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SnakePit Round Table: Road trip has a rocky finish

Back to back series losses in Washington and Colorado has the D-backs ready for some home cooking.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
We won one of three in Washington. Was that a glass half-full or half-empty series?

Keegan: It’s a glass half full series for me. We limited the best offense in the league to 9 runs over a 3 game span. Make no mistake about it, that Washington is a much better team than the Diamondbacks. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the passion from Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray which was missing from the team last year. We could have just as easily come away from that series with 2 wins or possibly even swept the Nationals.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I feel like it was a glass 80% full series. But that glass has some cracks at the bottom and is leaking some of that precious water. They pitched remarkably well, holding baseball’s best offense to just 9 runs in total. But they had a couple of defensive miscues, and their offense seems to struggle a bit on the road. So while I remain positive on this team, there are a couple of minor things now that could cascade into larger issues down the road (Namely defense, and a more consistent offense).

Steven Burt: Glass half empty for me. Good teams win close games and don’t accept moral victories. When we’re a couple games out of a playoff spot at the end of the year, we can look back at a couple of these early games and wonder what could have happened.

Jim: It was a stern test of our pitching, and I think they showed they can go up against almost any rotation. Holding the best offense in the league to nine runs over three games, in their ballpark was a very solid performance. But I think it did also show that there are aspects of the game where we just weren’t as good as the Nationals. That’s fair enough: I wouldn’t be surprised to see them going up against the Cubs in the NLCS.

Makakilo: My perspective is the glass is half full. The Nationals lead the Majors in wins. They have a great team. Winning one of three, and losing two close games was encouraging. When the D-backs play in the post-season, they won’t be embarrassed.

James: It’s tough to say, but I think it was a half-full type series. The team fell ill. Despite what their run-total might suggest, the Diamondbacks are not great hitters. Washington has been hitting a ton. Arizona faced Scherzer in one of those games. Despite all that, they were honestly in a position where they should have won two games.

Braden Shipley made his 2017 MLB debut. What did you think? Will there be another?

Keegan: He needs to continue refining his craft down in the minors. Probably a good example of why Anthony Banda should remain down there longer as well, and why Godley needs to be the choice to take over for Shelby Miller. Shipley looked extremely uncomfortable. I had the game recorded on DVR due to the early start, but even fast forwarding through all the commercials it appeared that the half innings he pitched were agonizingly long. Perhaps going up against one of the premier pitchers in baseball got into his head. However, it would be foolish to think we would not see him in the majors again.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I didn’t get a chance to see his start, but the stat line was about what I expected. A young pitcher making his first start of the year against a very good Washington team. With the loss of Shelby Miller I do expect there to be another, but I don’t know that he is at a place where he has earned a firm spot in the rotation.

Steven: Shipley showed outstanding stuff, but had trouble locating it. Maybe he was amped up from his first appearance of the season at the MLB level, but he’s running out of time to make a starting pitcher out of him. Maybe he’s better suited for a relief role?

Jim: Not enough strikes. Maybe it’s a case of MiLB hitters swinging at those pitches out of the zone, which MLB hitters lay off? But I’m wondering if we’re going to continue taxiing Godley and Shipley for alternate starts, so the D-backs can keep using eight men out of the bullpen. I see Godley is being called up again for the next outing, so we’ll see. I still think the long-term solution will be Archie Bradley, but that might only happen when we have JDLR and Jake Barrett back in the bullpen.

Makakilo: If we are talking another debut, such as Banda: Yes, it will happen this season! No matter how good or bad the season looks in September, the D-backs will want to give Banda some experience at the Majors level. If we are we talking another start by Shipley: Yes, it will happen this season! The first reason is it takes years for a pitcher to be consistently at the top of his game, and he should not be counted out after one inconsistent game, or even after a just OK season like 2016 was for Shipley. The second reason is the D-backs do not have a lot of starting pitchers ready for the Majors.

