PHILADELPHIA – Having just experienced his first rough start in a major league game, Diamondbacks right-hander Jon Duplantier was stewing in the visitors’ dugout at Citizens Bank Park. He had thrown too many pitches. He had lasted just three innings. He was, in his words, dejected and hot.
But Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo saw in the moment an opportunity to teach, and during the bottom of the fourth inning of a game the Philadelphia Phillies would win 7-4, Lovullo delivered a message to his rookie pitcher on Tuesday night.
“He just wanted me to come up with something positive, turn the leaf over and kind of just wanted to light a little fire under me,” Duplantier said. “In the moment I was pretty hot, but I’m really appreciative of that message because I’m happy knowing that I’m not alone in that.”
For the second consecutive night, a young Diamondbacks starter was roughed up by the Phillies’ potent lineup. On Monday, rookie right-hander Taylor Clarke could not escape the fourth, forcing Lovullo to ask his relievers to cover 5 2/3 innings.
The Diamondbacks needed their bullpen to go another five innings on Tuesday. Just like that, a pitching staff that had only recently caught its breath in terms of usage had again been knocked off its feet.
Duplantier’s command appeared off from the start. He worked around some hard contact in a scoreless first but had no such luck in the second. With two on and none out, the Phillies’ Scott Kingery jumped on a 3-1 fastball and sent it out to left for a three-run homer. The Phillies added another run on a Bryce Harper double later in the inning.
“Just in terms of my stuff,” Duplantier said, “it just wasn’t the same as it normally was.”
Diamondbacks right-hander Jon Duplantier gave up four runs in three innings against the Phillies on Tuesday night.
Technically, the Diamondbacks have rookies occupying three-fifths of their rotation. One of those pitchers, however, is 30-year-old Merrill Kelly, a right-hander who spent four seasons pitching in Korea’s top league, someone who, despite his lack of major league pedigree, gives the Diamondbacks more dependability than their other two youngsters.
The way Lovullo sees it, having both Clarke and Duplantier in the rotation at the same time – not to mention having them pitch back-to-back in the order – means the team might just have to deal with the occasional growing pain. He’s hopeful the club won’t have too many turns through the rotation like the past two days.
“I want that to get better,” Lovullo said. “That’s something I feel is very, very important for the strength of this rotation and the strength of this team. And they will. They’ll figure it out.”
And that’s why he said what he said – when he said it – to Duplantier in the dugout. It was the second time in the past week Lovullo has pulled one of his starters aside to deliver an in-game message.
With Clarke last week, it was to praise him for his ability to maintain his composure in an outing in which he was not at his best. With Duplantier, Lovullo did not want him to remain engulfed in negativity; he wanted him to view the night as a chance to grow.
“I’m not going to miss an opportunity to teach,” Lovullo said. “That’s really what we are here. We’re teachers. Especially when you have youthful guys walking around here every single day.”
Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said right-hander Jon Duplantier was falling behind too much and making mistakes at the wrong time on Tuesday.
Lovullo said he believes the Diamondbacks’ bullpen will be all right for Wednesday night’s series finale, that it will not require a roster move for a fresh arm. Duplantier understands the possible ramifications for rough outings.
It was part of why he was so upset after needing 76 to complete three innings. And why he was thankful for his manager for reframing the evening.
“Your job is to keep the team in it and limit those big innings and stay deep in the game so the bullpen is not getting taxed,” Duplantier said. “I was 0-for-3 on that mark. Internally, I had a lot of stuff fuming. So that message was something I definitely needed.”
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.
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