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SnakePit Round Table, Week 10: Monks and Beer dispatched

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5-1 for the D-backs against the Padres and Brewers, in another successful homestand. What did our panel think?

Milwaukee Brewers v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

Was demolishing the Padres anything more than a light thrill?

James: While I would like to hope so, the performances against the Brewers in the first two games of the series have me concerned that the San Diego series was more tease than preview of things to come. This team cannot get healthy again fast enough. It is becoming clear (despite the number of wins) that this team misses Pollock at the top of the lineup and in the outfield. The starting pitching depth is also stretched as thin as it can get. It’s time for Walker to get back into the rotation.

Makakilo: 32 runs in a 3-game series against any MLB team is a big accomplishment! Making a habit out of winning is always worthwhile!

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Although the Padres are absolutely atrocious this year, a three game sweep is nothing to take lightly. The Dbacks are a good team right now, and they won three games against a bad team. That is worth being proud of, but not something that makes me deem them champions.

Keegan: It would be ideal to get to the meaningful part of the schedule in August and September instead of stuffing our faces against the lowly Padres. It's shaping up to be quite the dramatic finish. It was great for the offense to right the ship against a lesser team, yet I can't really gauge the team's chances until they face adequate competition.

Jim. The wins were expected, but the sheer savagery of the beat-downs - a combined 32-9 margin - was still impressive. The good things is, wins count exactly the same, regardless of who they come against. If we can pad our record against bad teams, that will give the D-backs a better margin for error in the tougher series. I’ll miss not seeing them over the next three months or so. They play Los Angeles ten times before we see them again. It’d be nice if San Diego woke up and took some of those.

The Brewers proved a tougher proposition. Discuss.

James: The Brewers, like the Diamondbacks are finding some surprising success with their starting pitching. Given that the Diamondbacks are far from the only team this season to learn how difficult the Milwaukee rotation can be when it is performing, it does concern me some when the discussion of October baseball comes up for Arizona. Of the other NL teams that are sporting pretty decent chances of postseason play, Milwaukee is by far the easiest of them. If Arizona cannot comfortably handle Milwaukee, I’m not bullish about their chances against the other likely postseason teams.

Makakilo: The Brewers played better than I expected. They have a good core of players to build around: power hitter Eric Thames at 1B, 22 year old Orlando Arcia at SS, former D-back Chase Anderson at SP, and Ryan Braun at LF. During this series, they called up their #1 and #2 prospects (Lewis Brinson and Josh Hader). Josh Hader had an unusual pitching motion that can unnerve hitters. The Brewers will likely be better next season. That does not mean they are a pushover this season.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): The Brewers have been a surprise this year so far, and are leading the NL Central over the Cubs and Cardinals. So I would have expected a tougher challenge that what the Padres delivered. Now that the game today is over and we have taken two of three from the Brewers, I feel really good about this home stand. The Brewers are a tough team, and we won a series against them, and we shouldn’t take that for granted.

Keegan: Did they though? Friday's game could have just as easily been won had wiser decisions been made. The NL Central is a division in turmoil after the Cubs’ World Series hangover. Chase Anderson has been a gem as of late, and it's a fantasy to imagine what his arm would be in the Arizona rotation right now. It's a poor division that I fully expect the Cubs to run away with after the All Star Break.

Jim: Chase freaking Anderson. Really? I know we spun Jean Segura into Taijuan Walker, but I’m not certain I’d trade Anderson for Walker straight up, based on what we’ve seen of him against us. He certainly wasn’t throwing 97 mph in an Arizona jersey, that’s for sure. Even after today, they still have the best run differential in the Central, so their position on top of the division is legit enough. It’s always good to win a series against a division leader, though the league seems to have figured out Eric Thames. While the Cubs continue to stumble, the Brewers will certainly be in it. Not sure whether I’d want to face them or not in the NLDS: redemption would be sweet, but a defeat would be a bitter pill.

Is Zack Godley’s success sustainable? To what do you attribute it?

