In long season, short starts a concern

Nelson goes 5 innings in loss to Royals, adding to bullpen's workload

April 26th, 2023

PHOENIX -- When describing right-hander ’s start Tuesday night against the Royals, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said it was a fistfight.

That feels like how it has been for each of the starters the last couple of times through the rotation, with the exception of and one of ’s outings. The short starts are putting pressure on the bullpen early in the season.

During the D-backs’ 5-4 loss at Chase Field, Nelson labored through a 27-pitch first inning in which he allowed three hits. While the three singles were hit hard, to Nelson’s credit, he limited the damage to one run and found a way to get through five innings.

Still, when Nelson’s night was done, the Royals led, 4-1.

“I felt like I was throwing the ball OK,” Nelson said. “I just didn’t make big pitches when I needed to. And I left some stuff up, and they strung a lot of hits today.”

went 4 1/3 innings Monday in the series opener, and the D-backs were put in a bind Sunday, when starter lasted just one inning.

Jameson was demoted to Triple-A Reno following that game.

“I thought it was a little bit of a fistfight all day,” Lovullo said of Nelson. “He was battling the command of secondary stuff. I thought he got into a good rhythm with his fastball. When he spotted up, I thought he was in charge of the at-bat.”

After five innings, Nelson was sitting at 83 pitches. Lovullo said the right-hander had another 18 or so pitches that he could have thrown, but because of all the hits, the Royals were getting ready to see him for the fourth time around the order and the numbers were not in his favor. So Lovullo went to the bullpen.

“I think it's taken its toll on the bullpen a little bit,” Lovullo said of the shorter starts. “And I want those starters to take responsibility and try to pitch deeper into the game.

“I think it's about making quality pitches, controlling counts and giving that bullpen a chance to set itself up without having to go into it early in the game. So we know the recipe -- good starting pitching, good defense and then let the relievers do their work and keep it strong all year long. We’ve got to get back to that.”

was a highlight for the D-backs on offense, coming a home run shy of hitting for the cycle. 

Carroll tripled in the third and recorded the fastest home-to-third time in the Majors this season at 10.97 seconds. He blooped a double down the left-field line in the sixth and beat out an infield single in the eighth before drawing a walk in the ninth.

Despite some of Nelson’s struggles and some misplays in the field, the D-backs still had a chance to win. The potential winning run was on second base in the ninth with cleanup batter at the plate.

Walker, though, grounded out to third to end a frustrating night for the D-backs. 

“Kind of a grinder day with a bitter ending,” Lovullo said.