Has this been our best week since the opening one?
Hazzard21: Perhaps so. Offense is up, pitching has looked good, bullpen has put up good numbers. We keep fighting and clawing our way to be near the top of the division. Definitely don’t feel as big a sense of foreboding.
Keegan: I was going to originally say no because of the difficulty in competition , but we did face a San Francisco Giants team that week that was fairly awful. This week has featured a walkoff as did the first game of the season. I would say it has been our best week because the team has managed to battle it out in close contests and throw the Padres into a burning pit of doom. Early game scoring barrages tend to be followed up by a similar response from the victim team. The Arizona pitching staff has not given San Diego a sliver of hope. It's a thing of beauty.
Makakilo: In the first seven games of the season, we saw 6 wins and 1 loss against the Giants and the Indians. They were considered strong teams at the time. As the first of many indications that the D-backs are contenders, it will take a lot to top the first week. It’s going to take more than beating the struggling Mets and the Padres to top that. Albeit that the first inning offense did not allow room for worry. And the winning streak quickly led to fun what-if questions.
Michael: The Diamondbacks are hitting the soft part of the schedule right now, so you expect them to win a lot of games. The Mets and the Padres are a mess, so at worst to go 5-1 against those two teams is pretty good overall. The biggest issue for me is the Diamondbacks have struggled mostly against the top teams in the NL while fattening up on some of the weaker teams in the league.
Xipooo: Yes. Regardless of schedule they are performing how they should against these teams. It is easy for teams to not play to their potential when the competition isn’t as good. But this week they’ve just won everything.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Yes. They have been playing well this week, and have also been pitching well. I like that the team has stepped up in the absence of Pollock (and for a while Peralta).
Jim: It’s been a very solid set of performances, despite the disappointment at not being able to complete the sweep in San Diego. After we lost Pollock, and could only split the Detroit and Pittsburgh series, I was thinking we could be in serious trouble, but - not for the first time - this team has rallied when things seemed on the edge of problematic.
Which was the most impressive victory?
Hazzard21: I’d say the 10-1 victory over the Padres on Friday. Lamb homered twice for the first time in his career, pitching kept them off the board until the game was way out of reach, and overall it was the drubbing we should be putting on the Padres in a pitcher’s park
Keegan: It has to be the 5-4 walkoff against the Mets. Last year’s D’backs team would have laid down and died in that contest. The bullpen was able to come in and pitch scoreless innings allowing an unlikely game ending contribution from Chris Herrmann. I don't want to see that every time out, but winning close battles like that swings the pendulum.
Makakilo: Long and epic struggles impress me most. The 5-4 victory against the Mets in 11 innings was the most impressive this week. The 5 innings of relief with zero runs was the secret ingredient. A Yasmany Tomas double tied the score in the seventh to set the table. Chris Herrmann’s walk-off homer was a rich dessert in a delicious series sweep!
Michael: I probably go with the 7-3 win on Monday against the Mets. The Dbacks lost Pollock to a groin injury and Peralta to a bad butt cramp the day before and things could have spiraled out of control. Then of course Zack Godley ends up making the Mets look laughably bad at the plate after a bit of a command lapse in that 2nd inning of the game. After Godley settled things down, the Dbacks got into the Mets bullpen in the 8th and that’s when the Dbacks put up some big hits and 6 runs that set the tone for the series and the week.
Xipooo: I’d say the 7-3 game that Godley pitched against the Mets. He struggled to get a pitch across for a strike to start, but still ended up throwing 6 2/3rds. There were 4 home runs and the whole team went 13 for 36 at the plate.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I would say that the 5-4 win in the series finale over the Mets was the most impressive. This was a tough game from the get go because we had to face Harvey, and Corbin didn’t have good stuff. But the team found a way to fight back and managed to push it to extras even without the offense being on fire. Dare I say a “gritty” win? This to me, is the kind of win in the last few years that would not have happened. I could easily have seen the team fall apart and settle for a series win, but this year things seem a little different.
Jim: I’ll take the 10-1 win over the Padres on Friday night, simply for pure enjoyment. An eight-run first inning is a hell of a way to make an opening statement, and even though it was against San Diego, Petco is an extraordinarily difficult place to put up double-digits. We’ve only done it three times since the park opened - but twice this season, impressively.
