The D-Backs Have Something to Prove Against Stephen Strasburg on Friday

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The Arizona Diamondbacks offense has struggled against power pitchers this season, and they will square off with Stephen Strasburg on Friday night in Washington D.C.

A lot has gone the Arizona Diamondbacks’ way this season. When you become the first team since the 2001 Seattle Mariners, who won 116 games, and the first National League team since the 1977 Los Angeles Dodgers to win eight straight series, it is hard to point out flaws because they appear so miniature in the grand scheme of things.

But like any professional sports team, there are areas where the D-Backs can improve. Just ask Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, but that conversation is for a different article.

While the offense has still managed to score the sixth-most runs in the NL (114) despite a pedestrian .230 batting average, the D-Backs have struggled mightily against power pitches this season, according to Baseball Reference. This is how they define the difference between a power and a finesse pitcher.

Power pitchers are in the top third of the league in strikeouts plus walks. Finesse are in the bottom third of the league in strikeouts plus walks. Stats are based on the three years before and after (when available), and the season for when the split is computed.

Behind the Numbers

Baseball Reference also includes team and player splits against both types of pitchers. Here are the D-Backs splits:

As you can tell, the Diamondbacks have struck out a lot against power arms, compared to only 26 walks. The team’s overall batting average of .230 has a lot to do with a .166 average against power pitchers, and a much lower on base percentage and OPS suggests they are not making enough contact. The home run numbers against power and finesse are similar but 21 more RBIs against finesse pitchers suggests the players are executing in run scoring situations better against the latter.

Here is how each D-Backs hitter has done against power pitchers:

It is not like the power pitchers the D-Backs have faced this season have located every fastball on the corner. Hitters have swung and miss at belt high fastballs in critical situations too many times. This has happened in hitters counts, when everybody in the ballpark knows a fastball is coming.

This season, Strasburg is throwing his four-seam fastball almost half the time (46 percent). Even in an 0-2 or 1-2 count, he still throws a lot of heaters. It is 95-96 mph with very little movement. The hitter knows what is coming and yet, they still miss often.

If the D-Backs want to have success against Strasburg, they can not miss early-count fastballs, and when he throws a hittable fastball after getting ahead, make him pay. That is a good recipe for success, not only against Strasburg, but any power pitcher.

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