Since the opening of the season I have been excited about our team. Here were my early expectations.
1) Bullpen would be solid with JJ, David, one pitch Brad, and the precarious addition of Heath Bell.
2) Lots of singles and doubles, not so many home runs. Marry-go-round style innings should average at least once a game with all these guys that "grind out" at bats.
3) Goldschmidt would be our new superstar. He would show us what patience at the plate would bring and probably lead the league in doubles.
4) Prado would epitomize team play both on the diamond, and at home plate.
5) Starting pitching would be all #2 starters for any other team.
So far, it's been mixed results and honestly I'm somewhat worried.... but there is hope.
First, the bullpen has been awful on this latest road trip. JJ and David have both given up way too many leads leading to closer games than we would expect.
Second, we have 21 home runs in 21 games. With Aaron Hill, and Jason Kubel out due to injuries, would you have expected them to be averaging one home run per game? As far as "merry-go-round" innings, I don't believe they've gone through all 9 batters in one inning this year. A new stat I was hoping this team would cause the baseball world to create.
Goldschmidt HAS stepped up in a big way. BA .329, OBP .426, and SLG .557. These are the numbers I think everyone was hoping to see from BPWSNBN (Braves Player Who Shall Not Be Named) while he was here. I could have SWORN the team was emphasizing lower strike outs though and he ha 25. Not a category I was hoping to see him lead the team in.
Prado's ability to hit in crucial at bats remains to be seen. I've seen some very nice opposite field singles to advance the runner and put two men aboard. But when the pressure has been on, I can't think of a single time he's come through at the plate. He and Willie Bloomquist really seem like the same guy but without the back problems. He can play any position at any time. Problem is, that's not what we want him to be. We wanted a SOLID 3rd baseman. We didn't want him in left field. For cry'n out loud have have more outfielders than we know what to do with, why is he in left field???
Ian has been shaky. Aside from his first outing, he's getting hit a LOT. He has a 4.70 ERA right now which is the highest it's been since 2008 when he only pitched in 10 games. His WHIP is also on the rise to 1.304. Slightly above where it was last year. It's hard to see him keep the #1 spot in the rotation when you have Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin pitching outstanding games.
I think Trevor Cahill may have the best season of his career this year. Watching the movement on his fastballs is like the movement on Sergio Romo's slider. It's beastly. In fact, the only time's Trevor gets in trouble is when the Umpire can't tell if it's a strike or a ball because it moves around so much.
That leaves us with Brandon McCarthy. The sample size may be a bit too small, but clearly he is struggling. Even his offspeed pitches go in a straight line thigh high over the plate. I'm honestly surprised he's gotten anyone out. Not that I have any more talent than him, so who am I to criticize... but I fail to see how he deserves 3rd in our rotation. When Daniel Hudson comes back, I don't think Brandon has a chance to stay on this roster. There isn't even a spot in the bullpen for him.
So, where is the bright side?
Despite a series of injuries that would leave any other team floundering to stay out of last place in their division, the Diamondbacks still find a way to win. When the team has had their backs against the wall, they've still won giving them that "Grind it out" persona we've wanted to see. 5-0 in extra innings, and 7-0 in getaway games really shows they won't give up.
I'm almost as excited to see what happens in a month as I was for opening day when we have all these guys back.
Jason Kubel - .333 BA, .375 OBP, .600 SLG
Aaron Hill - .306 BA, .405 OBP, .556 SLG
Willie Bloomquist - .302 BA, .325, OBP, .398 SLG (last year)
and Adam Eaton.
It may be a bit early, but here are some moves I would make.
Give Bell some closes and put JJ in for the 7th. Not permanent, just something to help JJ get his reps without the pressure.
Slowly reshuffle your starters to get Miley #1, Cahill #2, Corbin #3, Kennedy #4, and Skaggs #5. Yes, Skaggs at #5. I would have no problems if you switch Miley and Corbin. Corbin has shown he can go against other #1's.
Miggy needs a break from the middle of the lineup. Put him in the 8th spot so he has to start getting pickier about his selection. He's swinging at WAY too many bad pitches and not at the good ones. In the 8th spot he'll get even fewer good ones and he'll start to train himself to be more selective.
STOP PLAYING PENNINGTON EVERY DAY. I've nicknamed him "Auto-Out Cliff". I don't think I've seen him advance a runner or get on base in 2 weeks. Maybe when Chavez needs a day off you can put him out there, but aside from that he's not helping us win any games.
Lastly. I'm going to reach. Turn AJ Pollock into a backup infielder that can replace an aging Willie Bloomquist.
Dude's got range and an arm. You're telling me he couldn't make some plays for you at 2nd? Yes, again I know it's a reach but he fits in with the "grind it out" crowd. I don't want to see him gone when Eaton and Kubel come back. He's been a sparkplug for this team when they've needed it. I don't see how we could send him back down to Reno now.