How weather may or may not impact the D-backs’ pitching plans down the stretch
Sep 23, 2023, 11:46 AM
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
This weekend of Arizona Diamondbacks baseball is in jeopardy.
Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium was already postponed to Monday, but rain from Tropical Storm Ophelia remains prominently in the forecast in the Bronx on Sunday.
For the time being, Arizona has games scheduled for Sunday and Monday against the Yankees, while their series at the Chicago White Sox was pushed back to Tuesday-Thursday. The D-backs’ final series of the regular season, against the Houston Astros, begins Friday at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks have carefully mapped out Zac Gallen’s and Merrill Kelly’s starts over the final month and change of the campaign with a playoff berth in sight. They entered Saturday with the second NL Wild Card spot, but 2.5 games separated four teams.
Thursday’s off day allowed them to start Gallen Sunday in New York and Kelly Monday in Chicago. The two can still throw on those days, but more rain on Sunday would force the D-backs to adjust.
“We want to have our main guys Merrill and Zac throwing as many games as possible with an eye on how the season will finish and hopefully beyond, we got to be aware of that, as well,” manager Torey Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday.
Zach Davies was initially slated for Saturday.
When will Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly pitch?
If the Yankees series concludes with a doubleheader on Monday, Gallen and Kelly may be in line to pitch on the same day.
In that case, the duo would only be able to throw the final two games of the season against Houston on normal rest. Reminder, the NL Wild Card Series is a best-of-three at the ballpark of the higher seed and it starts Tuesday, Oct. 3.
“We will have Gallen and Kelly available in that first (playoff) series,” Lovullo said. “But maybe not in Game 1. We got to get there first, we need to go full throttle with the boys and make sure that we get there first. And once we get there, we’ll make some adjustments.”
If Gallen and Kelly pitch on the final Saturday and Sunday, respectively, they would be on short rest in the wild card round in Games 2 and 3, and Game 3 is not guaranteed. The D-backs have to get there, of course, but playing on Sunday in New York gives them more flexibility with the rotation.
Rain persisting on Monday in New York would throw the schedule in a blender, but the forecast says precipitation will lighten up Monday morning, according to the Weather Channel.
The three White Sox games could be started by a combination of Brandon Pfaadt, Davies, Ryne Nelson, Slade Cecconi or an opener. Davies and Nelson would be on extended rest.
Another impact of the rain would be on the bullpen.
Now there is no day off to reset the group, which Lovullo has leaned on for heavy innings recently. Rain on Sunday would potentially force the D-backs to play eight games in seven days ahead of the postseason.