D-backs notebook: All hands on deck, Greinke’s catcher, injury updates
PHOENIX – With a 162-game season decided by a one-game playoff, the Arizona Diamondbacks are keeping all of their options open when it comes to finalizing the 25-man roster.
One of the first decisions to be made is whether the D-backs will carry nine or ten pitchers into Wednesday’s National League Wild Card Game against the Colorado Rockies.
“What I’m planning on doing is walking through some scenarios with the staff and the front office and just have us bounce a lot of different things off of one another to where no situation will catch us by surprise,” manager Torey Lovullo said Monday, prior to the D-backs workout at Chase Field, “and that will help us understand where there might be a soft spot and we might have a need for an extra pitcher or maybe have a need for an extra position player.”
On the pitching front, this much is known: Right-hander Zack Greinke will start the game, and should the D-backs be in a position to win, then Archie Bradley and Fernando Rodney figure to resume their regular-season roles in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively.
The question is what the D-backs do in-between, especially if Greinke struggles.
If the latter happens, then Lovullo may turn to one, or more, of his other starters; though pitching out of the bullpen versus pitching to begin a game is not an easy adjustment.
“It’s still pitching, it’s still something we’ve done,” said Patrick Corbin, who threw 2.2 innings in relief of Greinke last Friday in Kansas City. “I think everybody knowing the situation of the game — guys are going to be ready so whether it’s Robbie, myself or Godley or Taijuan, as a starter, we’d be ready to go.”
Corbin and fellow right-hander Zack Godley have the most experience working out of the bullpen. And while Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker have both done it, neither have made that mid-game walk from the outfield since 2014.
The D-backs may look to save Ray until the next round and a matchup with the rival Dodgers in the National League Division Series. Of course, that never happens if the D-backs don’t first take care of business against the Rockies.
“If that’s the case,” Godley said, referring a possible post-season bullpen role, “then I’m going to approach it the same way I always have and continue to try and go out there and get guys out.”
Undecided on a catcher
Another important decision facing the D-backs and Lovullo is who will be behind the plate to catch Greinke’s postseason start.
It’s been Jeff Mathis for much of the year, but he only just returned from a stint on the disabled list due to fractured right hand. In his absence, Chris Iannetta caught Greinke’s last seven outings.
“We feel like we have two qualified guys with Chris Iannetta and Jeff. They’ve caught Zack and caught him well, Lovullo said. “Once again, it will come down to what I feel gives us the best chance to win the game.”
Over the weekend in Kansas City, Mathis caught a combined nine innings in what was his first action behind the plate since Aug. 21.
“Really happy I was able to get in those games in K.C. and come out of them OK,” he said. “That was a big thing for me mentally just as much as physically so happy with where I’m at. Hopefully keep going in the right direction and see what happens on Wednesday.”
Just a hiccup for Paul Goldschmidt
You want to be playing your best ball going into the playoffs, and right now, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is not, at least not with a bat in his hand.
Goldschmidt finished the season with just one hit in 21 at-bats in his last six games. Zoom out, and in the month of September, he batted .171 (14-for-82) with 25 strikeouts in 22 games.
Asked about the D-backs MVP candidate, Lovullo called Goldschmidt’s struggles a “little hiccup.”
“I’m not concerned about it at all, I don’t think he is either,” Lovullo said. “I think that he’s been grinding away at it. We know that it hasn’t been as productive over the past couple weeks because he’s such a catalyst for this team and this organization. When your superstar doesn’t hit, it’s recognizable.”
Injured players progressing
Factoring in the D-backs’ roster plans is the health of several players.
Shortstop Ketel Marte exited Sunday’s game after experiencing some tightness in his left hamstring while running to first base in the sixth inning. Though still feeling some discomfort, Marte said, “I think I’m going to be ready for Wednesday.”
Both outfielder David Peralta and infielder Rey Fuentes dealt with some back issues in Kansas City. Neither expressed any concern about not playing in the wild card game, however.
And reliever Jimmie Sherfy threw a bullpen session on Monday. He has not pitched since Sept. 24 after his left triceps tightened up on him. An MRI showed only inflammation and Sherfy received a cortisone shot.
“We feel very comfortable that they’re (all) going to be OK,” Lovullo said.
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