Taijuan Walker is walking almost as many as he K’s this month, though his ERA is better than April. Is this cause for concern?
Hazzard21: Yeah just a bit. It seems like he’s trying to work the edges of the zone more and isn’t getting them, rather than just attacking hitters and powering through each inning. Maybe the front office is trying to interfere again (see McCarthy, Brandon), maybe he just doesn’t trust his stuff as much, but if his next start is more of the same, that’s when I’ll really be concerned
Keegan: What does Diamondbacks umpire say about his close to the zone calls? His pitches appear to have a decent amount of movement. Personally, I'm not overly concerned. Zack Greinke isn't throwing meatballs over the plate either, but he is doing just fine. As long as Tai continues to change eye levels and get more swings, he should be just fine. Walks aren't the worst way to put a runner on base. He needs to limit his home runs to solo shots. Do I sound biased yet?
Makakilo: It is worth looking at because in May he walked 11 batters in 22.1 innings, which is an increase from April when he walked 7 batters in 29.2 innings. I see both possibilities:
- Concerned. His strikeout/walk ratio fell from 3.0 in April to 1.9 in May. At 3.0, the only D-back starter better is Zack Greinke. At 1.9, the only D-back starter worse is Shelby Miller.
- Not concerned. Did he change his approach to reduce homers? Taijuan Walker has allowed only one homer in May, after allowing three in April. If reducing homers requires more walks, it could be a good tradeoff.
AZ Snakepit news flash. Taijuan Walker was placed on the 10-day DL because a blister on his right index finger. GM Mike Hazen said Walker had been dealing with it for a few weeks. While the DL seems bad, my view is optimistic that Walker’s blister problem can be permanently fixed.
Michael: Walker’s ERA might be regressing towards his April peripherals and his peripherals towards his April ERA. I do think sometimes he fights himself on the mound instead of trusting his stuff. Walker is very much a vertically-oriented pitcher, using his offspeed down the zone and his fastball up in the zone. I do want to see the walks come down because he’s a tough pitcher to hit when in the strike zone.
Xipooo: Taijuan has progressively gotten less strikeouts per nine over his career so this shouldn’t be a real surprise, but he is getting about 50% of his outs on the ground. That is actually a good sign IMO since it tends to lead to better efficiency and longer outtings.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I think that the answer was revealed earlier today when the team put Walker on the 10-day DL with a blister. I know from first hand experience how much of an effect something like that can have on your throwing, and that was just as a lowly high school ball player! I can only imagine how much of an effect it would have on a major league pitcher. Honestly the fact that it hasn’t affected him more is impressive to me, and I think that if he can get it to heal and put it behind him we could see a really solid June from Taijuan Walker. His stuff is still good, so if he can come back ready to go then I expect big things from him.
Jim: I’d like to point out I asked this question before Walker went on the DL this afternoon. Apparently, it has been bothering him for a few weeks, which would explain the sharp change in his peripherals between April and May. I’m just hoping it is something which can be fixed, and we’re not talking about a chronic, Rich Hill-like situation. If the blister is the result of a change in Walker’s mechanics, then undoing it could cause more problems than it solves.
Archie Bradley has only thrown 3.2 innings in May. What’s up with that?
Hazzard21: Seems like Lovullo and Co want to use him more like a regular bullpen pitcher and trust him in higher leverage situations, and have turned back to Delgado to be the long man as evidenced by his 3 innings on Friday night. But he definitely needs to get some more work in no matter the situation, and perhaps stretch him out to 2 or 3 innings, if they’re still thinking he should be a starter. If they want him as a bullpen guy/potential closer, they should come out and say so and use him as such.
Keegan: Lovullo hasn't had to use him as a long arm mop up. It's a result of using him in higher leverage setup situations, and it's paying dividends as his stuff is playing up. He was hitting 99 mph against the Mets on Tuesday in a one run contest, and has found his true calling in those scenarios.
Makakilo: Archie Bradley has the highest ERA+ of all the D-backs pitchers. I would save him for high impact situations when more than one inning is needed. Assuming he will need rest days after pitching several innings, using him too frequently could cost lost opportunities.
