Torey Lovullo: Arizona Diamondbacks pushed, went as far as they could
The Arizona Diamondbacks season boils down to one thing — they just ran out of gas.
Manager Torey Lovullo agreed with Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports Station on Tuesday that the team lost its momentum during the September series against the New York Mets and Cincinnati Reds where they lost seven of ten games amidst the heat of the NL Wild Card race.
“We pushed. We went as hard as we could for as long as we could. You’re right, I think we did run out of a little bit of steam,” Lovullo said. “The thing that really makes me the most proud of these guys is we had a chance to stop right there and say we’re out of the race, but our guys fought.”
Even after the team was mathematically eliminated from the playoffs Sept. 23, the D-backs rattled off five consecutive wins to bring their season win total to 85, three more than the 2018 season.
“With all things considered, the changeover, the uncertainty, the unknowns, creating a new culture, add in culture I’m very pleased with how it went,” Lovullo said.
“I don’t want anybody to think that me, Mike Hazen, or the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to sit tight and be satisfied with 85 wins,” Lovullo added. “I look up there where there’s one banner, I want to hang more than one. I want to hang four or five.”
Heading into the offseason, one of the biggest questions about the D-backs is what the starting rotation will look like next year.
Lovullo said there are no guarantees about who’s in and who’s out of the starting rotation.
“The starting five that starts the year it might not be the same throughout the course of the year, but I want everybody to be ready,” Lovullo said.
The D-backs dipped into the farm system more than they would’ve liked, Lovullo mentioned, but it’s good to have depth when they use eight or nine different pitchers in their starting rotation.
For 2020, the team will have Taijuan Walker and Luke Weaver back after both missed time this season rehabbing from injury.
Throughout the year, Robbie Ray and Zac Gallen proved they provide value to the rotation. Additionally, rookies Taylor Clarke, Alex Young and Merrill Kelly proved they could contribute as well.
Lovullo told his players before the end of the season that nobody should come in complacent.
“We had one on ones with all of the players and that’s what I explained to them, I said I don’t want anybody coming in here thinking they have anything sewed up,” Lovullo said.
“You better enjoy a few days, a few months, a few weeks, whatever it is to recharge your batteries but when it’s time… you come in here ready to earn a spot.”
The D-backs also made a change at pitching coach on Tuesday, opting to part ways with four-year coach Mike Butcher.
“There were some philosophical differences,” Lovullo said. Maybe there was a little old-school, new-school dealing with the players that was some of the highlight, but I haven’t had a chance to connect with Mike Butcher. I promised him that he would be the first one that I explained in detail what those philosophical differences were.”
Lovullo said the decision wasn’t something that he flipped a coin on. He’s known Butcher for almost 30-years and he didn’t take the decision lightly. In the meantime, he said the change will help them improve the pitching for the 2020 season.