More wins for Arizona, as they continue to get close to the team's first postseason spot since 2007. Series wins over Colorado and San Diego, were accompanied by ceremonies to mark the 10th anniversary of the franchise's greatest moment. Our round-table discuss that, possible play-off match-ups and Chris Young's thumb. Guest contributor DeDxDbackxJroK joins the panel this week: JoeStock and CaptainCanuck will do the honors the last two weeks of the regular season.
Oh, look: they played seven games. :-) A 5-2 week for Arizona, beating both the Rockies and Padres at Chase. How do you reckon it went?
snakecharmer: Well, it was certainly better than the 4-2 week we all predicted. ;) We still run into WAY too many outs on the basepaths, but the important thing is we are never out of the game, not even when down 7-0, and we keep winning series. This team has an amazing chemistry and amazing resiliency. I’m already so, so proud of them.
DeDxDbackxJroK: Finding out that David Hernandez is still human during the 8th inning at Coors, It was still great sticking it to Tulo and the supposedly contending Rockies. Taking 2 of 3 in comeback fashion was worth losing one to the Padres.
DbacksSkins: Team still seems to be rolling, though the Dodgers series aren’t looking as easy as they did originally. Coming back against the Padres was nice, but it made me greedy -- I wanted the sweep.
Seeing David Hernandez implode was less important than seeing him go 1-2-3 the next night. Reaction to failure is more telling than reaction to success.
shoe: Great week for the club, capped by a great weekend. They continue to pitch well, despite Collmenters rough outing, and the timely hitting just keeps on ticking. Gibby's mystifying lineups keep working.
Jim: Six series wins out of six is a mark of a consistent, play-off caliber team, and I also like the way this team comes back after defeat - we haven’t lost back-to-back games since the end of the long losing streak on August 22.
What did you think of the celebrations to mark the tenth anniversary of our World Series team?
C. Wesley Baier: I think it’s been awesome. I love seeing the team playing in the old purple uniforms again, and it’s great to see all the old players from the the ‘01 team together. I almost never thought we’d see Randy and Curt together again.
snakecharmer: I cried. I’m not going to lie. I also nearly cried when they announced Mark Grace and the camera showed Daron Sutton in the booth, and he was barely holding it together. I really wish I could’ve been there. The ‘01 team is what got me into the Diamondbacks, so they’ll always hold a special place in my heart. It was awesome to see how many players were there and honoring every single one of them, even Lyle Overbay, who only had two at-bats. For Greg Schulte to be the master of ceremonies.... the whole thing was just so fitting and so well-done.
DeDxDbackxJroK: Seeing the Purple and Turquoise for the weekend and not just for Friday was terrific. I didn't get the chance to attend like I wanted, but watching on TV gave me peoplebumps with every recognition they gave to the ‘01 team.
DbacksSkins: More than anything, I was just pleased as punch to see RJ back and not mad at the FO anymore.
Was happily surprised at how many former players there were, though I missed BK Kim. Craig Counsell’s recorded message was also unexpected and very nice.
shoe: The celebrations were very nicely done. Hopefully some of the disenfranchised that came out to cheer for their heroes of 2001 will embrace this team and start showing up again. (After all....they have more money to spend)
Jim: Nice to see them acknowledging Colangelo who - despite all the subsequent issues - was the man who had the drive and vision to win it all. It was good to see unity between the past and present owners like that.
With 15 games left in the regular season, what are the most important things for the D-backs to do the rest of the way?
C. Wesley Baier: I think it’s important that we maintain some momentum the rest of the season, and that we clinch home field advantage in the divisional series. Playing the Phillies at home in the playoffs is going to be incredibly tough with that pitching staff. I think we’d fare much better against Atlanta.
snakecharmer: Get the kinks out of the system now. Fix the base-running, go through any arm or swing tweaks they need, rest up, and be ready for the post-season. I know all 25 or 35 guys are going to put it all on the line every single game, I have faith in the "B" and "C" squads to keep winning each series, and I think they just need to get in a good groove for the post-season.
DeDxDbackxJroK: I don’t want to jinx them, but they all need to stay healthy and bash that injury bug before he has a chance to surface. I take full responsibility if anything happens between now and the playoffs. Other than that, charmer sums everything else nicely.
DbacksSkins: Keep winning. The Brewers aren’t going to unseed themselves, you know.
Just don’t get anyone injured.
shoe: 1.) Stay healthy
2.) Manage the pitching staff wisely so they are ready for the playoffs.
3.) If at all possible, overtake the Brewers
Jim: I think most of the bases have been covered. I wouldn’t mind some key players getting more rest - Justin Upton, David Hernandez, Miguel Montero, for example. They are going to be very important to our chances in the play-offs, and winning there is more important than in meaningless regular-season games
Would we be better off resting Chris Young to try and get his thumb healthier for the post-season?
