Lovullo rests regulars due to thin air, WC lead

Manager giving most-used position players a break, but no plans to alter rotation yet

September 3rd, 2017
Torey Lovullo held starters like Paul Goldschmidt out of Sunday's starting lineup. (AP)

DENVER -- After winning the first two games in a three-game set in Colorado and seeing their National League Wild Card cushion grow to 5 1/2 games over the Rockies and seven games over the Brewers, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo is implementing a change in how he rests the regulars on his roster.

Over the course of Sunday's series finale with the Rockies and the first game or two in Los Angeles, Lovullo expects to rest every player with over 400 at-bats and five of the six players with over 75 starts.

In a rare "mass" rest, Lovullo kept , A.J. Pollock, and J.D. Martinez out of the starting lineup on Sunday, and he indicated left-handed hitters and could expect rest in the first two games in L.A.

"I probably wouldn't have done it as abundantly, all at once, if the lead was not where it is right now," Luvullo said before Sunday's tilt. "There's a little bit more wiggle room [after padding their cushion], but I believe in the bench players, and I know that they can go in and do their job when they're called upon."

Well before knowing that the D-backs would pad their Wild Card lead with a series win in Denver, Lovullo had planned extra rest based on the challenges of playing a mile above sea level.

"It's the Denver, Colorado, factor," Lovullo said. "There's the altitude, and it's proven science that your body just doesn't recover as quickly. Coming into Colorado, we took several days off from BP to prepare for the three games in Colorado. I wanted to give some guys some time off, and then you're going to see some guys get some rest coming out of Colorado. It just makes a lot of sense to me to make sure that these guys are healthy and strong."

It also made sense to rest the three righties Sunday against right-handed rookie and set up a break for lefties when the team hits L.A., where they'll draw southpaws Rich Hill and in the first two games.

"I kind of forecast lineups," Lovullo said. "There's a couple lefties that are playing today [Peralta and Lamb] that might get some time off once we get to L.A."

Despite an MVP-caliber season, Goldschmidt has been stifled by Rockies pitching, going 0-for-8 with two walks in the first two games of the series. Asked how Goldschmidt reacts to days off, Lovullo said, "Not good at all. He wants to play every day."

Whether Lovullo's approach will extend to his starting pitching staff remains to be seen. They have scheduled off days on three of the four Thursdays in September, and if he kept the rotation in order through the end of the season, NL Cy Young Award candidate Zack Greinke would be on track to start the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday, Oct. 4.

"We haven't talked about [building in rest days for the starting pitchers]," Lovullo said. "We haven't gotten that far, but I'm sure it's a conversation we'll have shortly. I'm a believer in keeping everything lined up and not thinking about cruise control, because that can be a dangerous sign. I want our guys to play hard and keep everything in the same rhythm."