James: I’m still not sold that Shipley is going to stick in the rotation. I hope I am wrong. I hope the slight tick up in his velocity is sustainable, and that he can regain the control he once was known to have. I’m not opposed to seeing him get a couple more shots at making the rotation eventually, but he needs to rediscover his command and control first. He needs to trust his stuff more and throw strikes. If he keeps his regained velocity, he will have some margin for error if he does.Otherwise, walks are going to kill him.

Patrick Corbin had one great start vs. Colorado and one stinker. Who is the real Corbin?

Keegan: Split the difference and you have your answer. Coors Field is an awful place to pitch. I contrasted his start there with Greinke’s the evening prior. Greinke had his slider working while Corbin unfortunately did not. When he can tuck that slider behind the back foot of a right handed batter, he is nearly unstoppable. I am confident Corbin will put the outing behind him and move on.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I’m with Keegan. I don’t think Corbin will have another stinker as bad as the 8-run implosion on Saturday, but I also don’t expect him to blank the Rockies every time out. Outside of that rough outing, Corbin has looked pretty good to start the year, so somewhere in the middle is my answer too.

Steven: Everyone was quick to announce the old Patrick Corbin was back, but I’m not convinced. Ask me again in June and I’ll be more sure of my answer.

Jim: Coors gonna Coors - though as mentioned over the weekend, Corbin had the best start ever by a Diamondback there, back in 2013. At least his ERA (3.89) is now back in line with his FIP (4.00), so I’m hoping this was just a case of getting all the regression out of the way in one unpleasant lump.

Makakilo: What pitcher has not had a bad game in Colorado? Instead let’s look at this season. The real Patrick Corbin is the one who led all the D-backs starters with an ERA+ of 164 (on 30 April 2017).

James: He’s something of a pitcher in-between. Plenty of great pitchers have been blown up in Colorado. On the other hand, I never for a moment believed that he was going to sustain his sub-three ERA either. To be honest, if Corbin can give 160-180 innings of 3.50 baseball, I think he will have hit his ceiling.

Jake Lamb had a rough week, with a golden sombrero on Saturday. Cause for concern?

Keegan: Lamb is a streaky hitter and has failed to demonstrate that he can perform consistently this far into his career. That is not me saying that he is not a good player because he is. He can be one of the best power hitters in the league when he is on. I do not feel that it is a cause for concern because everyone besides Pollock and Goldy have essentially been useless this road trip.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Not quite yet. We faced some tough pitchers in Washington, and he faced a lefty yesterday (uh oh), and it looks like he is a bit off. He has been a streaky hitter in the past, and I don’t think that this is any different. Now, if he has another rough week with almost no offensive production, then I will start to get a little worried.

Steven: Just a long roadtrip wearing down on Lamb. He should bounceback soon enough.

Jim: It seems the entire clubhouse had health issues this week, which is why I’m not inclined to panic too much about a disappointing road trip. It’s hard for anyone to do their job when they are feeling less than 100%, and that applies doubly so for top-flight athletes. I do still have concerns about his performance against left-handed pitching, but there aren’t much in the way of better options.

Makakilo: No concern. First, I think he pressed too hard for a hit because he wanted to avoid two consecutive hitless games (sadly he did not avoid it). He got a hit today, breaking the hitless game streak at 2. Second, this season still looks good because last season he had two hitless games streaks of 5/6, and two golden sombreros.

James: I am no more concerned about Lamb at this point than I am anyone else in the lineup. He’s had a rough ten days or so, but he has not fallen completely off the map. He hasn’t had a multi-hit game in that span, but he has continued to take some walks and also hit three of his home runs during that span. Given that he is sporting a .150 BABIP during his slump, I am willing to continue letting him work on things without sitting him. Maybe he could move down in the lineup a slot or two , but that assumes that there is someone else hitting any better to replace him.

Gregor Blanco joined the roster. What does he bring to the team?

Keegan: Other than a rather poor throwing arm? I have not looked up the stats to backup my accusation, but some of his throws in from yesterday’s game were questionable in my eyes. Hopefully he can provide that “veteraness” and “grit” that Arizona fans love so dearly.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): A left-handed bat and better defense than Tomas.

Steven: Seems like an omission that we miss Ender Inciarte. His ability to play all 3 defensive positions will give guys plenty of days off, especially A.J Pollock, who is playing like it’s 2015.

