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Takeaways from the Arizona Diamondbacks’ opening series

Safe to say that went about as well as could be hoped. Let’s chew over some of the stats, good and bad.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Quality starts: 0

You don’t win many four-game series where you get precisely zero quality starts from your rotation, yet here we are. Taijuan Walker perhaps looked the best with a nice K:BB of 7:1, and was the only man to get through six innings - but he has the highest ERA, at 6.00. His FIP, however, is the best at 3.11, and most of our starters do have a FIP below their actual ERA figure. Overall starter ERA = 4.79, while FIP is 4.09, borderline tolerable.

Total runs: 27

It’s the biggest tally by the Diamondbacks over the first four games of any season in franchise history. And this came against the team ranked 7th in starting pitching by Fangraphs, who will be leaving Arizona with a 6.35 ERA from their rotation. Admittedly, we probably should not expect the D-backs to hit .303 for the season. But I think this is a team which will score runs...

Runs scored over first three innings: 1

...just not early, based on this opening series. The team’s early at-bats have been awful. Seeing a starting pitcher for the first time, Arizona have been flailing away, and flailing ineffectually away. Their line there is .154/.175/.179, with a K:BB of 12:1. But something seems to click after they turn the order over, as they hit .333/.353/.727 the second time they see him. The third time is even better, with a 1.452 OPS.

Zack Greinke’s velocity: 91.6 mph

Using Brooks Baseball, whose figures have likely been affected less by changes in measurement, that’s a slight drop from Greinke’s four-seam figure in April last year, which was 92.3 mph. But it didn’t seem too much of an issue in terms of actual performance: certainly, his Opening Day start was far better than in 2016. Next game is on Saturday, facing Trevor Bauer. Ready those narratives, people!

Errors: 3

That number is being generous, considering it doesn’t include things like the triple which spun its way past A.J. Pollock, or Brandon Drury’s hesitation which allowed a runner to score from second on an infield hit. We need to be much tighter and play far better defense: while it’s obviously early days, by DRS, Arizona are currently ranked 29th in the majors.

Jake Lamb vs LHP/RHP: .429/1.400 OPS

Doesn’t look like this narrative will be going away anytime soon, especially after an Opening Day where he was thoroughly abused by Madison Bumgarner. Admittedly, he wasn’t the only one there though. The production against righties is very nice, and we’ll take the rough with the smooth for now. But we may eventually see Torey Lovullo go to the bench late in games, against tough southpaw relievers.

Bullpen ERA: 5.28

And outside of Archie Bradley, it’s 6.75. This was the biggest question coming into spring training: concern appears justified thus far. On the plus side, they have struck out 19 people over 15.1 innings of work. However, they’ve also walked eight and been hit at a .297 clip. A chunk of that may be high BABIP (.386), but there seems to have been a lot of loud contact too. Fernando Rodney inspires no confidence in me.

Pinch-hitters: .600 OBP

Yeah, that’s not going to last either (.571 BABIP!), but they’ve certainly been getting it done so far, going 4-for-8 with a pair of walks. I like the fact they have more walks than strikeouts, which suggests they are not giving their at-bats away. That was particularly notable over the past couple of games: our most recent five PA off the bench have averaged 5.6 pitches.

Archie Bradley strikeouts: 7

We finish the first series with a reliever tied for the team lead in K’s. You really could not have written a more emphatic statement for Bradley. The man who beat him for a starting spot gets yanked early, then Archie shows up, pitches almost as long, and dominates, with stuff hitherto unseen. Patrick Corbin’s leash is likely a lot shorter than anyone would have expected after one start.

Wins: 3

The Diamondbacks have started 3-1 before. But I don’t think they’ve ever done it, entirely against team/s that made the post-season the previous year. And it’s not as if the Giants had a fire-sale; they were also projected to be right there in the wild-card mix again this season. That we managed to win a series against them, despite obvious room for improvement, is perhaps the most heartening thing of all.

Now, bring on the Indians!