The D-backs have scored 74 runs at home, while in the same number of road games, it’s just 31 runs. Is there a reason for this gulf, or is it just randomness?
Michael: The hitting and the pitching seem to be both affected by Home/Road splits as well. The Dbacks blew a handful of chances in a few road games, but they were in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, three big pitchers parks in night games. The comfort level at the plate seems to be much better at home for pretty much every hitter, especially Owings, Tomas, and Peralta.
Jim: I think it will settle down a bit. We’ve not yet played in Coors, and while Petco isn’t the death for hitters it used to be, the park remains pitcher friendly. The .404 BABIP at Chase, before today’s game, will go away eventually too. Though we have also hit more than twice as many home-runs in Phoenix, and our K:BB ratio is significantly better here. The team has certainly taken advantage of the friendly environment. To be honest, it would not surprise me if we see a “delay” in the introduction of the humidor.
Keegan: The Padres had a good game plan against us the final two games in the series that worked quite well in their favor. This is going to balance out as the season drags on, but I am not surprised in the least bit that the offense performs better at home. What we should be focused on is how frequently this offense can put up double digit runs with ease. I saw glimpses of mental weakness on that road trip, but not nearly as prolonged as we witnessed last season. Having now experienced Petco in person, I am now well aware of the reasons for discrepancy.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I definitely feel like there is some randomness and SSS going on there, but I also think that this team will perform better at home in the long run. But I think so far, it has just been a case of feast or famine. They score nine times in an inning, or 12 or 13 times in a game, and then other games they score either none or just a few. I would like to see these peaks and valleys level out a little as the season progresses, and the offense becomes a little more consistent.
Makakilo: I expect this home/road split to continue. The big reason is that so far in 2017, Chase is very hitter friendly. Through 22 April, looking at “Park Factors for Runs”, Chase is #2 in the Majors at 1.787. The other reason is that the other teams in the NL West have much lower run factors: Coors is 1.215, Petco (Padres) is .927, Dodgers Stadium is .914, and AT&T (Giants) is .695. Here’s the complete list.
Xipooo: I think it’s a series of factors. The ballparks on the roadtrip were mostly pitchers ball parks. Then there’s just being on the road jitters, and randomness. I’d say the number of runs scored at home is the real outlier.
Are A.J. Pollock and David Peralta fixed?
Michael: If by fixed you mean they are hitting again, the answer is yes. In the final game against the Dodgers, both players had 4-hit games and for the most part have been contributing at the plate since. Pollock is on the leaderboard for total bases. Peralta is starting to crank out extra base hits in bunches, which is usually the telltale sign for when he’s hot at the plate. There will probably be times in the season where both guys struggle at the plate later in the season.
Jim: They’ve looked a lot better over the last week, to be sure. I was probably less worried about Pollock, who has a longer track-record of high-level performance, though on the other hand, his health issues are always going to be cause for concern. Peralta doubled his season tally for extra-base hits in Saturday’s game, though that’s as much an indication of how much he had struggled in the early going. Would still like to see both men take a few more walks, however.
Keegan: Don’t look at them. Don’t touch them. Don’t breathe near them. Without a doubt, they had rust resulting from lack of playing time last season. Both of them are tremendous players when healthy. I actually expect Pollock to continue to improve. This is obviously my subjective opinion, but Pollock and Peralta are two completely different players when it comes to their confidence in their ability. Peralta only knows how to give the game everything his body will allow him to. I see a lot of myself in Pollock in that he is very critical in his abilities. He knows how talented he is and expects a lot from himself which is why it is easy to see defeated body language on him while he isn’t doing so well. I’m just glad to have both of them back.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I sure hope so. When the season began, I thought that a healthy A.J. and David would go a long way towards a successful Dbacks season. And so far that has been the case. I really like having them hit 1-2 at the top of the order ahead of Goldy and Lamb, I think that it puts some early pressure on opposing pitchers. A few more weeks of this, and I will be ready to write off last year as just a fluky injury year for both of them.
Makakilo: Yes. Just last week, Pollock was my biggest concern! What a great week!
Xipooo: AJ yes, Peralta I don’t think so. AJ’s has already brought his season average back up over .300, and though Peralta’s AVG is close he’s been in a slump since the All Star break last year. He also has holes in his swing which I don’t see him adjusting
What about Paul Goldschmidt?
