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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #54: Rule of thirds

This game marks the one-third point in the 2016 campaign.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Lance McCullers
RHP, 1-1, 4.60
Patrick Corbin
LHP, 2-4, 4.21
George Springer - RF Jean Segura - 2B
Jose Altuve - 2B Michael Bourn - CF
Carlos Correa - SS Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
Evan Gattis - C Jake Lamb - 3B
Tyler White - 1B Brandon Drury - RF
Luis Valbuena - 3B Chris Herrmann - C
Carlos Gomez - CF Chris Owings - SS
Jake Marisnick - LF Yasmany Tomas - LF
Lance McCullers - RHP Patrick Corbin - LHP

Safe to say this season has not gone the way the D-backs wanted. They come into this contest nine games back of the Giants, 7.5 downin the wild-card and with the 12th-best record in the league, ahead of the Padres, Braves and Reds. A particularly harsh reality check is if we compare things to the same point last year - not only was the Diamondbacks' record superior, at 25-28, they were also significantly closer to the top of the division, being 5.5 back of the Dodgers, and four games off the pace for the second wild card. Given the moves made this winter supposedly opened our window of contention, you can only wonder, to quote David Byrne, "How did I get here?"

Clearly, injury has played its part, particularly the loss of A.J. Pollock, likely for the entire year. But we've seen underwhelming performances from almost the entire rotation; Rubby De La Rosa is likely the only one to have met expectations, and he's now on the shelf for an indefinite, but likely fairly significant period. The area where the team made the biggest efforts to improve has actually got worse. Last season, Arizona's starting ERA was 4.37; this season, after Escobar's ineffective debut yesterday, it's now at 5.10, which is the highest it has been since 2004's 5.15. Yep, it's that bad, folks - or worse, if you consider the lower offensive environment now.

There have, it can't been denied, been other problematic areas: Goldie's early struggles; some question marks over the defense; unreliable performances from the bullpen, particularly at the back end. But it's that starting pitching which has been the most significant cause of the team's failure to meet expectations this year. We have 21 quality starts in 53 attempts - that less than two, each turn through the rotation. Now, the quality start is certainly not a perfect stat, but it's accurate enough in this case: more often than not, the starting pitching isn't giving the offense a chance to stay in the game. While that continues, hard to see things getting any better.

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