C. Wesley Baier: I think we should try and give CY as much rest for his thumb to heal.
snakecharmer: I don’t think two weeks is going to do a whole lot to help CY’s thumb. He’s just starting to swing better and take more walks. Give him a day off now and then, yes, but he’s also the type of guy who needs consistency to get better with the bat. I don’t want him to be going through a cold spell as we head into the post-season.
DeDxDbackxJroK: Dedxdbackxjrok: this is debatable, but the logical answer is to sit him down once we clinch a playoff berth. From the production he gave us this weekend I'm positive the thumb injury has improved alot more. I just don't want him to be in a dry spell if we sit him too long for the postseason.
Kishi: I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him get some rest. Give him a couple days off, let him heal up, and he’ll be more effective when we really need him in the playoffs.
DbacksSkins: Yes, and I think we would have been better off doing it a week or two ago.
Is an injured Chris Young now AND later really that much more valuable than Collin Cowgill now and an uninjured CY later?
shoe: His thumb seemed pretty healthy the last few games. I wonder how much of a factor it really is at this point.
Jim: It may be too late now. I think it is still bothering him - Daron seemed to reckon it was the extended swing that makes it flare up - but getting it fully healthy is probably not going to be possible in 2-3 weeks. Of course, it’s only the past week that we’ve really been secure enough to be able to contemplate resting him. Bit of a "damned if we do" scenario there.
Which would you prefer: face the Phillies in a short series, or avoid them and take on the wild-card in the Division Series?
C. Wesley Baier: That’s a tough one. The Wild Card is more than likely going to be the Braves. The Phillies, as it’s been said a million times, have an awesome pitching staff, with a league average offense, and a good bullpen. Atlanta’s starting pitching is decent, and their offense is mediocre, but their bullpen is ridiculously good. I think I’d much rather face the Braves, just based on their record. Normally I would suggest NOT facing a Wild Card team, but the Wild Card just hasn’t been a competitive race this year. Both teams seem like they’re coasting along to the post-season. That said, I’ll go with us facing Atlanta.
snakecharmer: It’s so hard to say. I tend to agree with Daron Sutton that starting at home is almost as important as who you face [despite the "myths" about home field advantage]. There’s a comfort factor for these guys here, especially the young ones. Plus, Atlanta’s a much less hostile away environment than Philly, and Atlanta is struggling lately. I think I’d rather face the Braves. (Or the Cardinals, if that’s who comes from behind.)
Kishi: I want to play the Wild Card in the Division Series. Neither team is going to be a walk, so I’ll favor the scenario that has us starting the playoffs at home.
DbacksSkins: The Braves. This team’s better at home, for whatever reason, and if we’re destined to end our season against the Phillies, I’d rather it be in the NLCS than NLDS.
Besides, there’s no chance we face the Brewers in the NLDS, but we might face them in the NLCS, if we face the Braves in the NLDS.
Dedxdbackxjrok: what's wrong with playing the Phillies in a short set? Granted they have an elite starting three, but we've learned Halladay is beatable, we've crushed Lee at home before, and Hamel's is Hamel's. The Never say DIEmondbacks welcome any challenge. I'd like to see the #1 seed get knocked out of the playoffs during the 1st round just like I did on my fantasy team this year.
shoe: I would rather the team be guaranteed 2 home playoff games. They don't start getting a bigger chunk of the revenue until they get deep in the playoffs. The majority of the take from the earlier rounds goes to revenue sharing. The more home games the better.
Jim: There’s advantages to both. Our best chance of beating the Phillies is a five-game set: they’re the better team, little doubt about that, so the shorter the series, the better. But facing the Braves would be our best chance of winning the Division Series, especially with their pitching staff hampered by injuries. Face ‘em, and maybe the Brewers can upset the Phillies on their side.
Assuming we get there, who should be our third starter for the post-season?
C. Wesley Baier: Josh Collmenter has the best statistics out of all our starters that aren’t Hudson or Kennedy. Let’s go with him.
snakecharmer: Joe Saunders. Keep Collmenter on hand for a Game 4 or to come in as long relief if Joe struggles, but a rotation of three rookies makes me nervous.
Kishi: Saunders. I love Collmenter, but I’d feel more comfortable running out Saunders with Micah Owings and Josh Collmenter ready to come out of the bullpen to help out if the Colonel falters.
DbacksSkins: Against whom?
I have a feeling Gibson will go with veteran Saunders either way, though Colonel Joe has a career 5.40 ERA in the postseason (in 15 IP). It’s not exactly a Johnson-Schilling situation.