Michael: Goldy seems to be in a funk where he’s either getting underneath or on top of the ball. He’s had some moments at the plate against the Dodgers where he’s hit a couple hard ground balls through holes in the infield, so he could be getting hot at the plate soon. With Pollock and Peralta hitting well in front of him and Tomas and Lamb hitting well behind him, it’s only a matter of time until Goldy gets pitches to hit and does something with them.
Jim: It’s almost as if sitting on the bench for two weeks in the World Baseball Classic might not have been the best way to prepare for the season… Who knew? Correlation is not causation, of course. The main reason is, his line-drive rate has plummeted, about a third down on what it was last year - though, oddly, his “hard-hit” rate is at a career high, which is reason for hope. I think he’ll come around and return to his normal profile. In the meantime, at least he’s still taking walks.
Keegan: Pauly G will be just fine. I touched on this in Snake Bytes earlier today. His hard hit rate is up at 49% while his soft hit rate is down at 9.8%. I would like to see him get under the ball a bit less. Paul is just having some really unlucky results at the moment. Glass half full says that we should be optimistic the team is performing so well while waiting on him to come around. Get your popcorn ready because it’s going to be fun to watch when he is on.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): My completely subjective-lack-of-statistics opinion is that Goldy is in his own head right now. He looks to be over thinking at the plate and as a result really looks off. I don’t think that he is broken, I just think that it will take some time for him to find his groove. Like Jim said, sitting for two weeks in Spring Training is not the best way to get ready for the season. If he is still struggling this bad in July, then I may start to worry. Nah, probably not.
Makakilo: Because Goldy is awesome,opposing pitchers will keep looking for ways to stop his hitting. Goldy will constantly battle to keep adjusting. Today’s 2-RBI home run assures me he will consistently bounce back.
Xipooo: I have noticed a lot of JUST MISSED swings from Goldie. His strikeout rate is only 19% so he still has the great discipline at the plate we have come to expect. His BABIP isn’t an extreme in either direction so I don’t think he’s had any bad or good luck. Because of this, I think he’s in a slump that he will soon get out of and I expect him to get back around the .300 mark with 100+ RBI’s at the end of the season.
Our starters currently have one of the best ERAs in the league? Legit or a mirage?
Michael: Park adjusted ERA and FIP has the Diamondbacks in the top 10 while 13th in xFIP. Most of the improvement has come from the starting rotation, which isn’t a crutch on the team anymore. I do think they fattened up a bit on the road trip, Walker and Ray had mediocre outings against the Dodgers at home. They’re 7th in fWAR in terms of pitching, with almost all that value coming from the starting rotation, which ranks 3rd in baseball in fWAR. While lacking an ace at the top of the rotation, they do have a very solid 1-5 rotation of #2 and #3 type starters.
Jim: I’m perfectly content to enjoy the mirage, if it is one. Yes, there will be regression, particularly on the home-run front. No-one in our rotation has allowed more than three home-runs this season - that’s one fewer than Kenta Maeda allowed last night. This won’t last forever. But there was a very interesting piece in today’s Arizona Republic, giving credit to Dan Haren for improving the team’s advance scouting, and that seems to have had a significant impact.
Keegan: Legit. There was no way that rotation was going to be as awful as it was last season. It was nearly impossible to be that bad again. I do think the home run rate is going to regress. Walker is going to surrender his fair share. The rotation has the appearance of a solid 1-5 of #2 & #3 type starters as Michael said above. When our 5th guy in the order matches up against the opposing #5, there is a significant chance we are going to win that battle. We really just need our rotation to continue to compete among themselves and be their own best version. Dan Haren and his armchair scouting reports might have something to do with recent success.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Legit. I don’t think they will finish the season as a top 5 staff, but I think that top 10 or 15 is not out of the question. Greinke looks to be feeling a little better in his second year in the desert. Shelby Miller looks like he has regained some serious confidence, and our new shiny toy Taijuan Walker looks like he is improving (although I would like to see that slider a little more - the few times I’ve seen it, it has been insanely nasty).
Makakilo: Legit. Three reasons follow:
- It is reasonable to expect continuation of above average pitching, which is the current level of performance. In terms of wins above average, the Dbacks starting pitching ranks third in the NL and the relief pitching ranks eighth in the NL.
