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D-backs’ Zack Godley quiets Cubs, leaves on career-best scoreless streak

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley delivers a pitch during the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
LISTEN: Jared Porter, Diamondbacks assistant general manager

In the heart of July, Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Godley put together his two worst performances of his 15 starts this season — at least in terms of earned runs allowed.

Godley allowed six runs to the Braves on July 16 and lasted 5.2 innings against the Nationals, allowing four earned runs.

The gritty right-hander has followed with two of his best performances of the season. His seven shutout frames last week against the Cardinals was followed on Wednesday night by six innings of three-hit, scoreless pitching in the D-backs’ 3-0 win over the Chicago Cubs.

The performance gave Arizona reason for relief after a 16-4 loss to Chicago a night prior and came against Jake Arrieta, who allowed two runs (one earned) in seven strong frames himself.

Godley’s performance set a career-long streak of 13 scoreless innings, and he retired the final 10 Cubs he faced.

“It’s the fastball command, attacking, getting ahead of hitters, some early-count outs, different shapes on the breaking ball. It’s a very interesting combination of pitches,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo told FOX Sports Arizona on Wednesday. “It looks like nobody’s very comfortable against him.”

The rest of the D-backs staff retired the following nine batters, and Jake Lamb recorded all three RBI for Arizona in the win.

As for Godley, he’s now allowed seven hits and walked four with 12 strikeouts in the last two games.

The righty’s rise has become a surprising storyline for the D-backs this season after they watched starter Shelby Miller recover from a disappointing 2016 only to find himself under the knife, undergoing Tommy John surgery less than a month into the 2017 season.

Godley was with Triple-A Reno to start the year.

“Zack, to his credit, has changed,” said D-backs assistant GM Jared Porter on Wednesday morning while visiting the Doug and Wolf show on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “He came into spring training as the fifth starter, maybe even competing for a bullpen role. We were able to identify, specifically, his curveball as being an elite pitch. That hard curveball — the spin on it, the velocity and the action it has makes it one of the better curveballs in the game.

“For him I think we were able to work with his pitch sequencing a lot and get him to buy in, his two catchers buy in to how they use his pitches and how they sequence them off each other,” Porter added. “And the hard work Zack’s put in, the tough makeup he has, you guys see it the way he runs on and off the field he kind of comes right at you; he’s put together a great season for us. He’s been huge.”

Godley’s curveball scores as the third-best of that pitch in MLB, per Fangraph’s pitch value scoring.

He’s thrown it 32.5-percent of the time heading into the game against the Cubs, and that rough percentage kept up Wednesday. Of his 96 pitches, 34 were curveballs, and seven of them were used to earn one of the 18 outs recorded by the D-backs on Godley’s watch.

Look at the swing percentages versus the contact percentages low in the zone for the curve, and it’s easy to see why it’s been a key factor in his success this year.

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