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Godley serves as opener in loss to Braves

@SteveGilbertMLB
May 12, 2019

PHOENIX -- The D-backs joined the list of Major League teams that have employed an “opener” strategy Sunday afternoon, but the move did not pay off as the Braves hung on for a 5-3 win at Chase Field to take three out of four and claim a series win. The

PHOENIX -- The D-backs joined the list of Major League teams that have employed an “opener” strategy Sunday afternoon, but the move did not pay off as the Braves hung on for a 5-3 win at Chase Field to take three out of four and claim a series win.

The Rays were the first team to use an opener, having a pitcher face the opposing lineup a maximum of one time through before giving way to another pitcher who is expected to throw a little longer. Due to a number of long games recently, the D-backs found themselves without a starter for Sunday, so they elected to put Zack Godley back in the rotation. The right-hander began the season in the rotation but was demoted to the bullpen after struggling in six starts.

Box score

The plan was to have Godley get through the lineup once and then turn things over to rookie Jon Duplantier, who has yet to be stretched out enough pitchwise to start a game.

“It was obviously by design,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “We’d been talking about that for a while. We wanted to go that route and utilize the best of Zack and the best of Jon and see where it landed us inside of the game.”

According to Godley, he was not told that was the plan heading into the game.

“No, I was not,” he said. “I got out of here a little bit quick yesterday because of the fireworks and [Lovullo] called me on my way home and told me, ‘You’re getting the ball tomorrow.’ And that was the way I took it and the way I went into the game. Then at the end of the second inning he told me I was done. He told me if a bunt situation came up, I was going to bunt but other than that I was done.”

Would he have prepared any differently had he known?

“No sir,” he said.

Would he liked to have been told ahead of time?

“No sir,” he said.

Godley allowed one run over his two innings thanks to an RBI bloop single by Braves center fielder Ender Inciarte.

“I felt awesome,” Godley said. “Body felt good. I threw pitches where I wanted to, I threw the ball where I wanted to honestly. Even that hit that Ender got I threw the ball right where I wanted to. He just put a good swing on it and the ball fell for a hit.”

Things didn’t go as well for Duplantier, who allowed three runs in the third inning before holding the Braves scoreless in the fourth and fifth.

“Overall, it’s a learning experience,” Duplantier said. “Failure, however you want to judge it, doesn’t necessarily bother me too much. It’s exciting in a sense. There’s a lesson to take from that.

“Get ahead of guys, pound the zone and then do what you need to do. I’ve been behind in the count a lot since being up here. So it’s just a bunch of lessons.”

Duplantier will have to work at applying those lessons in the Minors as he was optioned to Triple-A Reno following the game so the D-backs could get a fresh arm for the bullpen in time for Monday’s series opener against the Pirates. A corresponding move will be announced before that game.

While Duplantier works on getting his pitch count up so that he can be considered the next time the D-backs need a starter, Lovullo and his staff have to figure out what to do with the rotation. An off-day Thursday will allow them some wiggle room, and judging by Lovullo’s postgame comments, they need some time to sort through their options.

It’s possible the D-backs could return Godley to the rotation, or they could recall Taylor Clarke to start. Another option is to once again go with an opener.

“I don’t know right now,” Lovullo said. “We spent some time thinking about it over the past couple of days, and I guarantee that we’ll talk about what to do the next time around. I don’t know exactly what that thought is at this point in time.”

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.