- Run support is a real thing that can impact the pitching. Dbacks’ offense is great, providing much run support and positive impact to our pitching staff.
- Analytic data given to starters has “more beneficial information” (Corbin), and “it’s more detailed” (Herrmann). Hat tip to Jim for the link to Scott Bordow’s article.
Xipooo: It’s hard to say what exactly is going on. On the one hand Mike Butcher is still the pitching coach. On the other hand, there are some new catchers behind the plate. There is also the state of the bullpen. There’s a bit more confidence I think in the guys backing up the starters especially since they haven’t had QUITE as many innings to pitch as last year. I’m still worried about the depth our starters are getting to, and I think it’s still too small a sample size to make any judgements. My opinion of Butcher is so low however, that I admit to expecting some serious regression.
After today, we’ll be four times through the rotation. Who in our rotation has impressed most?
Michael: I’d probably say Shelby Miller has impressed the most considering how bad last year was for him. Miller’s mechanics are fixed and that’s yielded a velo bump with his fastball and cutter. While his curveball and change-up come and go, the 4-seam, cutter combo that made him an All-Star in 2015 is mostly back and better than ever. I still get a bit worried when Miller gets a couple bad breaks and brace for a potential meltdown, which hasn’t happened yet fortunately.
Jim: Yeah, Miller - though his 2016 season helps a lot, giving him an extremely low baseline of expectations. I still can’t believe he’s throwing at or near 99 mph. [Sad, post-Sunday update: And, apparently, neither could his forearm…] But I’ve been impressed with what I’ve seen from Walker too, who has generally deserved a better fate. Any time a starting pitcher is striking out more than a batter per inning, you will usually be in decent shape. Unless you’re Robbie Ray, and are walking almost as many!
Keegan: Up until the San Diego series, I would have said Taijuan Walker. I’m still picking Tai for breakout candidate of the year. However, without a doubt it is Shelby Miller. He is a completely different pitcher on the mound than last season. Fang alluded to this earlier that Lovullo seems to be giving the starters a longer leash to pitch out of the danger they create. They have answered the call thus far, and I feel that has the largest impact on Miller.
Edit after today’s game: Sigh. How you gonna do me like that? Play dangerous games, win dangerous prizes. I really do hope that Shelby Miller is fine. Do any of us really want to see him have a terrible career here? I’m going to stand by my GDT comment that we will see Anthony Banda shortly. Would I like to see him polish his craft in the minors further? Absolutely. I was excited with what I saw from him this spring.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Most impressed by Shelby Miller. Throwing high 90’s and his confidence seems to be sky high at the moment. Coming into 2017 I was counting on him as a #5 starter that Bradley could potentially replace if needed. Now, it looks like he might be a strength of our rotation if he keeps this up.
Makakilo: Although Shelby Miller greatly exceeded my expectations, I see his upside as above average. Taijuan Walker impressed me most. His strikeout rate ( 9.1 SO/9) is nearly at the elite level of 9.6, while his BB/9 is 2.29. A ratio of SO/BB of 4 is impressive. I see his upside potential as our ace pitcher!
Xipooo: I think most people are happy to see Shelby performing the way he was advertised. As I kept reminding everyone all last year, he never broke 3.50 ERA in any of his previous seasons. There was a good solid pitcher there, his mechanics were off and it got to his mentality. This year probably feels like a fresh start to him. Because this is what I expected from him, perhaps I’m not as impressed as everyone else. To me, Corbin’s bounce back is more impressive. All of his pitches are breaking less, his slider, change, and even his sinker have less movement. Though that may seem like a bad thing, I think it’s given him a bit more control over the strike zone. His strikeout rate is slightly lower, but he’s not giving up home runs.
And who are you most concerned about?
Michael: I’d probably be most concerned with Patrick Corbin, who seems to have a bad start, good start pattern. With his slider nowhere near as good as pre-TJ form, Corbin has been developing a change-up which has yielded mix results. When that pitch is going for him, he’s tough to hit. When not, batters sit fastball on him. Corbin is probably the one pitcher you worry about with regression due to a low strikeout rate and an artificially low HR/FB rate. His xFIP is 4.35, so he’s not due to become a horrible pitcher and if he can pitch like he did against San Diego more frequently might not be the crutch in the rotation.
