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SnakePit Round Table, Week 6: That was the Greinke that was...

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The best pitching performance in a long time highlights this week. But there were lowlights as well...

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

What about that Greinke start against the Pirates?

Makakilo: Wow! Zack Greinke is pitching great! That game raised his ERA+ from 148 to 165.

  • Seven hitless innings was Greinke's longest no-hit bid of his career. The previous longest bid was 5 innings on Sept. 1, 2004. And Greinke’s start against the Pirates was better pitched with twice as many strikeouts (8 innings with 11 SOs, one BBs, and 1 hit) compared to (7 innings, 5 SOs, zero BBs, and 3 hits).
  • Before his start, I wrote: “Zack Greinke is pitching very well this season! One example is that in May, his groundball-percentage for fastballs-in-play is 50%, which is near his monthly best. The only two months of the season as good were May 2012 (50%) and July 2011(52%)….”
  • Another example of pitching well this season: In May 2017, the whiff percentage on his slider was 32%. In his career, the only other month that good was September 2009 (32%).
  • Side note: If Greinke’s first pitch is called a ball, framing of the next pitch can make a huge impact. Looking at splits in 2016, if the count reached 2-0, opposing batters hit a homerun in 5.9% of PAs. If instead, the count reached 1-1, opposing batters hit a homerun in 2.4% of PAs. The split in 2017 is nearly the same (5.0% and 2.5%).
  • Today’s observation: When called upon to pinch run, Greinke enters the field with style!

Keegan: He was truly robbed of a no hitter. Kudos to Polanco for golfing that pitch into the stands. Probably too many pitches low and inside. As long as Greinke continues to evolve and avoid the plate as much as possible, he may find continued success as his career progresses. He is only throwing over the plate 39% of the time. We should not expect that type of performance every time out, but he definitely performing like the pitcher most expected him to be when he signed here. His slider is a thing of beauty to watch this season.

James: I don’t care if it was Pittsburgh, Atlanta, or the Bronx Bombers. He dominated a MLB lineup and only lost out on a no-no because a good hitter went out and hit a pitcher’s pitch. I tip my cap to Polanco and I give major kudos to Greinke.

Jim: It may only have been the Pirates, but that’s still a major-league line-up, and to blank them like that was impressive. With Greinke having lost a spot of velocity this year, he’s going to need to pitch smarter, not harder - and this was an exhibition of exactly that. It gives me a bit of confidence that this contract perhaps isn’t going to be the albatross I’ve occasionally been concerned it resembles.

Nate: What do I think of a 1 hit, 8 inning outing? Meh, not bad. I’ll take it.

We’ve got just one spot in Play of the Year for a nominee from this game. Should it be Peralta’s catch or Mathis’s throw?

Makakilo: Mathis’s throw gets my nomination: 1) Josh Harrison stole 19 bases last season so throwing him out was a challenge, 2) Josh Harrison would have been the tying run in scoring position in the ninth inning so throwing him out was similar to a game save for a reliever, and 3) Mathis threw quickly and accurately from his knees which is not easy.

Keegan: I’m going to go with Peralta’s catch. Mathis’ throw isn’t really anything spectacular when you exclude the fact that Harrison was the tying run in the top of the 9th with 2 outs. It is a play that Yadier Molina makes look routine. Peralta’s catch reminded me of shagging fly balls at the park with my younger brother back in the day. Those low liners were so much fun because they came at you so fast and there was no room for hesitation. His play was more difficult of the two. His glove arm was at full extension and his body wasn’t exactly going towards the ball. Probably won’t end up being the Play of the Year, but it was phenomenal nonetheless.

James: Between the two, I go with Peralta’s catch. That said, I expect both to be outside of the top five before the season is out.

Jim: I think the leverage index gives it to Mathis’s throw (and let’s not forget the Drury tag on the far end). Even if Peralta’s catch was excellent - among the best of the year - the pressure of the situation made the throw more important. We’ve all seen Fernando Rodney meltdown, and I’d certainly not want to see him in the situation where a single would tie the game. If Mathis and Drury don’t make that play, I can easily imagine a scenario where we lost 3 of 4 at home to the Pirates.

Nate: I’d have to go with Peralta’s catch, that was a true dive, not an Eric Byrnes catch and then dive. Like James, I don’t see it being a main contender by the end of the season for Play of the Year.

Another D-backs batter was hit by a Pirate. Discuss.

