Have the D-backs figured it out on the road?
Xipooo: I don’t think it’s really a road vs home thing. There can be times where it’s a psychological barrier, but predominantly I think this was just an artifact of the teams they were facing at home vs on the road. The last 4 teams they’ve faced on the road are Padres, Brewers, Tigers, and Phillies. The Brewers are the only ones on that list with a record above .500.
Keegan: Ask me again after the Colorado series. No need to start the parade after beating up on the lowly Tigers and Phillies. In all honesty the team has played admirably on the road considering how often they’ve played away from home over the past month. Heading into the All Star Break with a road record above .500 could set the tone going into the second half of the season.
James: Whether they have figured out the road or not, they have at least figured out beating the teams they are supposed to be beating. THe next series in COlorado is going to be a very big series for this ballclub.
Jim: I think their road performance has finally caught up with the home one, but it has been trending that way for a while now. Since May 7, the D-backs have played six road series, and lost only the one in Miami, going 13-7 overall. Tacos in all but one game on this trip so far, but they are still hitting only .230 away from Chase. Still some work to be done.
Taijuan Walker’s return has moved Randall Delgado back to the bullpen. Discuss.
- Taijuan Walker: When he returned, he pitched very well. Torey Lovullo said, “it was nice to see him execute some pitches in key moments.” Most importantly, his finger “held up nicely.” For the season, his ERA+ is 144, and his SO/9 is 10.8. He is a solid choice for third or fourth in the rotation, although Zack Godley is my personal choice for third.
- Randall Delgado: Although he pitched very well in 3 of his 4 starts and kept the D-backs in the game in the fourth start, his highest value to the team is in the bullpen as a long reliever and emergency starter. In his recent long-relief appearance, he did very well. He pitched 3 innings with zero earned runs, zero walks, and 2 strikeouts.
Keegan: I don’t take issue with this at all. Randall Delgado was not going to be able to start a majority of the season by default. I am relieved to know that he is available in emergency starts which may be necessary considering the less than ideal performance from Patrick Corbin as of late. I’m sticking by the beat of my own drum anticipating the true upside of Taijuan Walker. We’ve been hearing about him since the days of the Justin Upton vetoed trade, and I would love for the Diamondbacks to harness his potential.
James: I’ve been one of Delgado’s biggest supporters for the last three seasons, and even I have no issues with this move. Delgado did exactly what the team asked of him and helped them through a rough patch. Now he can go back to where his weaknesses are harder to exploit. HE’s always had the stuff to start, he’s just never consistently put it all together for extended periods of time. I somewhat doubt Delgado was going to keep up the pace though, and eventually there would be some concern over the innings pitched, even if Delgado never said anything. For now, he’s back in the bullpen, and his rubber arm is available to pile up the appearances as the Diamondbacks start playing meaningful games in August and September.
Jim: I’d rather have seen Corbin moved back there, but I can understand the team looking to build his confidence by rolling him out against weaker teams. I’m guessing they will also push back/skip his start in Coors, so his next outing is also against the Phillies. But there’s only so long that tactic can last. Corbin’s going to have to face good teams eventually, and his ERA is close to two runs worse than anyone else in the rotation.
Is J.J. Hoover now on the bullpen bubble, with an ERA over the past month close to eight?
Makakilo: The positives outweigh the negatives and JJ Hoover is a valuable part of the bullpen. If I am manager, he is not on the bubble. Details follow:
- In April and May, his ratio of allowed-on-base to outs was 0.52, and in June his ratio was much worse: 1.75.
- In April and May, his strikeouts per 9 innings was 14.9 (elite plus), and in June his strikeouts per 9 innings was 10.1 (barely elite).
- In June, JJ Hoover pitched 2.2 innings, which is too small of a sample to make any definite conclusion.
- JJ Hoover pitched very well in April and May. His fastball generated an “extremely high number” of whiffs and “very high amount” of ground balls (Brooks Baseball).
- In June he inherited 4 runners and only allowed 1 to score.
- As a veteran, he knows how to pitch well and provides valuable advice to younger pitchers.
Xipooo: Based on how Torry Lovullo manages, I don’t think so. He’s stuck with Rodney and Corbin despite their disastrous periods. I think the only way they make a move is if someone is either injured or there’s a 100% better option in Reno. I don’t think Silvino Bracho is better than anyone at this point.
Keegan: I’m gonna have to agree with Xip here. Lovullo gives his guys the long leash, and Hoover performed well to begin the season. I do not feel that he will be pushed from the bullpen until Jake Barrett or Rubby De La Rosa are knocking on the door, or if Mike Hazen decides to acquire an arm before the deadline. For now, it might be best to not change the dynamic and allow Hoover the time to right the ship.
James: I’ve felt that Hoover was on the bubble the moment Wilhelmsen was finally bumped from the roster. Hoover was already next in line for me, though JDLR is not far off. Frankly, I figure both of them are starting to toy with borrowed time.