Jim: A semi-credible alternative to A.J. Pollock, in terms not just of playing center-field, but batting leadoff. For instance, he saw 20 pitches in his three at-bats this afternoon in Coors. Now, he’s clearly not going to be as good a hitter, base-runner or fielder. But he should be a step up on Jeremy Hazelbaker in all three categories.

Makakilo: He brings depth. This season, one RBI in 6 Plate appearances through today shows good offense. He is an experienced outfielder with “defensive acumen.”

James: He brings fresh legs and a respiratory system not subjected (until now) to the flu that has been ravaging the team. Also, he brings a more rounded 4th OF to the squad that the team had in Jeremy Hazelbaker. That said, I’m not sure why he needed to start over Pollock on Sunday.

Jake Barrett’s rehabbing. When ready, who does he replace and what will his role be?

Keegan: Tough call that would have been easier a few weeks ago. Performance wise I would have to say Chafin. I am inclined to believe Lovullo when he said that Barrett was not guaranteed a spot in the bullpen once he is back up to speed. It would be preferred to not have to rush him back and have him stashed ready to go when someone in the bullpen eventually gets gassed.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I don’t know how the options situations look, but I would be inclined to think that he would either replace Chafin or McFarland. With Jorge De La Rosa pitching well out of the bullpen as a lefty, I think that one of them are dispensable and could be some minor league depth in case of any injuries.

Steven: It wouldn’t surprise me if Delgado got demoted. Despite the 3 scoreless innings, he’s been a disappointment ever since coming over from the Braves.

Jim: I can see him becoming a set-up man for Rodney, but will probably need to prove himself first. It may depend on whether the team sticks with eight arms or goes back to seven. Got to think T.J. McFarland and Tom Wilhelmsen are likely the first men out, though the former has been solid enough. I like the fact he hasn’t allowed a walk to any of the 19 batters faced. Few things annoy me more than relievers who can’t throw strikes. Maybe that’s just me…

Makakilo: Last season, Jake Barrett entered in the ninth or later a dozen times. Ten times he allowed zero earned runs. That looks like he could be a backup closer. I’d keep Fernando Rodney as primary closer because he has a higher SO/9 and he has much more experience.

James: That’s a difficult one to answer, especially since Lovullo, Hazen, and company have been so cagey on what they want to do about the rotation and bullpen. Ideally, he would replace Bradley in the bullpen and force Bradley back into the rotation. However, it seems that is not going to be happening. So, if Bradley stays in the bullpen, I would probably have Barrett replace Wilhelmsen straight-up. Either way, Wilhelmsen gets sent out, but in the second case it is just a straight swap of roles. I would see if Barrett is up to the task of some higher leverage situations though so that the team can try him out as a closer-type once Rodney finishes imploding or is traded.

It’s back home for series against Detroit and Pittsburgh. How many wins in the six games?

Keegan: We need at least 4 wins against them at this rate. Detroit’s lineup in Chase Field is a scary thought. The team cannot take these opponents lightly. I am slightly concerned that the first pitcher we face in the midst of an offensive slump is Justin Verlander. Verlander has pitched very well in his previous two outings. A poor showing the rest of this month and we will watch the wild card race run away from the team.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I again have to agree with Keegan, we need to aim for 4, and anything less would be very disappointing. We haven’t won a series in quite a while (pending the outcome of the current game - down 4-0 in the bottom of the 7th in Colorado), and we need to get back on track.

Steven: Boy I hate to call these must-win games, but let’s take advantage of our home field and get back in the NL West race. 4 wins is minimum for me.

Jim: Here’s the hard fact. Since the 6-1 opening homestand, the D-backs have gone 12-14, which is about the pace we were thinking pre-season, and conceded as many runs as they’ve scored. Part of that is a tough stretch of opponents, admittedly. But they need to take advantage of this softish stretch of schedule, and I’d love to seem them go 5-1.

