Starting pitching is probably the biggest area where improvement is essential for the Diamondbacks. There was hardly a member of the rotation in 2016, about whom there wasn't one or more question-marks in terms of health, effectiveness, stamina or whatever. But the opinions expressed in our poll did show some clear trends, in terms of how the Diamondbacks' fanbase views the current options for the 2017 rotation.
1. Zack Greinke is still the ace.
Even after posting the highest ERA and FIP for a full season since his sophomore campaign in 2005, he was still the first man in the rotation, with 97% of the votes cast putting Greinke in the #1 slot. This might perhaps reflect the lack of alternatives; when you are paying someone $34 million per year, they aren't going to move to the bullpen or go down to the minor leagues. But it also reflects that he was far and away the most valuable starting pitcher on the team. Greinke's 2.3 pitching bWAR was more than twice that of the next-best (Bradley's 1.0), and that's not including the 0.3 bWAR Zack put up at the plate.
2. We believe in Robbie Ray
Almost as clear-cut as Greinke's position was that of Ray, with the best 15-game loser in the majors being named second on 70% of ballots. The allure of those giddy strikeout numbers is easy to see, but the question is whether he can convert them into the ERA that should go along with them. A .355 BABIP did him no favors, but neither did an average of 4.08 pitches per plate appearances, tied for the lead among qualifiers in the majors with Kenta Maeda. It feels like Ray is one complementary pitch from a breakout season, and fingers crossed, it's something he can develop before Opening Day.
3. The consensus rotation: Patrick Corbin, Shelby Miller, Archie Bradley
These three names were the clear favorites to occupy the rest of the slots, each obtaining an average rank between four and five. However, Corbin took most #3 votes, though was a long way short of a clear majority, at 29%. Corbin and Miller tied for the lead at #4, each getting 27%, and Bradley was the top choice for the fifth and final slot, receiving one-quarter of the ballots. It seems the SnakePit is optimistic Corbin's struggles have been fixed with his bullpen stint (a 0.95 ERA and 22 K's over his last 19 IP). Miller's numbers were certainly helped by his last two outings, though a narrow #4 is probably still well down on what we hoped for after his trade last off-season.
4. On the bubble: Braden Shipley and Rubby De La Rosa
Some way back, with average ranks of 6.1 and 6.8 respectively, we find Shipley and De La Rosa. The latter seems particularly hurt by concerns regarding his health, and had the broadest ratings of anyone, with no category scoring more than 13%. That, and his ongoing issues with left-handed hitters, has a number of people wondering if his future might be in the bullpen rather than as a starter. Meanwhile, Shipley's star has dimmed after a rocky rookie campaign, which saw an ERA of 5.27, and a FIP that was even higher, at 5.76. If he's going to be part of the 2017 rotation, he's going to need to win a spot with better pitching performances, or wait for some of those ahead of him to falter or hit the disabled list.
5. And the field
Everyone else came in with an average rank of eight or higher. On that basis, if Matt Koch, Zack Godley, Tyler Wagner and Edwin Escobar see as many as the 13 starts for which they combined this season, it would suggest something has gone significantly wrong further up the ladder. Admittedly, those 13 starts resulted in a combined ERA of 7.23, though Koch's two outings were pretty solid, throwing 11 innings and allowing three runs. However, his BABIP in those appearances of .188 is utterly unsustainable, and with only six strikeouts, he would seem to have over-achieved and be ripe for inevitable regression, so the Pit's skepticism is understandable.
Here are the full results. For each player, you'll find the average rank (where 1 = everyone voted them #1), the highest and lowest votes for each pitcher, plus the most common selection and percentage of votes there.
|Player||Rank||High||Most - %||Low|
|Zack Greinke||1.05||1||1 - 97%||3|
|Robbie Ray||2.49||1||2 - 70%||7|
|Patrick Corbin||4.26||2||3 - 27%||9|
|Shelby Miller||4.56||2||4 - 27%||11|
|Archie Bradley||4.90||2||5 - 25%||9|
|Braden Shipley||6.10||1||6 - 32%||11|
|Rubby De La Rosa||6.80||2||5/7/10 - 13%||11|
|8.01||4||8 - 27%||11|
|Zack Godley||8.52||3||9 - 33%||11|
|8.99||3||10 - 24%||11|
|Edwin Escobar||10.32||7||11 - 56%||11|
Or if you prefer a visual indication, here's a chart plotting the average mark, with a #1 vote scoring 11, down to one point for an 11th-placed ballot.