Collmenter against the Braves this year pitched 13 innings over 2 starts, with a 0.69 ERA. First time out, 6 scoreless at home with 2 hits and a K. In Atlanta, 7 innings with 1 run on 4 hits, 4Ks, and 3 walks. In Saunders’ lone start, he went 6 and gave up 1 earned. 0.69 ERA vs. 1.50 ERA -- 6 of one, half dozen of the other.
Against the Phillies, it’s another matter. On April 27th, Saunders was lit up, going 5.2IP giving up 10H and a walk for 6 runs despite striking out 8. He was in the midst of being "lousy early season Joe Saunders", and Josh later pitched a perfect inning in relief with a K. Later in the season, Saunders at least nearly reversed his IP and R: 6IP, 5R, with a 3:4 K:BB ratio on August 17th. Didn’t seem to matter that Ryan Howard and Chase Utley are lefties, he had an 8.49 ERA against the Phils this year.
Collmenter’s only start against the Phillies was better: 6.2IP and 2R on 8H and a walk with 8Ks, in the Roy Halladay comeback game. Throwing out the relief inning, will he be much worse his 2nd time seeing them? 9 baserunners over 6.2IP isn’t great, and he probably wouldn’t strike out 8 again.
Despite shoewizard’s warning that splits against an individual pitcher are the least predictive, I still feel like I’d rather have Collmenter pitch against the Phillies than Saunders. Shame we can’t face the Brewers in the 1st round -- Collmenter’s shut them out over 14 innings this year, on 6 hits with 10 Ks and a walk. Saunders pitched 7 against them, yielding 2 runs. Something to look forward to, I guess, if we meet them in the NLCS.
Dedxdbackxjrok: I believe Joe would be our number 3 starter. He's got postseason experience and wouldn't it be nice to see him throw that complete game gem to advance us to the next round?
shoe: It doesn't need to be debated. It will be Saunders unless they can't set up the rotation the way they want. Gibby would never diss a veteran like that, not one that for the most part has performed well.
Jim: Oh, it will be Saunders, little doubt about that. However, should it be? Let’s look at their peripherals this year:
Road-trip against the Dodgers and Padres for the D-backs. What are your hopes and expectations?
C. Wesley Baier: Well, i’m hoping for a clean sweep of both series. The way the D’backs have been playing, I expect them to take both series. My prediction is we go 4-2.
snakecharmer: As I’ve said the past two weeks, they need to go at least 4-2. Just keep it above .500.
Kishi: 4-2 seems very reasonable. The Dodgers are hot right now, but we aren’t too shabby at the moment, either.
DbacksSkins: Gonna be an optimist -- no 3-4 prediction from me! 3-3. 2-1 at SD (never wanna predict a sweep on the road) and 1-2 at the Dodgers, who have played very well since the All Star Break.
Dedxdbackxjrok: my expectations are winning and trimming that magic number down. Working out those kinks in the baserunning is key too, but seeing Kennedy win his 20th would be nice. I'd say we go 5-1 and stay ahead of the Brewers.
shoe: My hope is that they can cool off the Dodgers and figure out the hitting woes that have plagued them on the road in LA & SD. (.692 OPS in LA and .637 in SD this year) EDIT: After double checking I note the SOPS+ for LA is 107 and the S OPS+ for SD is 96. So they really haven't done any worse than most other teams visiting those cities. Still....they need to be able to get runners on base and score some early runs.
Jim: I’ll stick with a 3-3 record. I think beating the Dodgers in Los Angeles will be tough, especially facing Clayton Kershaw [and as a side-note... Dana Eveland?], but we should be able to handle the Padres again.
The Giants face the Padres and Rockies: predict our magic number by next Monday morning.
C. Wesley Baier: I predict that our magic number will be <2.
snakecharmer: Hmmmm........ I think it’ll be less than 3. Whether it’s 0 by then, I don’t know... I hope so, but it should be at the most 2 or 3.
Kishi: DBacks go 4-2, Giants go 4-3, we sit with a magic number of 1 on Monday morning. Any hope to have for the DBacks clinch when I’m at the game on Monday are entirely coincidental, I’m sure.
DbacksSkins: Giants go 2-1 at home vs. Padres, 1-3 at Colorado, and Tim Lincecum is caught on camera, blaming a "****ing juiced ball" again. 3 Dbacks wins and 4 Giants losses combine for a Magic Number of 1, and kishi goes home happy.
Dedxdbackxjrok: 1 would be an ideal number returning home. Going to agree with Kishi about clinching at Home. That would be the cherry on the top of this 2011 sundae season..
shoe: What is our Magic number to beat the Brewers?
Jim: Next Monday to clinch works for me, since I’ll be there as well. I don’t think we’ll quite clinch, but I think a magic number of two seems about right, and we’ll clinch the division at home for the first time since 2002, sometime in the Pirates series.