Makakilo: D-backs will feast on Tigers and Pirates! I boldly predict 5 wins. Details follow:

Tigers: D-backs hit better (ranking 4th vs 13th in runs) and D-backs pitch better (ranking 3rd vs 30th in ERA+). Yes, I double checked those numbers!

Pirates: D-backs hit better(ranking 4th vs 27th in runs) and D-backs pitch better (ranking 3rd vs 7th in ERA+). The Pirates have one great starting pitcher (Ivan Nova), and a great bullpen. What will make the difference is D-backs’ offense (one of the best in the Majors vs the worst). Also, Pirates lack depth because eight Pirates are injured, optioned, suspended, or on the restricted list.

James: On the whole, I think a 4-2 record would be just fine. Realistically, if this team wants to stay in playoff contention, I honestly think they need to go 5-1 on this next homestand. The pitching needs to continue to hold up. The team needs to get healthy, and the bats need to wake up.

If you could live in any historical time and place, where would you choose?

Keegan: Growing up as a baby boomer does not seem that it would be too raw of a deal to me. They will get to miss most of the mess my generation will have to put up with. I have always been fascinated with the Roman Empire. Gladiator is my all time favorite movie, so it would have been awesome to live during that time.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): 2001, Phoenix, Arizona. So I can watch the Dbacks win the World Series again! … Or my real answer: Probably on the Lewis and Clark caravan. I would love to be exploring uncharted territory and exploring they way they did.

Steven: Send me back to yesterday so I can revert all the stupid stuff I did.

Jim: It kinda depends on the scenario. Like Keegan I wouldn’t mind Rome at its height - coincidentally, Gladiator is actually playing in the background as I type, on BBC America! - but if it’s random selection, odds are good I’d be a slave = not much fun. London in the Victorian era also has potential, it seems like a time of great scientific advancement. I also wouldn’t mind seeing what the future holds, or is that cheating?

Makakilo: Send me back to Athens Greece in 400 BC. It’s about more than the fun of wearing robes. My four reasons follow:

  1. Healthy eating - with fresh or dried fish, 70 kinds of bread, many vegetables, and cooking with olive oil.
  2. A warm Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters.
  3. I would be welcome to participate in a city-state democracy with 20% participation of citizens.
  4. I could be filled with awe and wonder at the advances in art, literature, science, and philosophy.

James: Like Jim, it depends on the situation for me. I suppose I wouldn’t mind going back to the late 1800s though. I appreciate many modern advances, but I truly do feel I would be better-suited to a life that was simply not quite so “immediate”.

Player of the Week

Last time out, Patrick Corbin took a clear majority of the votes, with 55% and that allowed him to surge virtually to the top of the leader board, tied with Archie Bradley who has accumulated the same figure over the first four weeks. But Bradley did win the April Player of the Month poll, at 43%, ahead of Corbin’s 22%.

  1. Patrick Corbin: 55%
  2. Archie Bradley: 55%
  3. David Peralta: 44%
  4. Paul Goldschmidt: 43%
  5. Jake Lamb: 41%
  6. A.J. Pollock: 30%
  7. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  8. Taijuan Walker: 24%
  9. Zack Greinke: 23%
  10. Brandon Drury: 22%
  11. Chris Owings, 9%
  12. Nick Ahmed: 7%
  13. J.J. Hoover: 7%
  14. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  15. Randall Delgado: 4%
  16. Robbie Ray: 3%

Neither Corbin nor Bradley make it into this week’s poll though, so the standings at the top could change. Here are the five nominees - place your votes there! All stats are for games May 1-7.


Who was the Player of the Week, May 1-7?

This poll is closed

  • 60%
    Paul Goldschmidt: 1.127 OPS, 3 HR, 7 RBI
    (42 votes)
  • 27%
    Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 2.57 ERA, 7:0 K:BB
    (19 votes)
  • 1%
    Jake Lamb: ,834 OPS, 2 HR, 6 BB
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Robbie Ray: 6 IP, 3.00 ERA, 10:1 K:BB
    (1 vote)
  • 10%
    Fernando Rodney: 2-for-2 saves, 0.00 ERA, 0 H, 0 BB
    (7 votes)
70 votes total Vote Now