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SnakePit Round Table, Week 4: Month-end review

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The homestand ended 6-4, but could have been better. While we lost Shelby Miller, Arizona finished the month half a game back. How do we feel?

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What do we do about Fernando Rodney?

James: He isn’t pitching again before Tuesday. I give him one more chance after most of a week off to see if he can get things right against D.C. If he can’t, I probably move him into the role of a no-leverage reliever until Barrett is ready to come back. Once Barrett shows he is healthy and if he can perform even close to as well as he has in the past, then I bring Barrett back to the 25-man and simply move/part with Rodney. If someone wants him, fine. If not, his contract is small enough to eat.

Makakilo: The two wild pitches certainly caused me angst. I looked for clues at Brooks Baseball. Comparing April of 2016 to April of 2017:

  1. Fastball percentage increased from 17% to 35%, while sinker percentage decreased from 48% to 26%. Maybe game calling could be changed for Rodney.
  2. Whiff percentage for fastballs decreased from 12% to 7%. That change reinforced that a change in pitch calling could help.
  3. This year, batting average against Rodney was better for fastballs (.455 vs .375), sinkers(.385 vs .077), and changeups(.278 vs .182). Rodney’s pitching decline includes all three pitching types.

Looking at pre-season comments, Rodney was seen a low-cost (but with incentives) acquisition. The paths ahead were a) DFA if he failed, b) keep, and c) trade if he succeeded. Now that Rodney’s performance is seen more clearly as less than stellar, the team needs to look internally for his replacement. My first thought is Hoover would be a great closer. My second thought is when will RDLR and Jake Barrett be ready – and could they close?

As for busting the budget to add a better closer – I remember well that GM Hazen said he will wait until 1 June to look ahead. So that decision is a month or more away.

Keegan: I’ve seen what I need to from him. He is costing this team precious games early in the season and it is demoralizing. 32 earned runs given up in 39.2 innings since the All Star Break last season. Saves/Save Opportunities is a poor way to measure closer performance. I also think the idea that your closer is a player who comes in and pitches one inning and gets three outs is silly. I would like to see the team use Archie in a multi-inning save situation. He is too overpowering not to.

Charlie: He was a bargain bin signing to see if he had any life, he doesn’t, or at least not a lot of it, so may as well cut bait on the “Closer” thing. I’ll agree with using Archie Bradley in a closer/Andrew Miller hybrid position, or if not that give Hoover a chance, he was the Reds closer as of not *too* long ago.

Xipooo: I’d give him one more chance. If he blows it again he goes to a reliever role.

Steven Burt: Remove him from the closer’s role and let him earn the opportunity to close games again with a string of good appearances. I commend them for thinking outside the box with regards to the bullpen, but that thinking was done with them not expected to compete. This team has shown it’s special, let’s give them the best chance to win games.

Jim: I’m done with him. Virtually anyone in the bullpen would be better, save Wilhelmsen and Delgado - and Randall might have passed him on the strength of this afternoon’s showing. We really only need a stopgap until Rubby De La Rosa and/or Jake Barrett are ready. Hoover, in particularly, seems to have a much better handle on pitching. Until Rodney demonstrates significantly better control, he needs to be relegated to mop-up as far as practical.

How should the team replace Shelby Miller?

James: I think, with the way this team has started this season, they need to go with the best option available. It would be very difficult to argue that Bradley is not the best option the team has available at this point. Start getting Bradley stretched out and put him into the rotation A.S.A.P. If he needs a start or two that are piggy-back starts of a sort, that’s fine. Godley is fine as an emergency starter, but he has no place as a rotation mainstay. Shipley might be considered, but I think the team has moved beyond him as a full-time starter.

Makakilo: Although I am excited about Anthony Banda joining the rotation, something changed my mind. Zack Godley pitched well enough to earn more opportunities to start. On 26 April, he pitched 5 innings with 2 ERs, 6 SOs, and 3 BBs. If Godley is chosen for more starting opportunities, then a decision needs to be made who will get a spot-start Thursday?

Keegan: We were honestly spoiled with the starting 5 that we had that included Miller. We essentially had five #2 to #3 type starters with him. No other team’s #5 could match up with anyone in our rotation. For that reason, I’m more willing to accept some regression there with his replacement. I would like to see Godley take Miller’s spot for the time being. He has the most experience in that role and has shown flashes of competency.

Charlie: Rotate around Godley/Shipley/Banda until one kind of sticks. I’d keep Bradley in the bullpen just because without him it becomes J.J. Hoover and woof.

