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Arizona Diamondbacks Game Preview, #135: Pitching problems

Arizona's pitching is now reaching historical level of suck.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Braden Shipley
RHP, 2-3, 4.75
https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/assets/2652413/col.png
Tyler Chatwood
RHP, 10-8, 3.75
Phil Gosselin - 2B Raimel Tapia - CF
A.J. Pollock - CF DJ LeMahieu - 2B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Carlos Gonzalez - RF
Welington Castillo - C Nolan Arenado - 3B
Jake Lamb - 3B David Dahl - LF
Yasmany Tomas - RF Tom Murphy - C
Chris Owings - SS Gerardo Parra - 1B
Socrates Brito - LF Daniel Descalso - SS
Braden Shipley - RHP Tyler Chatwood - RHP

Last night's 14-run mauling had a significant impact on the team's pitching record this year. The Diamondbacks surpassed the Twins in terms of both runs allowed and ERA, and now have the worst figure for both in the entire major leagues. Historically, they're getting up there as well. Since 2005, only one National League team has posted a higher ERA than Arizona's current figure of 5.19. The 2012 Rockies reached 5.22, so if tonight's contest is anything like Friday's, we'll find ourselves ahead of that by the end of the day as well. Here are the top 10 team ERAs over that timeframe in the NL.

Year ERA W% IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP OPS
1
COL 2012 5.22 .395 1422.0 1637 890 824 198 566 1144 1.549 .827
2
ARI 2016 5.19 .418 1204.1 1317 756 694 171 505 1072 1.513 .808
3
CIN 2005 5.18 .451 1433.0 1657 889 824 219 492 955 1.500 .835
4 COL 2005 5.14 .414 1418.2 1600 862 810 175 604 981 1.554 .819
5 PIT 2008 5.10 .414 1455.0 1631 884 824 176 657 963 1.573 .816
6
COL 2015 5.04 .420 1426.1 1579 844 799 183 579 1112 1.513 .814
7
WSN 2006 5.03 .438 1436.1 1535 872 803 193 584 960 1.475 .796
8
WSN 2009 5.02 .364 1424.1 1533 874 794 173 629 911 1.518 .802
9
PIT 2010 5.00 .352 1411.2 1567 866 785 167 538 1026 1.491 .798
10
CIN 2016 4.97 .421 1186.1 1205 712 655 216 513 1008 1.448 .803

We can't even blame the bullpen in particular. For the Diamondbacks' rotation now ranks 29th in the majors, with a 5.18 ERA; the Twins are the sole other team above five. But the entire staff, top to bottom, has been worth a whopping 1.4 bWAR this year. 2.5 of that is down to Zack Greinke; everyone else, combined, is 1.1 wins below replacement. It's like a small-scale version of 2004, when Randy Johnson was worth 8.5 bWAR, and the rest of the D-backs' pitchers (and, don't forget, that included Brandon Webb) put together a -2.6 bWAR season. Something has clearly gone disastrously wrong, and I'm not seeing any easy way to address it.

For the team has, largely, shot its bolt, committing about one-third of its annual payroll (excluding deferrals) to Greinke, and trading away prospects for Miller. The former has been...okay, rather than awesome, and I needn't rehash the sorry saga of the latter. There's not much cash for free-agents (not that there are many this winter you'd want to sign) and a depleted farm system for trades. So it's going to require very creative work, and no small degree of good fortune, for Arizona even to get their pitching back to mediocre for 2017, where their solid offense might then have a shot at putting them in playoff contention.