Record: 58-57. Change on last season: +4
None taken... :-) I should mention that the RotY-meter over in the sidebar is not intended as exhaustive, simply a convenient way of comparing Jackson's performance against other position players. And just as Florida dominates that chart [with four of the top seven spots], they have several starting pitchers equally worthy of contention. We'll see two more over the rest of the series (Scott Olsen, 9-5, 3.92 ERA; Ricky Nolasco, 10-7, 4.15) and you do have to wonder if perhaps it may be the Marlins that Arizona face in the 2009 National League Championship Series. Maybe post-World Series fire sales is the most efficient way to build a team!
Certainly, Josh Johnson looked the part yesterday, and has now pitched enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, in which he has surpassed Brandon Webb. Here's a comparison of various stats for those two pitchers:
ERA K/9 WHIP RS BAA OPS Brandon Webb 2.74 6.72 1.14 5.86 .256 .571 Josh Johnson 2.69 8.13 1.28 5.44 .227 .652
With Webb being called the favorite for the Cy Young, you could certainly argue a case that Johnson is there or thereabouts. His only real weakness seems to be a tendency to walk a lot more people, 4.18 BB/9, compared to Webb's figure of 1.56. Maybe he could follow Fernando Valenzuela, who won both the NL RotY and Cy Young in 1981? Interestingly, the AL has several similar candidates who could also do the same: Weaver, Papelbon, Verlander and Liriano come to mind.
Anyway, last night, Arizona had very, very little success against Johnson. We managed just two singles off him in seven innings of work, and didn't get a runner past second base until he had left the game - Easley's eighth-inning home run was our third, and last, hit while also providing all our scoring for the night. Shawn Green had a particularly bad night, going 0-for-3 with 3 K's, and his batting average has now dropped to .285, having hit .174 (12-for-69) since July 19, with more K's than hits.
Eric Byrnes is another one slumping, he want 0-for-4 last night, and is batting below the Mendoza line (.194) in August. His overall season average has dropped 44 points, since it was .325 on June 1st. To make matters worse, his regular backup, Jeff DaVanon, has now been placed on the DL - Scott Hairston was called up as a replacement, but I don't know how capable he would be of playing center field. I suspect we'll just have to grit our teeth and hope Byrnes can play his way out of this down the stretch, or until DaVanon comes back. He said, "I definitely was at fault. I had a couple guys in scoring position, a chance to drive in some runs, got a couple pitches to hit and just didn't get the job done. In the big leagues, you got to take advantage of some mistakes. Just didn't take advantage of them."
Livan Hernandez made his first start, and it wasn't a bad one - he did pitch deep into the game, as advertised, going eight innings. It wasn't a particularly long start, since he only threw 95 pitches, below average for the year. [He's twice thrown more than 130, though those did seem to have a knock-on effect - both following starts saw him yanked in the second inning] He allowed ten hits and a walk, but most of the damage came on Cabrera's two-run single in the seventh. All told, four runs were allowed, and if this is the kind of start we can expect, I think we'll be happy. Hernandez v2.0 kept us in the game, saved our bullpen, and that's what we need.
Thanks to VIII, William K, TheMainMan and DiamondbacksWIn for their comments. The loss means the Dodgers retain the outright lead in the NL West, 1.5 games ahead of AZ and SD: both teams remain 1/2 game back in the wild-card race, behind Cincinnati. Ten teams are now within five games there, with Philadelphia (two back) and Houston (2.5) currently playing the best. The BP odds currently give AZ a 23.6% chance of making the playoffs, with most of that coming as winners of the NL West.
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Today: Livan Large
In other news, the ongoing refusal of Go Daddy to allow me access to the domains I registered through them - even though I no longer work for the company, and the domains in question were not even in my employee account - has led to the Diamondbacks Bullpen forum moving to a new home. I think we've all learned a valuable lesson here. :-S
Interesting choice by Melvin, to move Cruz to the bullpen. According to Melvin, "We feel like Cruz gives us another option in the bullpen for another dominant arm, where Claudio would be just more of a long guy." Me, I'd have said you want your best pitchers to throw the most innings, and that's apparently not just me. It also goes against the general opinion of SnakePit readers, 50% of whom voted for Vargas to be removed to make way for Hernandez v2.0. Cruz received 26% of votes, with EnGon at 19%. Though a bemused shake of the head goes to the one person who voted for Webb to be removed - I can only presume that was suitsmetoATnT!