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Where does Zack Godley's start rank among Diamondbacks debuts?

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Last night's first major-league appearance by Zach Godley was [insert theist pun here]. But, really: how good was it?

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By Game Score, it ranks third of 23, among major-league starting pitchers making their debut as Diamondbacks. though there are a couple of asterisks which should be noted on that list, which we'll get to later. It was not, however, the best debut by a Diamondbacks this season, since Godley GS of 71, was just pipped by Archie Bradley's score of 72, achieved in his first game, on April 11. In case you'd forgotten - and how long ago that seems now - he tossed six scoreless innings of one-hit ball, with four walks and six strikeouts. The lack of hits just tips the overall balance in Archie's favor. Here are the top 10.

Rk Player Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H R ER BB SO Pit Str GSc
1 Archie Bradley 2015-04-11 LAD W 6-0 GS-6, W 6.0 1 0 0 4 6 112 66 72

Geraldo Guzman 2000-07-06 HOU W 2-1 GS-8, W 8.0 4 1 1 1 3 93 61 72
3 Zack Godley 2015-07-23 MIL W 8-3 GS-6, W 6.0 4 0 0 0 7 88 66 71
4 Micah Owings 2007-04-06 WSN W 7-1 GS-5, W 5.0 1 0 0 3 6 96 54 68
5 Chase Anderson 2014-05-11 CHW W 5-1 GS-6, W 5.1 2 1 1 1 6 74 49 65
Enrique Gonzalez 2006-05-28 CIN L 4-5 GS-6 6.0 3 1 1 1 4 86 53 65
7 John Patterson 2002-07-20 SDP W 7-1 GS-6 6.0 3 1 1 2 4 85 52 64
8 Andrew Chafin 2014-08-13 (2) CLE W 1-0 GS-5 5.0 3 0 0 2 3 101 59 62
9 Jarrod Parker 2011-09-27 LAD W 7-6 GS-6 5.2 4 0 0 1 1 73 50 61
10 Tyler Skaggs 2012-08-22 (1) MIA W 3-2 GS-7, W 6.2 3 2 2 5 4 99 54 59

[And here are the couple of qualifications. Neither Max Scherzer nor Brandon Webb are present here, because both of their debuts were out of the pen. In Scherzer's case, it was still pretty good - 4.1 perfect innings, with seven strikeouts! If that had been a start, it would have been a Game Score of 70. good enough for fourth on the list. His first start, the following week, was far less good: 29. Webb, on the other hand, had one tune-up out of the bullpen, but his first start was a doozy. Seven shutout innings, on three hits and a walk with ten strikeouts; that one scores an 80, and would occupy the top spot here, if it had been his actual debut]

Still, Archie was expected to do well - he was a former #1 pitching prospect in all baseball. Godley was a 10th-round pick who had made three, fairly shaky starts above High-A - and was throwing to a catcher who was just as short of experience above the low minors. In terms of track records coming in, and resulting expectations, this was likely the biggest over-achievement in Diamondbacks history. Godley did not look intimidated by the situation in the slightest, and the pre-game descriptions of him as a "bulldog" made total sense. He threw strikes - three-quarters of his pitches in total (66 of 88) - and generated 20 swings and misses. That's a good recipe for success.

"The game is still the same; the same type of hitter I've always been facing. Just excited to get out there," said Godley. He added that Tony La Russa had given him a piece of advice on Monday, when Godley came in to set up his locker. "He said we know you're going to have nerves, everyone does, just take a deep breath and settle in and throw strikes." Mission accomplished, I think; at least, after the game, Zach seemed content enough: "I was locating my pitches pretty well, all of them, anywhere from fastball all the way to the changeup and curveball. Everything seemed to be working pretty well."

The play which defined Godley's composure came in the third after a double and bunt single put runners on the corners with no outs. He got former Diamondback Gerardo Parra to bounce back to the mound, and was cool enough to look the runner back to third, before throwing to second for the force, rather than just getting the out at first. It was a play Chip Hale called gutsy, but Godley considered routine: "I knew the pitcher was on first base. Nine times out of ten when any of us get on first base, we’re probably not going to run very hard. I knew I had a little bit of time." The double-play which resulted, as the runner broke late from third, helped preserve Godley's shutout.

The question now is, can Godley continue to perform above expectations? Obviously, we can't expect a shutout every time, and one start is not enough to pronounce him the next coming of Brandon Webb - look at the subsequent career of Guzman, who made just nine further major-league starts and ended his career with an ERA above five. But having seen our offense struggle against journeymen, unheralded prospects and spot starters on what seems like a regular basis this season, it's nice for once to have the boot on the other foot, and see a shutdown performance from an unheralded prospect of our own. I look forward to seeing what he can offer on Tuesday against Seattle.