Michael: Part of that is due to the success the rest of the bullpen is having. JDLR has been the Dbacks 2nd best relief pitcher this season while he and Bradley are often the bridge to the closer. If the Dbacks are intent on making Bradley a short reliever this season, then he should be able to work back to back games and 3 out of every 5. Lovullo should be pretty good at avoiding overuse. Bradley is going to be a critical component if the team finds itself in a playoff run.
Xipooo: It does seem like Archie has turned into Lovullo’s ace in the hole. It could be there just hasn’t been as many high leverage situations this month.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Yeah what the heck?!?! I know that he is best used in those “high leverage” situations that we all know Lovullo has been waiting for, but at the same time, I think you have to get him in there as much as possible. He has been absolutely lights out from the bullpen, and he needs to see as much time to get the most value out of him, even if it is not the “ideal” 2-3 inning stint.
Jim: I think the team eased back on Bradley’s use after realizing he was on pace for an untenable workload. In April he threw 16 innings, and we haven’t had a reliever throw more than that over the first month in over a decade (Jason Grimsley reached 17 in 2006 - I really hope THAT isn’t an omen!). But Delgado threw hardly any less (15.2), and he has reached 11 innings in May. I’m curious to see what happens for Wednesday’s start: Delgado/Bradley tandem, perhaps?
We’ve hit the one-quarter mark now, and still occupy a playoff spot. Who has been the biggest pleasant surprise?
Hazzard21: Definitely the pitching, specifically Greinke in the rotation and De La Rosa in the bullpen. Greinke has really turned it around from last season, and the reports of his death might be greatly exaggerated, at least this season. De La Rosa, with his extra velocity, has been very solid in pretty much any situation he’s in, and should continue to have trust and deal when he’s called upon
Keegan: It's the entirety of the pitching staff for me. I feared that the bullpen was going to be the coup de grâce for this team’s postseason hopes, but they have settled in nicely. I attribute it to the combination of the Dan Haren hiring and improved game calling behind the plate. Competence on the mound puts this team in a position to win every game behind an offensive juggernaut. The past 2 games against San Diego have demonstrated that.
Makakilo: In some ways, Zack Greinke is pitching the best he ever has. Although I expected better than last season, he has certainly exceeded my expectations. However, as far as the biggest pleasant surprise, it is Zack Godley. After Shelby Miller’s injury, it was vital that a decent replacement starter be found. Zack Godley is more than decent, and that is the most pleasant surprise. His ERA+ is 244 (wow!) and he has averaged more than 6 innings per start (great!). Without him, would we still be talking about the D-backs as contenders?
Michael: Everything is better this year. Health, Paul Goldschmidt playing at an MVP level again, and the starting pitching. Starting pitching has carried the team so far, with Greinke pitching closer to his Dodger norms even at 90 MPH instead of 93. While I’m concerned with Patrick Corbin’s fit in the rotation, right now he’s getting you 6 innings while pitching at league average rates. Walker hasn’t taken the next step yet, but he’s an upgrade over Bradley’s production from last year. Of course the biggest surprise for now is Zack Godley. His command is still pretty shaky overall, but he’s been dominating with his curveball. I’m hoping Godley takes the next step and improves his command good enough to get ahead in counts early. With Godley there is no floor and no ceiling at the MLB level.
Xipooo: I think Owings is perhaps the best surprise of this year. We’ve been waiting for him to have a break-out year since injuring his shoulder. He’s become a very versatile player both in the field and in the lineup.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I think that you could make a case for almost everyone on the roster. The pitching has been really good, with Greinke pitching like an ace, Walker and Ray showing big flashes of excellence, and Bradley being a killer out of the pen.Goldy is back to his MVP self after a slightly down year for him. Lamb has hit well, Owings has hit well, and the offense as a whole has been really good (albeit inconsistent at times). Overall, everything coming together nicely has been the surprise for me.
Jim: It’s hard to single any one person out. It feels like everyone has been playing better than expected. But I’d go with Bradley. It felt like his going to the bullpen was a consolation prize for not making the rotation, but he has completely grabbed those lemons and made lemonade. I’m not sure what his long-term role will be. 2018 closer, maybe? Back to the rotation? But he certainly seemed to have significantly more of a big-league future than on Opening Day.
Has anyone been a significant disappointment?