Jim: I’m still not convinced about Greinke. He looked fine last start - but that was in Petco, against a line-up of Double-A hitters and Wil Myers. He has been a little better than last year, but his raw stuff certainly seems diminished, although there’s likely no pitcher better equipped, cerebrally, to outthink opposing hitters. He’ll need to do that, and pitch smarter, rather than harder, if he’s to come anywhere close to justifying his contract.
Keegan: Robbie Ray really worries me as he approaches 40+ pitches in the 2nd inning. It’s great that he is generally pitching downhill after the 4th inning, but he really isn’t doing himself any favors. I am trying to convince myself that it is acceptable for him to go only 6 innings while striking out 10+ and only giving up 3 runs. It is quite the contrast from watching Randy go 8+ innings with essentially the same numbers. Perhaps we allow Ray to take his pitch count somewhere in the neighborhood of 115?
Edit after today’s game: Shelby Miller obviously. The increased velocity was too good to be true. We can’t sit around and pout if he is severely injured. Nobody here feels sorry for the Giants. Successful teams take on that next man up persona. Hopefully, everything I am currently writing doesn’t even matter and that Shelby is ok. Excuse me while I sulk in a corner.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I am most concerned about Patrick Corbin. To me it looks like he has two average pitches at the moment, and is not fooling hitters enough to maintain success in the long run. I would really like to see him develop his third pitch to the point where he can keep hitters off balance. He’s had success so far, but I fear that it will be short lived if he can’t make adjustments.
Makakilo: I am thinking most about Tom Wilhelmsen. Even excluding his bad inning against the Giants on 12 April, his SO9 rate is bad, and his BB9 rate is average, albeit small sample size. Looking at his splits he does better with no runners on base. I am greatly looking forward to RDLR at full-strength being ready to pitch relief!
Xipooo: A bit worried about both Shelby and Greinke. They both seem like a really bad outting could shake their confidence.
Should Chris Iannetta replace Jeff Mathis as primary catcher?
Michael: Iannetta is the best offensive weapon at the position, Mathis doing anything offensively is usually a luxury. The Diamondbacks have 3 catchers, although Herrmann is more of a left-handed bench bat without a position is better than your typical emergency catcher. I’d like to see Iannetta get more starts behind the plate, especially with power pitchers like Walker, Ray, and Miller on the mound where pitch framing isn’t as important.
Jim: We didn’t expect anything from Mathis offensively, but he has somehow managed to underperform even that. .139 with 14 strikeouts in 37 PA? And small sample size, yet Chris Iannetta has been better at pitch-framing this year? You wonder if we might be better off with Mathis as a coach, rather than on the 25-man roster. But let’s give it a bit longer: three weeks is barely enough for fantasy baseball roster decisions, never mind real team ones.
Keegan: Do I think the Cubs should trade Miguel Montero back to Arizona while assuming most of his remaining salary? Absolutely. I think that Ianetta should replace Mathis as the primary catcher. Quite honestly while answering this question the only contribution I could remember Mathis having was his Opening Day performance. Maybe the team is able to swing a move should we find ourselves in contention come the All Star Break.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I think that change should be coming before too long, because outside of opening day Mathis has really been struggling. In fact, outside of opening day, Mathis is 2 for 32. Even with the first game, he has a 7 OPS+. SEVEN! If he continues to struggle this bad at the plate, then I don’t think he will be long for the team. With Herrmann able to catch and Oscar Hernandez awaiting in the minors, I don’t think they will keep Mathis around for too long.
Makakilo: My concern is making Chris Iannetta primary catcher may reduce his effectiveness by overworking him He averaged 97.6 games per season over the past five years. In any case, depth in the catcher position is good.
Xipooo: Perhaps not full time replacement, but should get more opportunities. My concern with moving him right in there is we’re getting good results from our pitchers with Ianetta. I’m not sure I want to break that up just for a few more bases on offense.
Next weekend, we see the surprising Rockies for the first time. Are they in it for the long haul?
Michael: It will depend on their pitching. Nolan Arenado is an MVP candidate who doesn’t get the credit he deserves because he hits in Colorado. That team will lead the league in runs scored and likely runs allowed in that ballpark that plays like a MLB the Show when you turn the sliders all the way up in favor of the player. Greg Holland looks like a strong addition in the back-end of their bullpen, which is why they are 7-0 in 1-run games to start the season and obliterated a Giants team that looks dejected from the get-go. If the Rockies can’t get strong enough pitching, they aren’t seeing the postseason. As with the Diamondbacks, wait and see if they’re still in the running when the calendar flips to July.