James: Yes and no? Is that an allowable answer here? He clearly has brought a new approach to his game this season. He’s inducing more grounders and has cut back the use of his cutter by at least half. If this new and improved curveball of Godley’s is for real, and he continues to attack down in the zone, he might just be able to develop into a solid starter after all. My concern with Godley in the past was that he was a fastball/slider guy with a sloppy curve and a cutter that just didn’t get in on hitters enough to be effective. Having cleaned up the curve, he has managed to turn it into a great weapon, giving him a solid three-pitch mix.

Makakilo: Yes.

  • Zack Godley is known. He pitched 155 Innings over three seasons in the Majors. He continues with even greater success after he became a known pitcher in the Majors. This is strong evidence that his success is sustainable.
  • Zack Godley can pitch enough innings to complete the season. Counting innings in the minors and innings in the Majors, Zack Godley pitched 135.4 innings in 2015, and 156.2 innings in 2016. Conservatively assuming a 10% increase in 2017, he will be good to go for about 172 innings. So far in 2017, he pitched 72.1 innings. I estimate he has a little more than 100 effective innings left. At about 6 innings per start, Zack Godley can start 17 more games this season without overworking his arm. This is good evidence that his success is sustainable
  • Zack Godley’s FIP shows he can sustain a place in the D-backs rotation. A baseball statistician wrote that FIP is the best predictor of future pitching. First I compared Zack Godley’s FIP and ERA. This season his FIP is 3.29 and his ERA is 2.44. This could indicate his ERA will eventually drop to 3.29. Of the D-backs starters, only Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke have an ERA better than 3.29. Second, I compared Zack Godley’s FIP to the D-backs starting rotation. Again, only Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke have a FIP better than 3.29.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I think that his success is sustainable. He has some pretty good peripherals with a FIP just over three, a decent K/9, and he certainly passes the eye test. I definitely don’t think that he will finish the year with an ERA around 2.50, but I think that an ERA somewhere between 3.25 and 3.50 is feasible.

Keegan: As goes the pleasant surprise of this season, so does Zack Godley. Probably doesn't finish quite the season quite as well as he has performed so far. I figure 2-3 hiccups and an ERA somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.50. How many other teams can say that about a spot starter? I expect his performance going forward to largely be acceptable based on what he has accomplished so far. His stats in the hitter friendly PCL support that assertion.

Jim: Success, yes - though not quite at the 2.44 ERA level he has posted this season. That’s driven by having only allowed three home-runs in 44.1 innings, though he is helped there by having a good ground-ball/fly-ball ratio (1.79) and low line-drive rate (19%). The .246 BABIP is likely to regress a chunk, but he has done absolutely nothing to deserve being bumped from the rotation, and it will be interesting to see what the D-backs do when Taijuan Walker returns. Does Delgado - almost as good - move back to the bullpen, or do they bite the bullet with Corbin? I think the latter will get another start, to see if his outing against the Padres was… well, because Padres. But he’s on thin ice.

After his 7 RBI night, should Chris Iannetta be getting more playing time?

James: The current catching rotation seems to be working just fine. I would like to see Herrmann in fewer games, but I fear that if Iannetta is given more of Herrmann’s starts behind the plate that Herrmann will just get more outfield innings, which I like even less.

Makakilo: No.

  • The platoon of catchers have one top priority – game calling and pitch framing. The second priority is split the workload so the catchers make it through the season. Hitting is the third priority, maybe because the D-back position players are in general great hitters.
  • The mix of playing time is good. My count of who started each game at Catcher is: Mathis started 29 time, Iannetta started 23 times, and Herrmann started 13 times. Herrmann started Left Field 7 times and first base once.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): Yes, the catching situation right now is fairly odd. Jeff Mathis has been worth -1.2 bWAR but he certainly seems to be doing a great job with the pitching staff. So if our pitchers continue to dominate the way they have, I think that we can be OK with a negative WAR from him. However, Chris Iannetta has already been worth 0.7 bWAR and his defense appears to be pretty good too. I would like to see Iannetta get a little more playing time based on the offensive holes that we have at the moment, but I also wouldn’t be too upset if things stayed exactly as they are.

