Righty 2nd D-backs hurler to achieve feat en route to 8-whiff outing
By Jarrid Denney
PHOENIX -- Zack Godley's curveball has been his go-to pitch late in the count since he was in high school. Now, he is throwing it more than ever and has turned the pitch into his primary weapon during a breakout year with the D-backs.
Godley relied heavily on his curve Sunday as he held the Cubs to two earned runs in Arizona's 7-2 loss at Chase Field. While Chicago tallied a pair of runs in the first and second innings, Godley held the defending World Series champions in check for much of the game and got plenty of swings and misses. In the first, Godley became only the second D-backs pitcher to record four strikeouts in an ininng, joining Oliver Perez, who did it Sept. 20, 2014, against the Brewers. The righty is the 81st pitcher in Major League history to achieve the feat.
In that four-strikeout frame, the Cubs still threw a run on the board. Godley got Victor Caratini swinging for what would have been the third out, but strike three skipped to the backstop, allowing Kris Bryant to score from second. Chicago's other run off of Godley came on an RBI double from Jon Jay in the second.
"I thought that Zack Godley did a tremendous job," Arizona manager Torey Lovullo said. "After a couple early hiccups, he pitched into the sixth inning and once again, he had the numbers and strikeouts and held a very offensive team in check and gave us a chance to stay in the ballgame."
Godley threw his curveball 51 times and produced 13 swinging strikes, according to Statcast™. But he also threw just 12 of 26 pitches (46.2 percent) for strikes in two-strike counts. That was his lowest rate in a game since 2015, and some of those missed spots came back to haunt him in the early innings.
Even on a day that he didn't have his sharpest command, Godley still struck out eight, and five of those came via his curve.
"It's always great to pitch well late into the game and save the bullpen as much as possible and keep us close," Godley said. "We're always in games, no matter what the score is. We made a push there at the end, but just couldn't come up with the big hits. But it's great to go out and give us a chance to win, it's just unfortunate we couldn't do it today."
It was the second time this month that Godley has delivered a strong outing against the Cubs, who drafted him in the 10th round of the 2013 draft before trading him to the D-backs in December 2014.
"It's crazy that we traded him away," Bryant said. "I mean, he would be a nice player to have here. We've faced him two times this year and [his curveball] seems to be a weapon of his. But I think the velocity of it is what really makes it tough to hit."
According to Statcast™, Godley's curveball has resulted in either a swinging strike or a called strike in two-strike counts 38 times this season. That's the seventh-highest mark in the Majors, made more impressive that Godley, who joined Arizona's rotation in late April, hasn't thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
"Really and truly, my curveballs been -- other than my fastball -- it's always been my main pitch," Godley said. "I never really had a changeup, so I had to kind of work off the fastball and curveball, so my curveball was my main offspeed pitch. … I just continue to try and throw it consistently in the zone and out of the zone where I want it to go, and it's developed into a pitch that I can do just about anything I want to with."
Jarrid Denney is a reporter for MLB.com based in Phoenix. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.