Hazzard21: Besides injured guys, I’d say Brandon Drury, although lately he’s been turning it around. His defense is only just barely starting to pass the eye test and metrics haven’t been kind to him. He hasn’t been hitting for a lot of power, and he is still striking out way too much. He really needs to start taking more walks and getting more extra base hits, or we soon could be seeing Ketel Marte in the majors
Keegan: A.J. Pollock’s health. It's beginning to become a major annoyance for me. Someone floated the idea of throwing a QO his way after the 2018 season, but I'm not sure I'd go that far. I would personally try to sign him to a steep hometown discount before he hit the open market. In no way do I advocate that the Diamondbacks enter a bidding war for his services should he hit the open market. Let someone else take that risk.
Makakilo: No. Although he has played well, so far Drury is slightly less than my expectations. However, I see potential improvement and my disappointment is not significant.
Michael: I’d be hard-pressed to find a significant disappointment. I could nitpick a couple things, but that’s about it.
Xipooo: Possibly Bracho. He just doesn’t seem to perform well enough at this level and he’s been given enough chances to prove himself. I think it’s about time to consider him at best just a trade piece.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I would say no. While there have been disappointments, like Miller’s injury after a good start to a rebound year or Pollock being injured, I don’t think that there have been any disappointing players in my eyes.
Jim: Jake Lamb’s continued struggles against left-handed pitching. It’s partly a result of his utter dominance against righties, which makes the drop-off so aggravating. This has been an issue almost since the very start of his career, and the longer it goes on, the more likely it feels as if we’re just going to have to accept it.
Socrates Brito is beginning a rehab assignment. How do you see him fitting into the team?
Hazzard21: If he can hit at all, he would probably replace Blanco as the 4th OFer/lefty bench bat. He left a lot to be desired in the bigs last year, and he has to show he can avoid more injuries. Ideally he starts in Left and we trade Tomas (yes, I’m in that camp, you’ll live lol) and Blanco can stay as the 4th OFer.
Keegan: He’ll make appearances with the parent club make no mistake about it, but don't expect him to be gifted the 4th OF spot when he is healthy. He has yet to demonstrate that he is serviceable in that role in the majors this far into his career. I doubt the current front office allows him to acquire service time on his clock should he not be performing. On the flip side, impact contribution from him of the bench would be a welcomed addition.
Makakilo: With Pollock on the DL, the D-backs need depth in the outfield. When Pollock is at 100%, who is the fourth outfielder is an interesting question. Even Chris Owings is in the mix.
Michael: I think Brito will spend most of the year in AAA, barring injuries. Defensively he’s an improvement over Blanco and Hazelbaker, but Brito still needs everyday ABs and missed most of Spring Training. I don’t like the idea of playing Brito on the bench in the majors vs. playing him everyday in Reno like they’re already doing with Ketel Marte. Fuentes and Blanco are better stopgap options for the time being.
Xipooo: Brito is probably going to stay down in Reno unless we have another injury or if Fuentes doesn’t start picking it up offensively.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I don’t think that he will be anything more than organizational filler for this year at this point. When he has come up to the big leagues he hasn’t shown too much success, and the team appears to have too many people ahead of him right now (A.J. (when healthy), Peralta, Tomas, Hazelbaker, Fuentes, Blanco, etc…). For now, I think he will have to stay in AAA, but maybe he can take a struggling Blanco or Fuentes if the team goes that route.
Jim: I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up replacing Fuentes, who has looked unimpressive at the plate thus far, and appears to be another victim of Reno Stats Bloat. Though to be honest, I’d rather we had some kind of right-handed option to bat leadoff. As we saw today, Blanco isn’t it, against left-handers. Maybe Chris Owings instead? Though I’d rather have someone with a better walk-rate.
Hazzard21: Lol no. Braun the cheater has been hurt again, and sure Thames has been hitting home runs, but at the end of the day, the pitching hasn’t been good enough and they’ll still be selling by the time the All Star Break comes around. The Reds and the Cubs are better and will soon be asserting that atop the division. Even St. Louis might finally get it together a bit and really pull off a run here.
Keegan: No, and I'm counting on Arizona to initiate Milwaukee’s downward spiral. Thames has cooled off significantly. Broxton’s performance this month comes on the heels of a ~.500 BABIP. The Brewers are easily one of my least favorite National League teams because of what they did to us in 2011. Joe Maddon and the Cubs will pass them in the fast lane in short order.