Makakilo: First, hitting any batter in the head is unacceptable. Second, the Pirates seem to be one of the teams that consistently hit the most batters, so this persistent problem is especially egregious. Third, I am disappointed because the D-backs’ depth does not allow for more than a couple significant injuries. A previous discussion at the Snakepit talked about giving out yellow cards and red cards, like they do for soccer. To expound upon that idea, hitting any batter in the head should be a red card.

Keegan: I went back and watched the replay of Goldy getting plunked in the hand after that game. His reaction was something to behold because you could see the disgust and restraint in his body language at the same time. I am not an advocate of violent retaliation, but I think the Bartender’s was more than appropriate. He kept it below the belt against the Pirates’ own catcher. The HBP by the Pirates clearly was not intentional. It is an unfortunate part of the game, so I’m not sure that much can be done to prevent it.

James: The organizational philosophy for Pittsburgh is to pitch inside - hard and often. Until that changes, these sorts of incidents are going to continue to happen. It’s an approach that has worked for them for a decade now, they have very little incentive to change that. What they need to do is find pitchers with better command of their pitches though. Other teams can retaliate all they want. Retaliation will always be punished harder by the league, and none of that will come back on the people behind the scenes that have established this strategy.

Jim: We’ve seen it before, and frankly, while MLB continues to sit on their hands and do absolutely nothing, we’ll see it again. Pitching inside is a legitimate tactic. Breaking hitter’s faces is not, and even by accident, should have consequences. Suspensions - and I’m talking with the pitcher concerned NOT able to be replaced - need to be handed down for that kind of reckless endangerment.

Nate: I don’t think the Pirates pitchers step up to the mound with the mindset “I’m going to drill this guy.” On the other hand, I don’t think it’s just dumb luck or a coincidence that the Pirates have hit 25 more batters than any other team since the start of 2014. On the other other hand, I don’t feel that retaliation by teams is the right answer. Sure, you can say that hitting a player with a fastball in the butt is harmless; but what happens when one of these retaliation pitches gets away and hits someone in the head?

How comfortable are you with Zack Godley as fifth starter?

Makakilo: Starting pitching is great this season, so my expectations for fifth starter are higher this season than last season. In that context, I am excited about Zack Godley as a fifth starter. So far, he showed he is ready. He started two games this season with a 2.25 ERA. And his ERA+ of 209 is the best of all the D-backs starters. Although his ERA+ may not be sustainable, Zack Godley is a great choice for fifth starter. Caveat: I may not be totally objective because Zack Godley is one of favorites and I have his signed baseball card on my bookcase.

Keegan: Extremely comfortable. He has the most experience of all the options currently in the minor leagues. I feel that Archie Bradley has found his true niche as a bullpen ace and would like for him to remain in that role. Shipley and Banda are not ready to pitch every 5th day yet. We were truly spoiled with our starting 5 before Shelby Miller went down. Godley doesn’t have to be spectacular every time out to be a serviceable 5th man.

James: Not terribly. Of course, since the team has decided not to allow Bradley the opportunity to rejoin the rotation yet, Godley is the next-best solution the team has in-house. Godley has had some nice starts in his career, and not just this season. However, he’s still basically a two-pitch pitcher with stamina issues. Eventually the team is going to need to find a real fifth starter. (Here’s hoping Godley makes me eat my words)

Jim: We’ll see, I think, is the appropriate answer. I’ve been impressed with his first couple of outings - striking out 12 in 12 innings is better than you’d expect from a #5, and he certainly kept the D-backs in both games, which is really all you can ask for from a back-end guy. I’d prefer him to someone like Doug Fister, but I’m still not sure what the team intends to do with Archie Bradley. His outings this month, basically have way through May, have totaled just 2.2 innings, and it seems like Randal Delgado has taken over the long relief role (and has, it must be said, been doing a solid job there).

Nate: I am fine with it, Godley has earned the spot thus far this season. No reason to give the spot to someone else as long as Zack continues pitching well.

Are you happy with the way Torey Lovullo is resting players?

Makakilo: Though it is frustrating - it is what it is. The season is more marathon race than a sprint. Has his strategy prevented injuries? A low injury rate is one of this season’s high points is a worthwhile goal.

Keegan: I was at first, but now it is becoming a tad bit excessive. Peralta, Pollock, and Owings have been resting more than I expected. Descalso appears to be getting more playing time than expected because Lovullo doesn’t want to hurt his feeling I guess? I understand and welcome the idea of getting player’s adequate rest to prevent injury. It has just been too much for my liking recently. I fear too much rest having an adverse effect.

