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SnakePit Round Table: The Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitching, Part 2

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Continuing our discussion of the Diamondbacks rotation, we look forward to what 2016 might bring. Oh, and the Super Bowl.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Will Zack Greinke be the ace the team needs?

Clefo: At least in the first few years of his contract. How he ages will determine if the 2020s for the Diamondbacks starts off with a bang or a whimper, but he pried open the window of contention.

Makakilo: YES! Seven reasons follow:

  1. He is a lock for the Hall of Fame, and still at his peak.
  2. In 2015, Baseball Reference shows his WAR was 9.3 - wow!
  3. In 2015, he won a Gold Glove. Goldschmidt and Pollock also have gold gloves. The 2016 Diamondbacks have three gold gloves!!
  4. He hits very well for a pitcher. In 2015, MLB.com's StatcastTM looked at pitchers and ranked Greinke fifth in hard hit balls (89 mph average exit velocity). In 2015 he had 15 hits, including two doubles and two home runs.
  5. The Dodgers owner, Magic Johnson, said re-signing Zack Greinke was their number one priority! His move to the Diamondbacks made the Diamondbacks better and the Dodgers worse!
  6. His intensity reminds me of Randy Johnson! The intensity shows Greinke's fit with the Diamondbacks is deeper than just money.
  7. Greinke, like Randy Johnson will retain high value as he ages. Randy Johnson had an all-star year at age 40!

freeland1787: Longevity is an issue here due to age, but as of now the Diamondbacks are picking up a guy who finished 2nd in the NL Cy Young voting. Greinke's strengths are pitching IQ and ability to command all of his pitches proficiently. That theoretically should age well over the contract. The 2015 rotation wound up only creating more questions than answering them, so the team obviously felt that they had to spend the big bucks to get someone who can clearly help them. For 2016-2018, he's the ace the team needs. After that, no guarantees.

Steven: With how much they're paying him he better be!

Xipooo: Yes, he will be the ace the team needs, but I worry a bit long term. He has a history of being a bad clubhouse guy. In smaller markets, the team chemistry seems to be a major component of a contending team. Perhaps in markets like LA or NY they can get away with it a bit more since everyone is getting paid. Here if he's a spoiled brat and he's the highest paid guy, we could see a clubhouse full of very unhappy people who want to jump ship. Perish the thought, but if things got too bad we could even see Goldie want an exit.

Jim: Yes: I think Greinke will be the best starting pitcher we've had since Dan Haren in 2009. Not that this is much of a stretch, because we haven't had anyone worth even five bWAR over that time. Still, I think he'll be solid and reliable at the top of the rotation, and that alone is something we haven't had for some time - probably since Ian Kennedy in 2011.

Did we overpay for Shelby Miller?

Clefo: Yes, but flags fly forever. Unfortunately, that's the standard in which this trade will be judged, and that's pretty steep.

Makakilo: The value of top pitchers was high this year. Shelby Miller helps eliminate a huge weakness and the Diamondbacks mostly traded away from positions with surplus (outfield/Inciarte and shortstop/Swanson). Although the price was high, the trade was good for the Diamondbacks.

freeland1787: Yes, yes we did. However, that's just the nature of the market where young and cost-controlled pitchers are worth a lot. It's hard for teams to give up that kind of talent in the first place, especially with teams that are 3-4 years away. The problem with what the Diamondbacks sent off talent that could help them now and in Swanson's case the tail-end of that window. No point in complaining at this point forward, the only thing we can root for now is for Shelby Miller to continue to pitch very well. Miller has likely figured out how to suppress BABIP by creating enough late horizontal/vertical movement to turn hard contact into medium contact and medium contact into soft contact. We'll see if this has any staying power with a move from Atlanta to Phoenix where the ball flys off the bat a lot harder.

Steven: Of course. But when you want something, you go all out trying to get it.

Xipooo: Over paying and under paying is all a matter of the situation. If he pitches in game 2 and 4 of the World Series and they win, will anyone be caring how much they paid?

Jim: Yes - though I'm not unhappy with the end results. I do wonder if we could have got a better return for the same package elsewhere. Perhaps the Mets? Hard to know. It was probably a bigger throw of the die than signing Greinke, considering that the departure of Ender Inciarte means The Yasmany Tomas Experience now becomes a daily show in right field, for good or ill. Just remember that next season: it's part of the price we paid for Miller.

Who'll be the fifth starter?

Clefo: Imma say Archie Bradley.

ISIAP: Going to be RDLR at the beginning of the year, but after three or four terrible outings with 1 good one mixed in, hopefully Bradley will be it.

Makakilo: Just to be clear, I predict Greinke, Miller, Corbin, and Ray will have the top four spots, with De La Rosa changed into an outstanding reliever. There will be one open spot at the start of the season and one spot that opens up in the second half of the season when Corbin reaches his pitching limit.

Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley will compete for the fifth spot in the rotation. Baseball America ranked them #3 and #4 Diamondback prospects in 2016. It is likely that one will secure the fifth spot and the other one will pitch in AAA and be called up when needed. My preliminary prediction is Braden Shipley will be the fifth starter.

Tyler Wagner and Zack Godley are good matches for the spot that opens up in the second half of the season. Tyler Wagner was acquired in Saturday's trade. From 2013-2015, Tyler Wagner has consistently pitched well in the minors. His ERA was always in the top ten. In 2015, he pitched three games in the majors. The first two were not so good. The last game was great. He pitched 6 innings with 1 run allowed. The Brewers lack of run support (1 run in 13.2 innings) and bad defense (ranked 24th in run prevention) may have discouraged Wagner. The only home run he allowed was by Paul Goldsmith, which is to say he did not allow many home runs.

freeland1787: It's RDLR's spot to lose at this point. Bradley and Shipley are hardly locks for the rotation and are on the outside looking in right now. That could change if either has a terrific spring and RDLR continues to serve up gophers in Spring. The Diamondbacks did trade Anderson, but perhaps got an equally valuable piece in Tyler Wagner and had an equivalent piece already at the MLB level in Zack Godley. De La Rosa wins by default this Spring.

Steven: It's Rubby de la Rosa and there's nothing anyone can do in Spring Training to change that. He's loved by this FO and will get every opportunity again to pitch every 5th day.

Xipooo: I'm thinking Rubby and Ray are 4 and 5. Either one of them could be 5th and the other 4th.

Jim: The team seems enamored with De La Rosa - and, when he's on, you can see why, as he has great "stuff". So he'll probably be the starter on Opening Day. But this team is clearly now in "win now" mode, and among other things, that requires a greater intolerance for failure. If Rubby has not figured it out, he'll be replaced. 2016 is going to be all about performance; the time for "development" has passed.

What concerns do you have about our rotation for 2016?

Clefo: The back end, mostly. You worry a little about Corbin's durability, even though he seemed fine last year. You wonder if Ray might regress a little. You wonder if all life is finite and that nobody will remember you when you're gone.... Okay that one isn't specific to the Diamondbacks rotation, but it's still something to think about.

Makakilo: I am jazzed that the team added Zack Geinke and Shelby Miller! I am thankful for Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray - two excellent pitchers who ended the season as likely locks in the rotation. It feels good that only one pitcher needs to show he is ready for a rotation spot out of spring training.

In addition to the five who start the season in the rotation, a sixth pitcher needs to be ready for a rotation spot by the second half of the season when Patrick Corbin reaches his pitch limit. My big concern is injury prevention for all the rotation, not just Patrick Corbin.

freeland1787: Depth in case injuries hit the top half of the rotation. Filling in for the back end of the rotation is no problem since Zack Godley, Josh Collmenter, and Tyler Wagner could probably be a short term solution in case someone goes on the DL. However, if Greinke, Miller, or Corbin suffers an injury it's panic mode. You hope for health in the top 3 and Shipley continues to develop in Reno and is ready to go with Corbin inevitably hits his predetermined innings limit.

Steven: I hope Greinke and Miller pitch well. They were brought on to be anchors of the rotation but if they fail, this season will be a lost one.

Xipooo: One word: injuries.

Jim: There are still a lot of question-marks. Will Greinke be good enough? Is Miller going to be sufficient to offset The Yasmany Tomas Experience? Can Corbin get through a whole season? Is Ray for real? Can De La Rosa retire left-handers? Will Bradley bounce back? Truth is, we probably need most of these to break in our favor if we're going to challenge the Dodgers. Some are more likely than others.

And finally, it's the Super Bowl on Sunday. It'll be Cardinal free. You still going to watch?

Clefo: I had the good fortune (?) of my dad being from Colorado and being raised a Broncos fan. So I'll be watching and chugging tequila in the second quarter when Cam Newton is going all Goldschmidt/Lincecum on the Broncos.

Makakilo: The Super Bowl is the one time each year that I watch football. When neither team is of interest, I enjoy the commercials.

freeland1787: After I play the new Der Eisendrache Zombies map on Call of Duty: Black Ops III. My PSN usertag is mathwiz1993 if anyone wants to add me. In terms of the actual Super Bowl, I feel that this is Carolina's game to lose. They match up too well with Denver's weaknesses in this game. All the Panthers have to do is pressure Manning up the middle and for Josh Norman to get in Demaryius Thomas' head and take him out there. It will take a collapse by Carolina in multiple phases (i.e. blown coverages, turnovers, injuries, return TDs) for Denver to win this thing. If I were betting on this game, I'm taking Carolina and the over.

Steven: Only for the commercials of course!

Xipooo: 80 inch screen, and a chili cook-off at our church. Yeah.

Jim: Mrs. S is working, so it'll likely be a case of Tivoing the game for later. So, I may demand a no spoilers rule in the SnakePit thread. PS. I mean about the adverts. Couldn't care less about the game!