D-backs starting pitching stays hot, Henry’s first W takes down Pirates
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks’ starting pitching has been on fire since the All-Star break.
Entering play on Tuesday, D-backs starters were tied for fifth in ERA (3.09) and WHIP (1.12) across those two-plus weeks, per Fangraphs.
Those numbers will improve after a 6-4 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates, a victory that was the first of Tommy Henry’s MLB career and one that sets a high bar going forward.
“It’s not a secret recipe. When we get good starting pitching, we give ourselves a very good chance of winning the baseball game and Tommy was fantastic tonight,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
The 25-year-old threw 7.0 innings of one-run ball, giving up four hits and two walks with three strikeouts.
Henry’s debut on Aug. 1 against the Cleveland Guardians featured a shaky opening two innings before the lefty settled down a bit but he didn’t need any time on Tuesday to find a rhythm.
“I’d say pretty significantly different,” Henry said of how he felt compared to his first go in the majors. “I felt like I could breathe a little bit today, settle in a bit today.”
He got through the first two innings in 18 pitches, and after doubling that count in the third for a total of 36 through three innings that is still pretty darn great, Henry only needed 24 the next two innings to be through a scoreless five on just 60 pitches.
If you’re looking for the math to check out on that, Henry’s first eight batters had at-bats lasting three pitches or less and he had a six-pitch fifth inning across three at-bats that just required two apiece.
“I think the bottom line is three pitches or less, that’s what we’re aiming for,” Lovullo said.
Pitching coach Brent Strom worked with Henry on his secondary pitchers in-between starts, an area where Henry got terrific results.
Henry also did a great job of not putting himself in any jams by allowing all five of the Pirates’ baserunners through five innings to reach when there were two outs. Only one would find themselves in scoring position.
A sixth-inning solo homer by Pittsburgh’s Michael Chavis (with two outs of course) was all the Pirates mustered off the rookie out of the University of Michigan.
Arizona’s relievers aren’t that far behind the starters, with a 2.79 ERA and 1.12 WHIP after the break that ranked eighth prior to Tuesday’s action.
That theme, however, was not as persistent.
Chris Devenski’s three earned runs in the eighth inning turned a 6-1 scoreline back into a ball game.
Fortunately for the D-backs, it was indeed a five-run cushion, and Mark Melancon took care of the ninth for his 16th save of the year.
Melancon got the ball in a save situation for the second time since Lovullo changed to a closer by committee stance on Friday. Conveniently, four of the five games after that have had a save opportunity, and Melancon’s now at 2-for-2 to match the same mark for Ian Kennedy. The difference is Kennedy came in for a 2-2 tie in the ninth inning on Saturday and earned the loss.
All six of Arizona’s runs came via RBI singles. Christian Walker’s in the first inning and Jake McCarthy’s two innings later each brought home a run before the two-run variety from Ketel Marte and McCarthy blew the game open in the seventh.