James: I whole-heartedly agree with the idea of taking fresher legs and arms into September. On the other hand, I am not sure about any lineup that has the fourth and sixth outfielders starting a game. Daniel Descalso is seeing far too manys ABS for a poor-hitting utility bench player as well. I like the idea of some set roles and of giving players somewhat predictable rest. I think Lovullo might be going a bit overboard though.

Jim: Well, as I write this we await news on A.J. Pollock, who limped out of today’s game with an apparent leg issue. So, it seems that the careful approach to his playing time - he was on pace for only 136 starts, going into today - didn’t work quite as hoped. One thing I don’t like, is the apparent tendency to cluster the off-days. There are times when the bottom half of the batting order has resembled a post-apocalyptic wasteland, because all the regular are off. Witness last Sunday in Colorado, where Blanco, Descalso, Ahmed and Herrman ALL started. It feels an awful lot like you are punting that game.

Nate: The strategy can be a little annoying when you get runners in scoring position late in the game, and you end up with Daniel Descalso at the plate with Nick Ahmed on deck. However, since it seems that the team is going to stick around and remain relevant this season, I am happy with keeping the players fresh for the home stretch.

Overall, do you feel Arizona should have done better this week?

Makakilo: I convinced myself that the D-backs could sweep the Pirates. Instead, maybe they win the series 3-1, they split the series. The Dbacks had opportunities to score more runs, but did not. And today, both Peralta and Pollock left the game with injuries. I am concerned. On the plus side, the D-backs are solidly above 500. And D-backs play well when they win and show character when they lose. Overall, this week could have gone better is an understatement.

Keegan: Robbie Ray should have done better this week. 9 innings pitched, 9 earned runs, 10 strikeouts, 8 walks, and 3 home runs. Arizona did not lose Walker’s start because of his pitching. If the team somehow manages to hit a walkoff in extras this game, we’ll close the week at 4-2 and all will be well again. Now we stand at 3-3 with potential injuries to David Peralta and AJ Pollock. We didn’t forget the nightmare that was the 2016 season without those two, did we?

James: Absolutely they should have. They should have swept the Pirates, though I could stomach the Saturday loss. However, the Sunday afternoon loss really hurts. This team really needed to go 5-1 or 4-2 at worst. The NL is just too weak right now to not take advantage of the timing. THis is supposed to be the easier part of the schedule, and the Diamondbacks are merely treading water, or slowly sinking. Right now it is tough to tell which.

Jim: If you’d asked me on Friday night, I’d have said things were looking fair, after we took the first two games against Pittsburgh. But these two losses have perhaps been the most dispiriting for me of the year, not least because of the injury to Pollock, but also the sudden struggles of Robbie Ray. Any team with real aspirations of contention should be beating the Tigers and Pirates at home, so while limping to a 3-3 split may not have lost us much ground on the Rockies, it feels like a massively wasted opportunity. We’ll need to do significantly better in the month ahead, because the schedule then gets tougher again. But we’ve seen plenty of premature proclamations about Mt. .500 before, so who’s to say this isn’t another one? Though it does say something that fan confidence is apparently such a tenuous thing.

Nate: You obviously want a better record than 3-3 against Detroit and Pittsburgh, but the losses seemed to boil down to a lack of timely hitting more than anything. Just a couple more base hits with RISP and this is easily a 5-1 week.

What can the team do to increase a) attendance and b) enthusiasm at Chase?

Makakilo: The three keys are increase fan engagement, increase fan comfort, and increase wins at home. My perception is that the D-backs are doing all three very well. They have involvement with community, fan giveaways, delightful food & drink, available shopping, and a winning record at home. It is difficult for me to think of better ideas. Fearlessly, I suggest 1) give-away seat cushions (increase comfort), and 2) offer more interview opportunities to the AZ Snakepit (remember when we interviewed Paul Goldschmidt).

Keegan: Build a new stadium with lower capacity in the Northeast Valley (sorry Jim). They could start selling general admission “ticket vouchers”. Basically select how many games you want to attend be it 10, 15, 20 etc. It can be any game and they simply deduct from your voucher when you attend. It’s kind of pointless at this point to pay full price for a ticket when the stadium is hardly half full. My response when I suggested that to a team employee was, “You can do exactly that with a partial season.” For a majority of families in the Valley, the price of a partial season even in the bleachers costs a pretty penny. The general admission voucher I speak of should be discounted when compared to a partial season. The ownership group needs to spend more on the on field product to get us around league average. That won’t necessarily guarantee winning, but it would demonstrate to fans a willingness to succeed to the fans.

