Diamondbacks-Phillies pregame notes: Lovullo explains roster moves, Moreno starts
Oct 16, 2023, 4:40 PM
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PHILADELPHIA — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo went through his team’s NLCS roster before Game 1 against the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.
The D-backs opted for 13 pitchers after carrying 12 in the opening two rounds, and third baseman Jace Peterson was left off for pitcher Slade Cecconi.
“We’re going to play potentially seven games in nine days, we need a little more coverage coming out of the bullpen,” manager Torey Lovullo said before Game 1 on Monday. “We haven’t talked about a starter for Game 4. I haven’t even given you Game 3 yet. We just felt like to give us a little bit of coverage in any type of situation.”
Brandon Pfaadt is in line to start a game after Zac Gallen in Game 1 and Merrill Kelly in Game 2. Lovullo said he’d like a starter for Game 4, and Cecconi enters the fray as an option along with Ryne Nelson.
Cecconi made the cut over right-hander Bryce Jarvis, who made the wild card series roster but not the NLDS. He was optioned to Triple-A Reno on Sept. 25 for the second time this season.
“To be honest with you, had Slade been eligible — he was still in the middle of his 15 days after the late call-up and send-down, so that was a very strong reason as to why he wasn’t considered earlier,” Lovullo said.
“Bryce and Slade are very similar types of guys. They pound the zone. They’ve got great shape to their pitches. We just felt like Slade was going to give us the best opportunity to win some innings.”
Tommy Henry (elbow) was not added to the roster after pitching in Arizona’s scrimmage on Friday. He missed the final two months of the regular season on the injured list.
Jace Peterson cut and Evan Longoria’s increased role
As for Peterson, Lovullo felt the position was covered with Evan Longoria and Emmanuel Rivera while acknowledging he has not use much of his bench this postseason.
Peterson has one playoff at-bat this year after he replaced outfielder Jake McCarthy (oblique) before the wild card round.
Longoria, 38, has started all five playoff games after performing in a platoon role during the regular season. Lovullo said he’ll manage Longoria’s workload on a read-and-react basis.
“I just like the presence. I like the heartbeat. I like the calmness, especially in an environment like we’re expecting today,” Lovullo said. “What does it mean going forward as far as games played, total games played, I don’t have that number. It’s going to probably be determined on how he feels and what he is giving me.”
Lovullo said on Sunday the D-backs were in a good spot health-wise.
The biggest question entering the NLCS was catcher Gabriel Moreno, but he was back in Monday’s lineup and batting fifth. He exited Wednesday’s series finale against the Dodgers with a hand contusion, but he took batting practice on Sunday and said he felt good.
“This is time of the year where everybody is banged up,” Lovullo said on Sunday. “Everybody has aches and pains. This team is ready to go, as healthy as we can be.”
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The Phillies have the best bullpen ERA in the playoffs at 1.57. There is a lot of juice within that unit, both with lefties and righties. Lefty Gregory Soto averages 99 mph on his fastball, while righties Jeff Hoffman and Seranthony Dominguez are not far behind.
“They average 96 mph-plus coming out of that bullpen,” Lovullo said. “We know what that shape is going to look like. It’s about the preparedness.”
D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll was asked specifically about southpaw Jose Alvarado, who held lefties to a .522 OPS this season.
“I would say something that stands out is how hard a lot of those guys throw back there,” Carroll said. “But at the end of the day, I think you try to group those guys into buckets and take some experiences from at-bats off guys that you might feel are similar to him, any trends that you noticed or cues that worked for you and try and take those and kind of apply them.”
Handling the layoff
Both the D-backs and Phillies dealt with time off between the end of the NLDS and Monday. Arizona last played on Wednesday, but Longoria maintained the club kept its focus during workouts.
“I know a lot has been made this postseason about teams having layoffs and the potential for a fall-off in performance or whatever,” Longoria said. “It hasn’t even been something that we’ve talked about as a group. … I think it gave some guys a much-needed blow.”
Carroll said he put in work seeing the velocity machine, and getting reps off live pitching on Friday at Chase Field helped.
First pitch from Citizens Bank Park is at 6:07 p.m. on 98.7 and the Arizona Sports app.