Jim: He is struggling of late. I was really surprised to see him come into today’s game and throw 33 pitches, after throwing 18 yesterday. It almost felt like this was Lovullo squeezing the last juice from him before sending Hoover down for a fresh arm in Coors, where we’ll likely all need the reliable bullpen arms we can muster. Of course, relievers are always going to be volatile. We saw that with Fernando Rodney. But Hoover currently feels like a time-bomb about to go off. Sure, he has only allowed one run over his last six outings. But that’s just three innings, and he has given up seven hits and five walks, with just two strikeouts. That isn’t sustainable. It’d suck if it ended up costing us a game against Colorado.
How do you rate Paul Goldschmidt’s MVP chances?
Makakilo: The race is close for NL MVP between Ryan Zimmerman and Paul Goldschmidt. Currently, Zimmerman is ahead in ‘total bases’ and ‘OBP+Slugging’ while Goldschmidt is ahead in Offensive WAR. I like Goldschmidt’s chances because in past years he has twice been voted into second place while Zimmerman has never been voted above 16th place. However, because Zimmerman’s team, the Nationals, is leading the NL East his votes may be stronger. Nevertheless, when the D-backs win the NL West for the first time since 2011 it will compare favorably to the Nationals who have been first or second in their Division for 6 consecutive years.
Xipooo: Same as every year. Kinda low. The DBacks still lack the shine the National News requires to give them headlines. I think the only way Paul get’s MVP is if they make it to the WS or at the very least 7 games in the NLCS.
Keegan: I find it unlikely that he gets the nod which is a damn shame. The voting members of the media will likely overlook him in favor of a player in a larger market. Paul Goldschmidt is currently leading the Senior Circuit position players in WAR and trails only Aaron Judge for the league lead. There is still plenty of season left to play, and a magical late season run led by Paul Goldschmidt may change that discussion.
James: If Goldschmidt can avoid an August/September swoon, I think his chances are excellent. Even with Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman having big years for the Nationals, Goldschmidt is on a team with a better record and is having a better season. Also, with the Diamondbacks entering the season expected to be sub-.500, the presence of the Diamondbacks near the top of MLB with regard to overall record is going to make Goldschmidt look even better. If Goldschmidt can go 30/30 that’s going to be a big magic number for him too.
Jim: As good as they have ever been. This is easily the best team he has been on - even in his rookie year of 2011, the D-backs were 38-32 to this point, six games back of where they are now, and that makes a very significant difference. MVPs rarely come off non-playoff teams. Since 2008, Bryce Harper’s 2015 campaign is the only such case. Goldschmidt leads the NL in fWAR and is doing well in more traditional stats: keep it up, stay healthy, and if the D-backs make the post-season, he has a very good chance.
Who are the best base-runners on the team?
Makakilo: As measured by Baseball Prospectus’s BaseRunning Runs (BRR), the best are:
- Paul Goldschmidt 3.0 (thirteenth in the Majors)
- Jake Lamb 2.3 (twentyfirst in the Majors)
- David Peralta 1.8
- Gregor Blanco 1.0
- AJ Pollock 0.7 (hope he is back soon)
- Rey Fuentes 0.7 (his speed is amazing!)
Xipooo: From a purely smart base running stance, I’d say it would have to be Paul Goldschmidt. As for pure speed it’s Fuentes. Overall, AJ is the best though both in terms of speed and intelligence.
Keegan: I can tell you that Nick Ahmed is the worst base runner on the team. By BsR standards from Fangraphs, Yasmany Tomas (3.3 BsR) ranks better than Nick Ahmed (0.0 BsR). Without a doubt, advanced metrics demonstrate that Paul Goldschmidt is the best base runner on the team. That alone should put him head and shoulders above the competition in the MLB discussion. With that being said, David Peralta is my absolute favorite player to watch on the base paths. He runs as hard as he can for every ball in play, and it is a thrill to watch.
James: It’s a tough question to answer because A.J. Pollock has missed a month of play now. With the injury involved, I rate the team
Without the injury:
Fuentes has great speed, but he still needs to refine his base-stealing abilities.
Jim: For a guy who isn’t “fast”, Goldschmidt is amazing. But I think Dave McKay has worked wonders with this team, taking them from a terrible baserunning team into the best in the league. Even the likes of Jake Lamb have been looking much better on the bags than you’d expect. I do wonder about Tomas being rated so highly though, as that really does not mesh with the eye test (unlike, say, Goldschmidt). Small sample size? Some kind of gravitational well? I’d like to see a more specific breakdown there.
A crucial series looms at Coors. What are the keys to success?