Jim: No. #BecauseRockies. That’s not being facetious - well, not JUST being facetious. They seem to specialize in fast starts: over the last seven seasons, only St. Louis have more wins in the majors before the end of April than Colorado. Division titles resulting: zero. When the weather warms up, and the balls start flying out of Coors Field, I expect their pitching to fold like cheap sheets. Just in time for our series against them, beginning on June 20.
Keegan: I want them to be as much as I want the Diamondbacks to be. I’ve had it with watching the Giants and Dodgers slug it out year after year. I want something different this season. I don’t have an issue with Rockies’ fans either. They enjoy beer as much as I do, and they are loud come playoff time. And I just now realized that I can’t drink Coors Banquet if we’re battling them all season long because superstition. Therefore, I want them to fail miserably as well. They always get off to a fast start to begin the season.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): They could be. It’s always tough to tell with the Rockies because they have shown flashes like this before, but then they fall apart. They do have some interesting pitching pieces this year though, so it could be interesting to see how far they can go. Regardless of how well they do in the long run, expect a lot of runs to be scored next weekend!
Makakilo: The short answer is no. The intuitive reason is “Purple Row” (SB Nation website) has talk about “shuffling roles” of the players – including moving Mark Reynolds from first base to outfield. Analytic reasons are bad starting pitching and unsustainable run production.
Pitching. Although Rockies have great relief pitchers, their starting pitching is a problem. Two are injured (Chad Bettis and Jon Gray). Two are not pitching especially well (Tyler Anderson and Kyle Freeland). Except for Antonio Senzatela, all starters have ERAs above 4. Starting pitching would be a foundation for sustainability – the Rockies don’t have it.
Hitting. Their 2017 BABIP of .278 is sustainable because it is less than last season and it is slightly less than the league average. Although BABIP is sustainable, run production is not sustainable because two anomalous games(April 21 and 22 vs Giants) raised the runs per game from 3.4 to 4.0. The long term runs per game would be closer to 3.4 runs per game.
Xipooo: I honestly don’t know enough about the Rockies to be sure, but if history is any indicator they should start fizzling out by mid May.
Do you ever watch D-backs anywhere but home or the park? If so, where and why?
Michael: Fox Sports Go is pretty useful when you have an internet connection that isn’t slow.
Jim: During the week, I work until 8pm, so that basically stymies that. If there’s a somewhat early Saturday game though, Mrs. S and I will try to have dinner out, at somewhere showing the game. Sitting at the bar in Islands is the most common haunt, but we did enjoy JJ’s Grill on Camelback last night. We live not far from Westgate, but parking there on a Saturday night is generally more trouble than it’s worth.
Keegan: Generally not if I don’t have to. I did watch Friday’s game from a bar local to me in North Central Phoenix. My friends and family are well aware that my schedule revolves around the games during the season. There isn’t enough fandom around the team in Phoenix for my viewing habits to be on display in public. I do hope that changes as time marches on.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): No, not yet. I do hope to catch some games at away ball parks this year though.
Xipooo: At work occasionally. Lucky for me I have an office and an agreeable boss who loves the Diamondbacks too.
Player of the Week (Apr 17-23)
We’ll accumulate the standings over the course of the season, adding up the percentage of votes obtained by the nominees each round. Last week, Jake Lamb prevailed, with 41% of the vote, but sits in second place overall, behind double-nominee Archie Bradley. Here are all the standings.
- Archie Bradley: 55%
- Jake Lamb: 41%
- Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
- Brandon Drury: 22%
- Taijuan Walker: 21%
- Paul Goldschmidt: 15%
- Zack Greinke: 12%
- Nick Ahmed: 7%
- Robbie Ray: 3%
But we have an almost whole new set of nominees for round three, with only Greinke having been listed before, so let’s see how the board changes.
Who was the D-backs player of the week, Apr 17-23?
This poll is closed
Zack Greinke: 8 IP, 1 ER, 1.13 ERA
J.J. Hoover: 2.2 IP, 0 ER, 5 SO
David Peralta: 14-for-27, 1.292 OPS
A.J. Pollock: 14-for-27, 1.292 OPS
Yasmany Tomas: 6-for-22, 8 RBI, 3 HR