Drey Jameson sparkles in relief in Diamondbacks' win over Rockies

In his first start in Triple-A after being sent down last month, right-hander Drey Jameson threw his slider over and over, inning after inning. The pitch, which had long been his signature offering, had somehow abandoned him in the majors. He was determined to rediscover it.

If there were any doubt about the status of that pitch, Jameson erased it with an impressive performance in relief on Monday afternoon, firing 3 2/3 scoreless innings in a 7-5 win over the Colorado Rockies at Chase Field.

“When all of his pitches are working and he’s using them, he’s a very tough at-bat,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “That’s what we saw today.”

Pavin Smith clobbered a three-run homer to cap a five-run second inning, helping the Diamondbacks overcome an early 4-0 deficit. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. connected for his ninth home run. Corbin Carroll, Emmanuel Rivera and Jake McCarthy had two hits apiece in what was the Diamondbacks’ best offensive performance in more than a week.


The win was the Diamondbacks’ second in as many days and improved their record to 31-23. Only two National League teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves, both with 32, have more wins than the Diamondbacks.

“I didn’t know that, that’s cool to know, 93 wins,” Smith said, when told of the pace at which the Diamondbacks have played at the one-third mark of the year. “It’s definitely been good so far, but we’re not going to take that for granted. We’ll come in and work every day.”

Jameson was sent to Reno in late April after a miserable start against the San Diego Padres, an outing in which he labored through a 43-pitch first inning, then did not come back out for the second. The Diamondbacks believed he had become too predictable, leaning too heavily on his fastball, in part because he no longer had total command of his slider.

“I was throwing the slider out of the zone a lot,” Jameson said. “I think it then got put on the scouting reports that I’m not really landing it for strikes and the ones that did land for strikes were middle-middle.”

On April 29, six days after that start against the Padres, Jameson started for Reno and threw 49 sliders out of 79 pitches against Triple-A Sugar Land. When he got recalled on Saturday, Lovullo asked him about that outing. Jameson told him he was going to throw as many sliders as it took.

“The slider is my best pitch,” Jameson said. “I have to really attack with that pitch. I had to really fine tune it to get it where it needed to be. … If I threw 42 of them, it took me 40 of them (to find a feel).”

On Monday, Jameson deployed a more modest, but still aggressive, usage of his slider, throwing it on 28 of 59 pitches. He elicited whiffs on 11 of the 18 swings against it. He also used showed a healthy dose of two-seam and four-seam fastballs and even his change-up, which he threw three consecutive times to the Rockies’ Harold Castro for a strikeout to end the seventh.

“I feel like I was throwing a lot of strikes,” Jameson said. “Getting ahead of guys and making pitches when I needed to make pitches.”

Jameson seemed to navigate his way out of a pair of jams with ease, twice having two runners on but neither times permitting a run.

“He was just going right at guys,” Smith said. “Even the hits he gave up didn’t seem like they were hard hit. Even when he got guys on, it seemed like he was going to get out of it.”

Jameson opened the year as a long man out of the bullpen, then shifted to the rotation before being sent to Reno, where he continued to start. He showed on Monday he might be a sort of missing piece in the bullpen, another leverage arm capable of pitching multiple innings who can help ease the workload on Andrew Chafin, Miguel Castro and others.

That said, he also showed the sort of deep arsenal and pitch-making ability that could help in the rotation; given the struggles the Diamondbacks have had at times at the back of their rotation, he could be of use there, too.

Lovullo, however, seemed to downplay the idea of an immediate return to starting for Jameson.

“I think he took a lot of pressure off the bullpen today,” he said. “We’re looking for more of those types of outings from our guys.”

Lovullo added: “Never say never in this game, but I think for right now we’re going to stand pat.”

Nick Piecoro

Up next

Rockies at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m., Chase Field

Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (6-2, 2.97) vs. Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland (4-5, 3.86).

Gallen gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies last week at Citizens Bank Park, a game the Diamondbacks led, 5-0, but wound up losing, 6-5, in 10 innings. Gallen took a shutout into the sixth and came within a strike of escaping the inning without damage. … Gallen curveball has been his best pitch for swings and misses, eliciting whiffs at a 41.9 percent clip. … Gallen owns a 2.66 ERA in 12 career starts against the Rockies. … Freeland has been mostly terrific in the month of May, giving up two runs or less in four of his five starts. The lone exception was a clunker against the high-powered Rangers, who scored eight runs (five earned) off Freeland in two innings. … Freeland faced the Diamondbacks on April 28, giving up three runs in six innings in a game the Diamondbacks won, 9-1, at Coors Field. … 2B Ketel Marte has hit him well, going 12 for 37 (.324) with four doubles and two homers.

Coming up

Wednesday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Tommy Henry (2-1, 4.50) vs. Rockies RHP Connor Seabold (1-2, 5.94).

Thursday: At Chase Field, 12:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Zach Davies (0-1, 5.68) vs. Rockies RHP Chase Anderson (0-0, 1.31).

Friday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Merrill Kelly (6-3, 2.83) vs. Braves RHP Charlie Morton (5-5, 3.59).

What to know about the Colorado Rockies

The Rockies lost two out of three to the Diamondbacks in Denver at the end of April, dropping their record to 9-20. They have played better since, entering Sunday with a 14-10 record in May. They took three of four from the Marlins last week and entered their series finale against the Mets with a chance to take two of three. Several of their hitters have been productive this month, including OF Randal Grichuk (.343 average, .889 OPS) and C Elias Diaz (.351, .980). OF Jurickson Profar has two homers, 10 walks and a .286 average in May. Even their pitching staff has been better. Former Diamondbacks RHP Chase Anderson has provided a lift, turning in three starts with a 1.72 ERA since being claimed off waivers from the Rays. LHP Kyle Freeland (3.24 ERA in May) and LHP Austin Gomber (4.40 ERA) have kept the Rockies in games this month.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Drey Jameson sparkles in relief in Diamondbacks' win over Rockies