James: Win.

I know that seems over-simplified, but it’s the truth. This is a bandwagon city. Winning won’t help this year’s season-ticket dropoff, but if the team keeps winning (especially in exciting ways at home) the walk-ups will increase. If the team keeps winning enough to find themselves in a playoff race in mid-to-late-September, there will be plenty of fans in attendance and the crowds will become electric.

Jim: The former question is perhaps easier to address than the latter. We got butts on seats yesterday and today, with close to 65,000 at Chase this weekend. So there is interest. Giveaways always seem popular, and and maybe offer some last-minute “flash offers” on tickets for walk-up sales: half-price seats, say, bought at the Chase Field box-office. Generally, I always thought that season tickets should be a LOT cheaper, than 83 x a single seat-price. That’s especially the case in a soft market like the current one, where the team are six years removed from their last winning record. As James notes, that makes a big difference.

Nate: A cool thing that the team already does which should help with students is the student pass. Twice a week when the D-Backs are at home, the team sends 5 dollar ticket offers to high school and college students who have signed up for the program. I would implement something like this for all ages by making one or two games a week super cheap, and I would also let kids in for free or for a few bucks. Going to a game with the family is ridiculously expensive. Enthusiasm-wise, winning is the answer. Games are the most fun when the stadium is packed with fans excited about the team's’ success. It is hard to get on your feet at a game to support a team 10 games under .500. When the team is winning like the D-Backs have been, games are far more enjoyable.

If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Makakilo: Homemade grilled pizza! It is delicious, delightful, and definitively great. It allows for wide variations on ingredients so each pizza can be a culinary adventure only limited by my imagination. Even the crust can be made of different ingredients, and the crust can be cooked to pretzel-consistency or seriously crunchy. And grilling is a splendid outdoor experience.

Keegan: I can only choose one thing? Probably the BBQ mix from L&L’s Hawaiian BBQ at Norterra since you’re going to pigeonhole my nutritional value. It comes with chicken, beef, short rib, macaroni salad, and white rice. Not my favorite meal in the world, but it would give me the best chance of survival considering the circumstances.

James: Not sure how to answer that. I am a well-known wing fanatic, but I think I would eventually tire of them. I would probably have to say sushi. I love sushi and I would still get variety.

Jim: Bacon? Yesterday, I was at dinner with Mrs. SnakePit, and she actually complained because her “Bacon Blast” sandwich had, and I quote, “too much bacon” on it. This is a concept around which I am struggling to get my head. On the plus (?) side, if all I ate was bacon, the rest of my life would likely be about three months before my arteries exploded.

Nate: Something which would offer me a variety. Can I say sandwiches? I’ll go with sandwiches. Grilled cheese, warm subs, cold subs, meatball subs, … yum.

Player of the Week

Goldschmidt dominated last week’s vote, with a season high 60% of the votes, which sends him surging to the top of the overall leaderboard. Here are the totals for everyone who has been nominated, after five rounds of voting.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt: 103%
  2. Patrick Corbin: 55%
  3. Archie Bradley: 55%
  4. Zack Greinke: 50%
  5. David Peralta: 44%
  6. Jake Lamb: 42%
  7. A.J. Pollock: 30%
  8. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  9. Taijuan Walker: 24%
  10. Brandon Drury: 22%
  11. Fernando Rodney: 10%
  12. Chris Owings, 9%
  13. Nick Ahmed: 7%
  14. J.J. Hoover: 7%
  15. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  16. Randall Delgado: 4%
  17. Robbie Ray: 4%

Goldie’s stay on top of the chart could be a short one, however. There’s probably not much doubt about who will be the winner this week, but the question is, how much of the vote will he get? Here’s the poll, all stats cover March 8-14.

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week, May 8-14?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Nick Ahmed: 5-for-12, 3 HR, SB, 1.750 OPS
    (9 votes)
  • 0%
    Randall Delgado: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
    (0 votes)
  • 10%
    Brandon Drury: 9-for-20, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1.426 OPS
    (5 votes)
  • 0%
    Zack Godley: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6:1 K:BB, 1.29 ERA
    (0 votes)
  • 71%
    Zack Greinke: 8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 11:1 K:BB, 1.12 ERA
    (35 votes)
49 votes total Vote Now