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Let’s over-react wildly to Arizona Diamondback pitchers’ spring numbers!

Look, we’ve played 10 Cactus League games - surely, that’s more than enough?

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Cincinnati Reds v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The good

Shelby Miller: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 SO
Ah, the soft bigotry of low expectations. My hopes coming in were simply that Miller would get through spring with an acceptable number of knuckles grazed on the mound by his follow-through. But so far, he has looked an awful lot better than he did in his first two spring starts of 2016, where his BB:K ratio over five innings was 2:0 and his ERA 5.40. And Miller consistently throwing 97 mph? But worth noting, he did throw harder after his return from the minors last season: according to Brooks’ Baseball, his average four-seam velocity was about 1.2 mph up. Fingers crossed this is sustainable, controllable and effective.

Taijuan Walker: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 SO
#WeWonTheTrade #OhWait Just don’t look at the stats of Mitch Haniger (spring OPS 1.257) or Jean Segura (.944). But you can cross “Working on a new pitch” off your Preseason Bingo card, with Walker developing and refining his slider. He said of it after Sunday’s outing, “I even threw it when I was behind in the count. It was pretty effective... I think it’s going to be a big pitch for me if I can continue to throw it and continue to have confidence in it.” He was certainly efficient, getting through his scheduled three innings so quickly, Walker ended up throwing another 20 pitches in the bullpen to get himself stretched out a bit more.

Anthony Banda: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 SO
If you’re detecting a theme here, you’re not wrong. For the D-backs’ rotation has come out throwing well this spring. The seven men generally in contention have a combined line as follows, including Ray’s three scoreless innings this afternoon:
D-backs starters: 33 IP, 28 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 8 BB, 32 SO, 3.27 ERA
That ERA would be close to two runs better than our 2016 rotation, and Torey Lovullo has been impressed: "You watch the bullpens, and then you transition into the live BP, and you wonder how it's going to translate [into games], and I have been very pleasantly satisfied with how that's translated into games. These guys are really getting after it. We've got some pretty special, special arms. And it's fun for me to watch."

Yeah, it’s all spring. And we know, from last year, how much spring results translate into regular season success i.e. not at all. But I’d still prefer to see our pitchers apparently doing well than not, in these meaningless contests. For at the very least, it’ll extend the pleasing illusion of hope for another month!

The bad

There hasn’t actually been too much to speak of here. Archie Bradley had an awful first outing, but rebounded nicely with his second, as did Robbie Ray (albeit lesser in both direction). Otherwise, the only pitchers likely with a shot at a roster spot, who have an ERA above 4.50 at time of writing, are Braden Shipley and Zack Godley. The latter has allowed seven hits and a walk in 2.2 innings of work, but if my math is right, that’s a .778 BABIP. So I’m not sticking my neck out when I call it likely to regress. While it seems there have been a few runs given up by the back end of the bullpen, we’ve already seen some double-digit ERAs re-assigned to minor-league camp.

My main concern right now, probably remains Zack Greinke. Not just for being behind the curve of the rest of the rotation, but his opening start saw rather too many pitches going up there in the high eighties. Now, his velocity has been declining gently for a few seasons - shoewizard has a nice chart that shows this - but even last year, his average fastball was 91 mph. If that dips into the eighties, the remaining five seasons on his contract are likely to be long ones. This may well have been Greinke easing his way back into things, and not throwing at full effort. But I’ll be a lot happier if he’s again throwing 91-92 mph in his next outing. After all, if Miller can hit 97...