Xipooo: I hear good things about Banda, but Godley did a serviceable job and has some experience at this level. Ideally we’d get a trade going for a 3rd or 4th rotation starter and give up a Hazelbaker, Drury, or Ahmed.

Steven: I like the idea of tapping into the one resource we have in the minors, either continue to use Zack Godley or bring up Anthony Banda. There’s also quite a few free agents who I wouldn’t mind taking a chance on including: Doug Fister, Jake Peavy, or Colby Lewis. Sure we shouldn’t expect them to pitch extraordinarily, but they can’t be fine 5th pitchers who hold the fort down and eat innings.

Jim: I’m with James and would rather see Bradley given a shot: he’s pitching so well in relief, the prospect of seeing whether that plays in a starting role is very seductive. But would it? That’s a legitimate question, and perhaps we should wait until the return of those mentioned above, which should generally improve the bullpen. Either Shipley or Godley in the meantime would be okay.

Arizona had its best April since 2008. Do you think it’s sustainable?

James: I think winning is sustainable. I don’t think winning at the clip they have been is. Too many things are going their way right now, with only Miller going to the DL and Rodney being inconsistent working against them so far. Once things start to normalize, winning is going to get tougher. Thankfully, the NL West is a complete mess right now.

Makakilo: Yes, the winning record is sustainable for two reasons.

  1. In April, the team faced a challenging schedule. Before the month started, I decided I would be bouncing off the ceiling with optimism if we had 14 wins in April. The D-backs have 16 wins!!
  2. Looking at the rest of the season, injuries beyond Shelby Miller have not hurt the team’s chances. And my pre-season projection had four starting pitchers with higher WAR than Shelby Miller – so maybe D-backs depth can makeup the loss.

Keegan: Not with Fernando Rodney destroying the end of the game. This offense is one of the best in the league and can put any team in a hole quickly. The starting rotation has a different mentality than last season and is wildly successful. The bullpen is the weakest link in a surprisingly successful team so far, and we can make a run if changes are made there.

Charlie: It’s gonna be hard, but sure? Got a few road series coming up that can put the fear of regression in you. The offense seems sustainable, and that isn’t nothing.

Xipooo: I don’t see why not.

Steven: I think they’ve hit too well to keep it up, as of today’s game, 7 of our regulars are batting .290 or higher. I just don’t see how we can expect that to continue. I do think the pitching will be roughly the same the rest of the season, so we’ll have opportunities to win games but not at the rate we’re currently going at.

Jim: The rotation is playing its pants off, far better than expected, the best in baseball by fWAR, going into today [which won’t have hurt]. The FIP and ERA are right in line, and the K-rate is the best in the league. Anyone see that coming? Thought not. Health permitting, no reason they can’t keep it up. The offense is also performing very well, and that probably will regress a bit. But there’s no doubt, this team is significantly better than I expected it would be.

Who were your team MVPs for the month?

James: That’s a tough one. I would probably have to go with A.J. Pollock. So far it has been largely a matter of the team going as he goes. As a table-setter, you can’t ask for much more than he has provided. He’s tied with Billy Hamilton for the most stolen bases in baseball. His OBP is over .350 while he is tied for seventh in baseball in doubles and hits. He still has some pop in his bat, and he’s still playing solid CF defense.

From a pitching standpoint, I give it to Walker. He’s been everything the Diamondbacks asked for and is showing real progress towards becoming the pitcher some dreamed he could be. Greinke, Walker, and Ray make a nice 1-3 in the rotation when they are going right.

Makakilo: For each game D-backs won, I tracked players who made an impact – it was just about everyone. So let’s look at it two more ways.

Every hitter with OPS+ greater than 100 is a MVP.

  • Goldschmidt - 155
  • Peralta - 133
  • Lamb - 125
  • Owings - 125
  • Tomas - 125
  • Hazelbaker - 123
  • Pollock - 110
  • Drury - 107

Every pitcher with ERA+ greater than 100 is a MVP. And as a success side note: Greinke, Ray and Walker average over 6 inning per game, and Corbin 5.8 innings per game.