Keegan: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Mathis is ranks eighth in pitch framing while Iannetta is ranked ninth. We already know that Lovullo likes to give his guys plenty of rest during the season. Look at how difficult it was for him to change the bullpen dynamic. I doubt that he strays from the path he has already taken with the catching staff.

Jim: I’m disinclined to mess too much with what appears to be a very good thing, in terms of the Arizona pitching staff. But it’s nice to have options in games where the team might need to score a few more runs e.g. Corbin starts or against offensively-powerful teams like the Dodgers or Nats. But it’s very impressive to note that Iannetta’s OPS trails only those of Goldschmidt and Lamb. He already has more home-runs than for all of 2016, in less than one-third the trips to the plate.

Revisiting a previous question: now, do you think the Rockies are for real?

James: I’m still not convinced that the Rockies are entirely for real. What I am convinced of though, is that they are doing enough now that they can afford to fall off later in the season without losing out on postseason play. Like the Diamondbacks though, the Rockies really need to win the division. Neither Arizona or Colorado looks very good doing relying on a one-game play-in just to head off to Washington, D.C.

Makakilo: It’s way too soon to tell whether the Rockies are for real. On the other hand, I am convinced the D-backs are for real!

  • The Rockies have 41 wins. The D-backs have 39 wins. That is a very small difference! The difference could be gone in less than a week.
  • Several prediction models have overreacted. They say the Rockies will likely make the playoffs: Fangraphs:83.9% chance, Baseball Prospectus 91.1% chance, and Five-Thirty-Eight.com 88% chance. Has the winning streak distorted the predictions?
  • The season is a marathon and not a sprint. Eventually something will not go well for the Rockies. How they respond will determine whether they are for real.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I don’t know if they are for real or not, but they have been playing lights out and their offense and pitching have been doing very well. I don’t think that they have had to deal with injuries the way that the Dbacks have thus far (with Walker, Pollock, Miller, Peralta, Iannetta, Tomas, etc…). But if they continue to stay healthy, then that doesn’t really matter too much anyways. Yet, I would like to reassess judgement if or when that happens because if they can deal with injuries as well as the Dbacks have, then yes they are for really realz.

Keegan: Just waiting on those late calendar months. I do not feel that they are for real. They have performed better than Arizona in one run games while playing in less of them. Arizona should have played better against them in our early season series against them both at home and on the road. Take me back to 2007 and rewrite history.

Jim: They’re sticking around much better than I expected. They haven’t been playing patsies either, with the best record in the majors against other teams at or above .500 (22-13, compared to Arizona’s 14-12). Their pitching has been surprisingly good: when was the last time a Colorado team had an ERA below four? How about never? I still am not entirely convinced: let’s see what happens when we play them on this road-trip.

Two off days this week, and series in Detroit and Philadelphia. Should we expect to sweep?

James: The Diamondbacks do need to get a few more sweeps under their belt, especially while they are still chasing the division leader. With the off days, it would be nice to be able to simply skip on the fourth and fifth starters for a bit. Adding Walker back into the rotation and taking advantage of the off days should help the team control how many times the weaker links of the rotation take the mound.

Makakilo: A two game series away against the Tigers is unpredictable. Even in an away series, I like the chances that the D-backs sweep of the Phillies!

  • The D-back pitching is amazingly better: ERA+ of 129 compared to ERA+ of 86.
  • The D-back hitting is amazingly better: 324 runs compared to 237 runs.
  • The D-back record is better: 39-26 compared to 21-40.
  • The D-backs have far better WAA at first base and third base.

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I have a hard time ever predicting a sweep under any circumstances. If the Dbacks go 3-2 in these two series, I would be extremely happy. Anything better would just be icing on the cake.

Keegan: Lacking in depth knowledge of Lovullo’s clubhouse, this team will expect nothing taking each game day by day. A 4-1 road trip would be acceptable and put the team within striking distance of .500 on the road heading into Colorado. Interleague games are largely unpredictable.

