the bench. However, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel notes, chances are we’ll see lineup for Game 2. While not a big sample size, McGehee is 5-for-5 with a double and a homer lifetime against Daniel Hudson.

I’ll be live blogging this game once it gets underway at about 2 p.m. ET, so stay tuned.


			

No one pounds the zone anymore

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“Work fast and throw strikes” has long been the top conventional wisdom for those preaching pitching success. The “work fast” part of that has increasingly gone by the wayside, however, as pitchers take more and more time to throw pitches in an effort to max out their effort and, thus, their velocity with each pitch.

Now, as Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer reports, the “throw strikes” part of it is going out of style too:

Pitchers are throwing fewer pitches inside the strike zone than ever previously recorded . . . A decade ago, more than half of all pitches ended up in the strike zone. Today, that rate has fallen below 47 percent.

There are a couple of reasons for this. Most notable among them, Lindbergh says, being pitchers’ increasing reliance on curves, sliders and splitters as primary pitches, with said pitches not being in the zone by design. Lindbergh doesn’t mention it, but I’d guess that an increased emphasis on catchers’ framing plays a role too, with teams increasingly selecting for catchers who can turn balls that are actually out of the zone into strikes. If you have one of those beasts, why bother throwing something directly over the plate?

There is an unintended downside to all of this: a lack of action. As Lindbergh notes — and as you’ve not doubt noticed while watching games — there are more walks and strikeouts, there is more weak contact from guys chasing bad pitches and, as a result, games and at bats are going longer.

As always, such insights are interesting. As is so often the case these days, however, such insights serve as an unpleasant reminder of why the on-field product is so unsatisfying in so many ways in recent years.