  • Corbin - 164*
  • Greinke - 143
  • Godley - 134
  • Ray - 128
  • Walker - 116
  • Miller - 112

* = will be higher with Sunday’s game of 6.1 innings and no earned runs

  • Bradley - 386
  • Hoover - 235
  • JDLR - 168
  • Chafin - 123
  • Wilhelmsen - 101
  • TJ McFarland - No earned runs in one inning

Keegan: AJ Pollock on the position player side with David Peralta right behind for sure. They have made it fairly obvious that a significant portion of last season’s struggles can be attributed to losing them early in the season. They are spectacular on offense coming close to their 2015 levels. I can’t really settle on one player from the pitching staff. Hat tip to the entire starting rotation for pitching with a killer mentality. Out of the bullpen Jorge De La Rosa and Archie Bradley are the only two that give me any sense of confidence.

Charlie: Pollock, probably. I think his presence, and healthy one at that, contributed a lot to the team being better. Having a good bat and a Centerfielder who knows what the hell he’s doing contributes a lot.

Xipooo: I think Owings and Peralta have been the biggest spark plugs on offense. Pitching wise I’d say Corbin, especially with that pitching battle on Sunday.

Steven: Goldy and Greinke. Nice to have our stars actually hit and pitch like them.

Jim: Normal service has been resumed. Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best players in baseball again. Great to see A.J. back as well. But there have been any number of pleasant surprises: Owings is probably the one playing most above expectations, though as a non-roster invitee, got to give some made love to J.J. Hoover. He doesn’t suck. :)

Outside of Rodney, what are the areas of concern as we head into May?

James: The rotation (health) and regression to the mean by the offense. With Miller out until late next season at best, the team is now left with Bradley and Banda as viable rotation options. One of them will soon be in the rotation, leaving the other to be the only real depth if/when injury, ineffectiveness, or fatigue occur. On the offensive side of things, it’s sure fun to see these guys pounding the ball so much, but they are maintaining an unsustainable level of success in that department. Once some bats cool, or once the fickle baseball gods find it amusing, some of those numbers are going to come back down, and the team needs to be ready. Lastly, I am still worried about this team’s defense. Teams that play such sloppy defense over the course of an entire season generally run into difficulties, and also risk burning out bullpens.

Makakilo: Lack of depth.

Keegan: The absolutely awful umpiring league wide. I sit here typing this after the piss poor call when DJ Lemahieu intentionally ran into AJ Pollock. Unbelievable. The number of strikeouts by our batters is slightly concerning. Still waiting for this awful game to end, but we are currently 4th in the league at 229 + whatever we have in this game. I’d like to see some better plate discipline.

Charlie: The state of the world, food, shelter. That sort of thing.

Xipooo: Lack of offense out of the catching position seems to be causing a revolving door behind the plate. Pitchers like stability, and a good game caller.

Steven: I’m still reluctant to call our bullpen a finished product. There’s a reason these guys had troubles holding roster spots and those flaws will come up in no time. I’m perfectly fine for them proving me wrong however, but I just don’t see it. Another issue is one I alluded to earlier, I don’t think the offense will continue its torrid pace.

Jim: Defense seems to have settled down a bit, but there’s plenty of room for improvement there, at almost every position bar God-Emperor Goldschmidt. I’ll be happier when we have strengthened the bullpen with rehabbing relievers.

A tough road-trip this week, to Washington then Colorado. Hopes? Fears?

James: I hope for at least one of three in Washington and am quietly holding out a secret wish that the Diamondbacks can take two of three in Washington. When they head to Colorado, I’m hoping for some redemption. Colorado enjoyed the desert a bit too much for my liking. It’s time to find some Chase Field-like success in Denver. My fear is that Washington is stacked with strikeout artists in their rotation and the team looks awfully good so far this season. The Diamondbacks have a number of players with plenty of swing-and-miss in their game. This concerns me because I could see the Diamondbacks easily getting impatient and that resulting in a sweep in D.C. If they get swept there, I worry about them pressing too hard in Colorado and running into more difficulties. This is a stretch that could (if they are successful on the trip), get them into the conversation of being legitimate NL West contenders, but if things go poorly, could torpedo the rest of the season.

Makakilo: My hopes are that D-backs offense scores many runs, and starting pitching continues to be excellent, including whoever pitches in Miller’s spot. More specifically, the D-backs will win both series. And as always, D-backs need to prevent and avoid injuries.

My fears are that the starters have a couple short starts, the bullpen gets overworked and implodes, and many potential wins turn into losses.

Keegan: A successful road trip of 4-2 puts this team further into the late season discussion. Conversely, a complete lack of focus may demonstrate that they were pretenders all along and send the team in a downward spiral. I’d like to see us frustrate the heck out of Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth and watch them lose their cool. I’d be content with a 3-3 trip as well. The Nationals have lost series to both the Phillies and the Mets which gives me hope that we should be able to squeak 2 of 3 out of there.