Jim: Yeah, I think winning the week overall will be fine, but would ideally like us to go 4-1. The Phillies are REALLY bad this year though - on pace to go 56-106. Any games lost to them at all would certainly feel like an opportunity missed. We should be looking to go full San Diego on their ass.

If you could enroll in a PhD program, with your tuition paid in full by a mysterious benefactor, what would you study — and why?

James: English, specifically literature related to fairy tales and fantasy, a much maligned subset of literature studies. I would also layer on the Anglo-Saxon studies. In other words, I would do exactly what I am doing right now, but I would not be burdening my yet unborn grandchildren with my student debt.

Makakilo: My PhD study would be the mental habits of MLB Players. This season I am writing about mental habits in my series previews. My study would indulge my passion for baseball – I’d continue to do what I love, only more. When I reach a mountain-top threshold, my study would give me a chance to contribute and make a difference to the D-backs team. Because I am realistic I would feel great about helping one or two players improve each year. Helping more players would be awesome!

Steven (thunderpumpkin87): I would study Physics/Astronomy. That is what I studied as an undergrad and thoroughly enjoyed it. I really enjoy learning about the universe and all that it holds, because it is one of the few things in life that can stoke the fire of my imagination to its fullest. There are things out there that are too amazing to believe, yet they exist.

And as a follow up to that… why? Is there some sort of SnakePit Mansion scholarship that I should be applying for?

Keegan: I was a psychology and political science undergrad and was quite fascinated with international policy, national security, and terrorism. I feel that focus is evident in my thought process regarding the team as I write on more of the intangibles. Should I choose to continue my education I would more than likely focus on an analytical field because it would allow me to keep up with Sean’s stats, and put me in a better position to acquire this team in the future.

Jim: No, Steven: for this section, I just Google “interesting questions” and see what turns up. :) I almost did study astronomy at university, but ended up doing computer science instead. I would like to do research into the possibility of extraterrestrial biology. Maybe that’s because we just watched Life earlier this evening, and learned one valuable lesson: do not taze the alien you are studying. It never ends well...

Player of the Week

Ray’s solid showing gave him an easy victory in Week 9, with 69% of the vote. That allows him to leap to the top of the overall leader-board, but less than 10% covers the top three. However, the leading quartet are now beginning to pull away from the rest of the pack. Here are the full standings after Week 9’s results are all included.

  1. Robbie Ray: 130%
  2. Zack Greinke: 121%
  3. Jake Lamb: 121%
  4. Paul Goldschmidt: 111%
  5. Patrick Corbin: 55%
  6. Archie Bradley: 55%
  7. David Peralta: 44%
  8. Brandon Drury: 32%
  9. Nick Ahmed: 30%
  10. A.J. Pollock: 30%
  11. Taijuan Walker, 26%
  12. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  13. Chris Iannetta, 23%
  14. Randall Delgado: 17%
  15. Chris Herrmann, 16%
  16. T.J. McFarland: 10%
  17. Fernando Rodney: 10%
  18. Zack Godley, 9%
  19. T.J. McFarland, 9%
  20. Chris Owings, 9%
  21. J.J. Hoover: 7%
  22. Yasmany Tomas: 7%

A solid week for the team on both sides of the ball, the Diamondbacks only losing the one game which we went to... :( Their 52 runs and .940 OPS led the league, with Chris Iannetta 7-RBI night the best single-game performance at the plate. Meanwhile, the 3.17 ERA was good enough for fourth, anchored by Robbie Ray who extended his streak of highly impressive starts. Here are this week’s nominees.

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week, June 5-11?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Archie Bradley: 3 IP, 0 H, 3:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
    (0 votes)
  • 5%
    Brandon Drury: 5-for-18, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1.242 OPS
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    Paul Goldschmidt: 8-for-18, HR, 6 RBI, 1.378 OPS
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Chris Iannetta: 4-for-9, HR, 7 RBI, 1.500 OPS
    (6 votes)
  • 75%
    Robbie Ray: 13.1 IP, 6 H, 23:6 K:BB, 0.68 ERA
    (43 votes)
57 votes total Vote Now