Makakilo: One of the keys to success is baserunning. In 2017, the Rockies have 7.3 BaseRunning Runs (BRR), the best in the Majors, compared to the D-backs with 1.8 BRR, ranked 11th in the Majors (Source: Baseball Prospectus). Three reasons follow:(Source: Baseball Reference)
- BRS (percentage of runners who score). Rockies rank first in the Majors with 17% and D-backs rank sixth with 16%.
- Productive Outs. Rockies rank sixth in the Majors with 32% and D-backs rank 22nd in Majors with 27%.
- Pinch Hit RBIs. Rockies rank third in Majors with 13, and D-backs rank sixth in Majors with 11.
Xipooo: The Rockies bats are always the cause for concern. I think the bullpen is where the game could be lost or won. Either team could mount a comeback and I have a bit more faith in our starters vs. theirs.
Keegan: This series should feature a battle of the bullpens, but as soon as I say this we will be witness to an offensive slugfest. I’d love to see better focus on defense from Arizona this time around in Colorado. A simple solution to that problem would be to wear sunglasses Thursday’s day game. Zack Greinke was stellar his last time out at Coors Field, and his slider had great movement. It will be interesting to see what adjustments the Rockies make against him in the series opener.
James: For pitchers, the key is going to be to limit the number of free passes. The Rockies can put up a ton of runs in a hurry. Limiting the number of base runners will help to keep the score manageable. For the offense, I think it’s going to be about two things, baserunning and plate discipline. The Diamondbacks need to make this young crop of pitchers work. If they can make the Rockies pitching corps work harder, I think the Diamondbacks have the firepower to eventually break through in typical Coors Field fashion. That breakthrough will be helped by taking extra bases and keeping the pitchers off balance with the overall running game. Creating havoc on the bases could become what turns the tide if Colorado’s pitching holds up.
Jim: If you’d said on Opening Day that this match-up would feature the #2 and #3 pitching staffs in the National League, you’d have got a lot of questioning looks. Yet, here we are. As ever at Coors, keeping the ball in the park will be crucial, and whether you’re ahead or behind, it will be important never to let up. As the Giants learned to their cost today, no lead is ever safe in Colorado.
Father’s Day: got any memories of sports with your Dad?
Xipooo: Unfortunately no. My father left when I was 3 months old. Those of you with fathers, I say be ever thankful you had someone to look up to and be the best example you can for your own children.
Keegan: A vast majority of my memorable sporting moments are shared with my father. He coached my little league team when I was younger, and as I’ve stated before I can thank him for my love of the game. I remember going to the Pre-World Series rally with him in 2001 and Reggie Sanders tossed him an autographed ball. He occasionally tells me about the atmosphere of Downtown Phoenix after the World Series victory which sounds more like a nightclub setting from his version of events. Outside of baseball, my Dad drove me quite a distance to club swim practice nearly every day. He never missed one of my swim meets or any of the races for that matter. Nothing but great memories.
James: My father has taken me to all sorts of sporting events. I’m not sure that any specific event stands out. He did teach me how to play aggressively on the volleyball court and also how to play lawn darts. Unfortunately, my knees will no longer support my doing the former, and well, finding an actual set to play the latter is like searching for a unicorn.
Jim: My Dad used to coach the cub scout football team I was on - though my presence there was more enthusiastic than talented! But the main memory is probably he and I playing together with the local cricket club. I actually joined it first, but he then came along too, and we had 4-5 years on it together before I went off to college.
Player of the week
Robbie Ray dominated last week’s voting, collecting a full 75% of the votes, to put a good chunk of daylight between himself and the rest of the contenders. Here are the full standings after Week 10’s results are included.
- Robbie Ray: 205%
- Zack Greinke: 121%
- Jake Lamb: 121%
- Paul Goldschmidt: 120%
- Patrick Corbin: 55%
- Archie Bradley: 55%
- David Peralta: 44%
- Brandon Drury: 37%
- Chris Iannetta, 34%
- Nick Ahmed: 30%
- A.J. Pollock: 30%
- Taijuan Walker, 26%
- Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
- Randall Delgado: 17%
- Chris Herrmann, 16%
- T.J. McFarland: 10%
- Fernando Rodney: 10%
- Zack Godley, 9%
- T.J. McFarland, 9%
- Chris Owings, 9%
- J.J. Hoover: 7%
- Yasmany Tomas: 7%
The team went undefeated this week, but there was no particularly obvious star. We did get to see every member of the rotation once, and Fernando Rodney had his best week of the year. After some deliberation, here are the five candidates this week: all stats cover the period June 12-18.
Who was the Player of the Week, June 12-18?
This poll is closed
Brandon Drury: 9-for-19, HR, 5 RBI, 1.289 OPS
Zack Godley: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 8:3 K:BB
Paul Goldschmidt: 9-for-23, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 1.112 OPS
David Peralta: 8-for-19, HR, 2 RBI, 1.137 OPS
Fernando Rodney: 4 Sv, 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 8:0 K:BB