Charlie: So long as Washington hasn’t been scoring runs at a historic clip we’ll probably be fine.

Xipooo: Washington concerns me more than the Rockies. I just don’t expect the Rockies pitching to hold up.

Steven: Do your best in Washington, I’d take 1 win honestly. And at Coors take care of business. Win at least 2 and show our dominance.

Jim: The Nats are certainly going to test our pitching, though a) it’s not Coors Field, and b) we should have starting pitchers whose count of functioning limbs surpasses three. I’d settle for a split, with the Coors games the most likely opportunity for a series win - they’re going to start losing one-run games eventually; next weekend would be fine by me.. And If we can return home carrying the severed head of D.J. LeMahieu, I wouldn’t object.

What’s your favorite Disney animated movie? And, no, Pixar doesn’t count.

James: I just had this conversation the other night. Not counting Pixar, it gets tough, since it truly depends on my mood. That said, I wouldn’t scoff at any of Snow White, The Black Cauldron, or Aladdin making the grade, with a hat-tip to The Lion King.

Makakilo: Shrek was made by DreamWorks Animation instead of Disney.... So my choice is Aladdin. The songs are amazing and memorable, the visuals are stunning, and the movie has a generous dollop of humor including Robin Williams. It is worthy because Aladdin is a good role model - both good character (smart, compassionate, and takes action) and overcame a poor beginning to his life.

Keegan: The prompt made this question tough to answer and disqualified many of my potentials. My obvious choice is The Emperor's New Groove. That film continues to amuse me to this day.

Charlie: Werner Herzog’s The Jungle Book.

Steven: Hunchback of Notre Dame. Have you listened to the soundtrack lately? It’s the best work I’ve ever heard from Disney, and that bar is set pretty high already.

Jim: I’m going old school. Bambi. It completely traumatized me when I was young. One of the first films I saw at the cinema. I think I was about five. Oh, look: Little April Showers! Lovely! Aw, he has made friends with a skunk and a rabbit! Adorable! Bambi on ice! So cute… And then, “Your mother can't be with you anymore.” I may have had to be carried from the theater, sobbing uncontrollably. I still won’t eat venison, to this day. Thanks, Walt. But that’s what great cinema does: affects you. Frozen? Not so much.

Xipooo: Aladdin.

Player of the Week (Apr 24-30)

David Peralta took 44% of the vote to move onto the leader-board in second place, ahead of A.J. Pollock who also is a new entry this week, getting 30%. Here are the tallies over the three rounds so far.

  1. Archie Bradley: 55%
  2. David Peralta: 44%
  3. Jake Lamb: 41%
  4. A.J. Pollock: 30%
  5. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  6. Zack Greinke: 23%
  7. Brandon Drury: 22%
  8. Taijuan Walker: 21%
  9. Paul Goldschmidt: 15%
  10. Nick Ahmed: 7%
  11. J.J. Hoover: 7%
  12. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  13. Robbie Ray: 3%

Here’s this week’s poll:

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week?

This poll is closed

  • 55%
    Patrick Corbin: 13.1 IP, 1.35 ERA, 15 K
    (64 votes)
  • 4%
    Randall Delgado: 3.1 IP, 1 H, 0.00 ERA, 5 K
    (5 votes)
  • 27%
    Paul Goldschmidt: 11-for-22, 7 RBI, 1.348 OPS
    (32 votes)
  • 9%
    Chris Owings: 8-for-25, 10 RBI, 1.130 OPS
    (11 votes)
  • 3%
    Taijuan Walker: 8 IP, 2.25 ERA, 11 K
    (4 votes)
116 votes total Vote Now

Player of the Month (April)

A special, bonus poll this week, to determine who was the D-backs player of the month for the first stage of the season...

Poll

Who was the Player of the Month?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Archie Bradley: 16 IP, 1.13 ERA, 19:3 K:BB
    (47 votes)
  • 22%
    Patrick Corbin: 35.1 IP, 2.29 ERA, 30:11 K:BB
    (24 votes)
  • 15%
    Paul Goldschmidt: .315/.462/.522, 4 HR, 19 RBI
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    David Peralta: .326/.382/.511, 3 HR, 7 RBI
    (11 votes)
  • 9%
    Yasmany Tomas: .291/.319/.581, 5 HR, 20 RBI
    (10 votes)
109 votes total Vote Now