Time, once again, to turn the spotlight on the highs and lows of individual performances for Arizona in the past four weeks, during which time the Diamondbacks had a record just below .500, at 13-14. While the team as a whole has continued to struggle for consistency - they've got one two-game winning streak since May 23 - there have been a number of bright spots. As the season wears on, it's likely that we'll need to start concentrating on these, rather than the division standings. However, the other end of the spectrum shows that certain players have been more of the problem than the solution...
After the jump, we'll be taking a look at both - naming names and listing the stats which provide the evidence.
1. Mark Reynolds. Special K has been incandescent since the last update: a line of .327/.412/.683 gives him an OPS of 1.094, and he has smacked nine homers and driven in 29 runs. All those figures lead the team, and you can also add the lead in doubles (10), stolen-bases (9) and tied for first in walks (14) over that time-frame. Sure, he's still striking out more than 1.5 times per game, and it won't last - not with a BABIP of .472 - but the results have been fabulous and a pleasure to watch.
2. Dan Haren. Even with his worst game of the season included, when he allowed five earned runs on May 28, Haren still was far and away our best starter. He had an ERA of 2.37, struck out 34 batters in 38 innings, while walking only four, and held opposing hitters to a .179 average. Overall, he has avoided the Chase Field hex that has affected a number of pitchers, and is 7/7 in quality starts at home. Trivia note; eight of the ten runs he allowed during this period came via the long-ball, on seven homers.
3. Justin Upton. J-Up slips a bit, dropping from 'phenomenal' to merely 'very good', with numbers of .300/.383/.540 for a .923 OPS. I'm also pleased to see Upton putting his wheels to good use, with five stolen-bases in his past sixteen games, more than he had in his first 43 this year. He also has an active streak of six consecutive games with walks, which has only been surpassed three times in franchise history [the all-time record is ten, by Jay Bell in 1998]; his damage potential is no longer a secret to pitchers.
4. Clay Zavada. Coolest mustache in the majors - and also a very impressive start to his major-league career. He has 11.1 innings under his belt without being charged with an earned run, and a very solid K:BB ratio of 12:3. It's the best in the majors this year [the next best is Greg Burke's six]; another scoreless inning will give him the franchise record to open a career, and also put Zavada tied for 6th on the all-time list for the number of such games. Opposing hitters are 7-for-40 so far off him.
5. Josh Whitesell and Jon Rauch. I'm splitting this one up, since both players deserve kudos. Whitesell's second go around in the majors have been a great deal more successful than his first: he's hitting .308 with more walks than K's, and an OPS of .955. Will he stick when Tony Clark returns? Rauch, meanwhile, put together a 9.1 inning scoreless streak, and had a WHIP of 1.00. If not astonishingly-good, it's better than we've seen from the Blowfish in a long while, and here's to more of the same.
And now those from whom we want to see better in the upcoming games.
5. Eric Byrnes. Byrnes continues to bump along the bottom, occasionally getting a hit or two, but unable to put together any consistent run - his longest hitting-streak in the period covered here was just two games, leading to overall numbers of .224/.268/.299. He hasn't been walking much either: the BB he had Sunday was his first in over three weeks [since May 23rd], and his BB:K ratio is the worst on the team. The double was also his first extra-base hit in almost as long.
4. Augie Ojeda. He and Ryan Roberts have split playing-time equally over the past four weeks, with each man starting a dozen games in that time. However, Roberts numbers have been so superior - 342 points of OPS, to be exact - that Ojeda's glove is not enough. The Littlest Ballplayer has the Littlest Line: .128/.241/.170, with as many HBPs as extra-base hits (two) - for context, our pitchers are batting .159. Only a BB:K ratio of 1:1 stops him from the Trifecta of UberSuck, with all three numbers below the Uecker Line.
3. Jon Garland. More walks than strikeouts here, with a BB:K ratio of 17:14. Add that to opponents batting .299, and you'll see exactly why Garland has struggled, getting only one victory in six starts. His overall ERA of 5.77 is skewed somewhat by the horrendous outing where he was tagged for nine earned runs and didn't get through three innings, and he still managed to produce four quality starts. However, Garland starts are like sweeping a minefield by sticking your fingers in your ears and tap-dancing - never a comfortable experience.
2. Chad Qualls. You do not want to see opponents hitting .327 off your closer, but that's what they've done to Qualls over the past 28 days. A combination of medical and mechanical issues have seen him leaving the ball up in the zone too often, and as a result he has only three 'clean' innings in the 11.2 pitched - compare the seven he had in the previous eleven innings of work. While he still converted five out of seven saves, which isn't utterly disastrous, I can't say I feel as confident as I did.
1. Billy Buckner. It's a lot harder to hide a bad starting pitcher than it is to hide a bad relief one - save the odd off-day, your #5 will see almost as many starts as your ace. The Diamondbacks' motley crew of Webb replacements continue to struggle, with Buckner the current incumbent, apparently incapable of pitching worth a damn in Chase. His two road starts have been grand - one earned run in 13.1 innings. An overall ERA of 6.21 shows you how bad the home ones have been.