Makakilo: With a big “if,” they are a real contender for the post season. “If” they fix their biggest weakness - the starting rotation. They are currently shaking it up by moving Wily Peralta to the bullpen, designating for assignment Tommy Milone (their only left-handed starter), and on 19 May Paolo Espino made his debut in the Majors. They have a great bullpen, and some good hitters. Their best hitter is Eric Thames. Their second best hitter is Ryan Braun, who may return soon from the DL. They did not trade him before he gained full 5 & 10 no trade rights, so it looks like they are going for it this season instead of rebuilding.
Michael: It’s hard to tell, they don’t exactly have the pieces necessary for a playoff run. Their only All-Star caliber player is Braun, although Thames has been a bright spot for them this year. However, teams are carried by starting pitching, which is where the Brewers are weak at compared to their division foes. I see the Cardinals and/or Cubs making a run soon and passing the Brewers.
Xipooo: Honestly I’m not sure. I haven’t been paying attention to them.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Define for real… A major league team, then yes. Winning the division over the Cubs and Cardinals? No. I think they could be around .500 at the end of the year, but I don’t think they will stay as hot as they’ve been. But, I can’t be too harsh because I’m sure people are saying the same exact thing about us.
Jim: They’re likely better than expected, and they do have the best run differential in the National League Central. But I suspect Eric Thames is going to continue his decent back to Earth, and I am pretty sure Chase Anderson won’t end the season with an ERA just above three. They’ll gently crumble, I suspect.
Alien: Covenant opens this weekend. Is Ridley Scott now flogging a dead xenomorph?
Hazzard21: I mean, I’ve only seen the first Alien once, so I’m not really sure my opinion would matter much, but if he still has ideas and studios wanna pay for him to tell his stories, go for it dude more power to you.
Keegan: I've actually never watched any of the Alien movies, but I might go and see this film to follow up Prometheus. Admittedly, this is a cult series I have not gotten into and was surprised to learn that the latter film ties in to that storyline. Not gonna pretend that I have anymore basic knowledge than that.
Makakilo: Variety said the best scene is when David teaches Walter to play the flute. What makes that more interesting is that both characters are played by the same actor. One quote from the movie, “There’s so much here that does not make sense.”
Michael: The chances of me watching it are less likely than Jered Weaver not giving up a first inning run to the Dbacks on Friday.
Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I think the only words from that sentence that I understand are “opens”, “weekend”, “now”, and “dead”. But whoever this Ridley Scott fella is, it sounds like he might be in trouble. By Aliens. And Xenomorphs. Because dead. The end.
Jim: Saw it on Saturday. It felt almost like a reboot. I mean, when you see a pod opening up, and someone leaning over it to peer in, the urge to wave your finger and yell “Don’t do it!” was almost overpowering. Scott’s an amazing visual director, no doubt, but outside of The Martian, I’m not sure about the last film of his I saw which I liked for more than that. Gladiator?
Player of the week
No great surprise as to who took home Player of the Week honors in last week’s poll. Zack Greinke’s no-hit bit scooped up a massive 71% of the poll, allowing him to leap to the top of the season leaderboard. Here are the standings after Week 6’s results are all included.
- Zack Greinke: 121%
- Paul Goldschmidt: 103%
- Patrick Corbin: 55%
- Archie Bradley: 55%
- David Peralta: 44%
- Jake Lamb: 42%
- Brandon Drury: 32%
- A.J. Pollock: 30%
- Nick Ahmed: 25%
- Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
- Taijuan Walker: 24%
- Fernando Rodney: 10%
- Chris Owings, 9%
- J.J. Hoover: 7%
- Yasmany Tomas: 7%
- Randall Delgado: 4%
- Robbie Ray: 4%
I think it’ll probably be a fairly one-sided vote this week as well, but that’s why we have the poll! Here are the candidates, for the week of May 15-21.
Who was the Player of the Week, May 15-21?
This poll is closed
Chris Herrmann: 4-for-9, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1.833 OPS
Jake Lamb: 7-for-17, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1.742 OPS
Robbie Ray: 7.2 IP, 2 H, 6:3 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
Fernando Rodney: 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
Taijuan Walker: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 3:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA