A winning week, taking the series against the Braves and splitting four with the Cardinals. How are you feeling?
Jay: Better. July was a tough month and August is coming with its tough schedule. But the team seems to have stabilized. Zack Greinke has prevented the ship sinking into the abyss of teams with barely .500 records. J.D. (Just Dongs) has made the lineup fun again to see.
Keegan: Happy for the team’s success, but fairly distraught after what happened to Robbie Ray. He was in the midst of a career year, so hopefully he has an effective recovery. A little offense in the game Ray went down would have set the Diamondbacks up for a sweep today which is quite an accomplishment against a tough Cardinals team. They still need to improve on defense and with runners in scoring position.
Makakilo: Happy and optimistic! Although I’m a little frustrated with additional injuries, the D-backs have bounced back from a slump. I am confident they will play in the postseason.
Tanner: Not too bad. Still worried about the feast or famine offense, pitching has been great though.
Jim: Fine. We outscored the opposition in three of the last four series, so could easily have gone better than 7-6 in that time. A lot of one-run losses this month - we’re 2-9 in those games, which is annoying… But those are basically coin flips, decided as much by luck (or crappy umpiring…). I’d rather lose them now than in the postseason! The starting pitching has been AWESOME of late. Top to bottom, this rotation may be the best in D-backs history.
What order would you rank our five starting pitchers?
Jay: This is the strength of the team right now and the reason I think an epic collapse will not occur.
- Greinke - Clearly the ace. Pitches great at home, which is reason enough to want top wild card seed.
- Ray - A very good lefty number 2.
- Godley and Walker - They are both solid number 3 pitchers. They have very different demeanors, but they both keep the D-backs in the game.
- Corbin - He is actually a quality pitcher, I call him a 4 even though he is 5th best on the team. In years past when Mount .500 was a mirage, numbers like his this year would put him at or near the top of the rotation. He has gotten past his bad month of May.
Keegan: We have a 1A & 1B and three #2 - #3 type starting pitchers at this point in the season which the team should be able to ride to continued success. Patrick Corbin has found his stride again as of late, a welcomed surprise during one of the toughest months this season. I would put Ray and Greinke up against any 1 & 2 in the league right now and feel confident that they could keep the game competitive. I would like for the team to find ways to win Taijuan Walker’s starts instead of trying to catch a fly ball in the sun without sunglasses, allowing Walker to score the only runs in a game followed by a bullpen meltdown. He’s been everything I hoped for since we acquired him from Seattle.
- Greinke (ERA+ 165, Game score average 61) He is the Ace!
- Godley (ERA+ 154, Game score average 60) He is amazing!
- Ray (ERA+ 151, Game score average 59) He is amazing and will bounce back!
- Walker (ERA+ 135, Game score average 53) He is great! D-backs won that trade!
- Corbin (ERA+ 108, Game score average 48) His numbers are improving!
Tanner: Greinke, Ray, Godley, Walker, Corbin.
Jim: It’s a very interesting question. Greinke at the top; he’s showing exactly why we gave him that contract. But beyond that, it’s hard to say. This time last month, Ray would be the obvious #2, but his K:BB ratio of late has been problematic. Meanwhile, Corbin has really come back, Walker has been fanning people… But Godley would likely be my #2, simply due to his consistency: he has had one bad outing since joining the rotation. After that, probably Ray, Walker and Corbin - but next week, it could be the complete other way round, it’s that close.
Does Ketel Marte deserve more playing time?
Jay: Yes, but deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it. He will part of Lovullo’s rotation and should get to play most days. His defense is better than Owings. His switch hitting is a strength. Can hit the long ball and plays with youthful passion. He might allow us to trade a middle infielder next year. Right now, we need all the depth we can get.
Keegan: Absolutely. We need to stick that trade to the Mariners. Ketel has been putting tremendous swings on the ball and his Hard % on balls in play is at an astounding 35.6% which is easily his career high. Eye tests show that he has been getting robbed at the plate and a .244 BABIP supports that. I agree with others that the Diamondbacks have substantial depth at middle infield, but that doesn’t mean that it has to be Brandon Drury or Chris Owings that have to be dealt. Nick Ahmed could be flipped in the offseason as Marte’s defense, although not as stellar, could easily make up for the loss of Ahmed.
Makakilo: Yes, for three reasons.
- Ketel Marte has made huge improvements in offense this season. In the past, one ‘hit’ against him was that he has “minimal power.” And yet this season his slugging % of .500 ranks fifth on the D-backs behind JD Martinez at .724, Goldy at .577, Lamb at .533, and Pollock at .504.
- This season his UZR/150 at shortstop has improved from negative 15 to positive 9. That kind of improvement is like night and day! With that kind of improvement, his defense is not that much less than Nick Ahmed, and his defense is much better than Chris Owings. He may be the best option for the D-backs, even when Ahmed and Owings are healthy. Currently, Ahmed and Owings are on the DL.
- He is young at 23. He is under team control via arbitration through 2021. He is starting to look like the shortstop of the future for the D-backs. Regular playing time will improve his skills quicker.
Tanner: Definitely. Especially now that Owings is down. He should be starting SS going forward right now.
Jim: I should mention I posed this question after Saturday’s game, and so before the loss of Chris Owings for an extended period. I think that pretty much means Marte will become the everyday shortstop, but even before that, I’m inclined to go with yes. His average deserves to be a great deal higher, based on his line-drive rate, but he has been unfailingly hitting the ball at fielders. Kinda sucks to say it, if we had to lose an everyday player to injury, Owings might well have been the best one, with Marte playing so well. An impressive arm as well.
We’ve now had a full week of J.D. Martinez. What do you think?
Jay: I assume there is more to his game than strikeouts and crushing home runs, but it sure has been a fun couple of weeks. He has proven that the hand is fine and he will be a huge help these final two months. If we win the World Series, maybe we could at least make him a contract offer. If Yasmany Tomas would stop eating so much American food, he’d have a chance to be this good too. I hope so, J.D. is a rental and we will be back with Yasmany next year.
Keegan: Sooooo does this guy put balls in play or just hit home runs every time? Jay brings up a good point in that Tomas could have provided similar pop if he was at his best. Tomas could have learned a great deal from the new acquisition. Martinez makes the middle of this lineup unbelievably deep. If Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, and Brandon Drury can turn it around, these last two months will provide a lot of fireworks. Great move by the new front office. Highly unlikely that the team extends him at the end of this season.
Makakilo: As a D-back, JD Martinez’s numbers are better than ever!
- Homers per plate appearance(PA). After 2015 & 2016 (.06 and .04), in 2017 he improved to .07 homers per PA before the trade. After the trade his homers per PA are .16, more than double!
- RBIs per PA. After 2015 & 2016 (.16 and .13), in 2017 he improved to .17 RBIs per PA before the trade. After the trade, his RBIs per PA are .39, more than double!
- Is this offensive improvement sustainable? Yes because recently the D-backs have been leaving a lot of men on base. Therefore, JD Martinez has more chances to hit RBIs. Even though he is a rental, I confidently say the D-backs won that trade!
Tanner: We won the trade! But seriously, homers are sexy, let's just hope he can do more than that and can be productive in general
Jim: We may have to repossess the Special K nickname from Mark Reynolds, for it seems the mantle now belongs to Martinez. His at-bats are either special, or their K’s. With the occasional double-play included. I imagine he’ll settle down a bit, with the home-runs converting into less sexy hits, but the defense has been solid enough, and certainly not the Mark Trumbo 2.0 some people were expecting. Definitely fills a need, and already one of the best trade deadline pickups the D-backs have ever had.
Are you concerned about Robbie Ray’s injury?
Jay: He seems fine. Traveling with the team. Very lucky, could have been much worse obviously.
Keegan: Head injuries are bizarre and there is really no one size fits all. He could have a quick recovery similar to when Archie Bradley was hit in the face, or he could have lingering concussion symptoms that make it difficult for him to return. It’s going to take time. Gotta feel for the young man in the midst of a career season.
- The D-backs have had more than their fair share of injuries and injury scares. That concerns me and I am unhappy about that. Their hurts are mentally felt by many fans with compassion and empathy. Frustration will be huge if Robbie Ray is slow to bounce back.
- Even with severe rain falling on his parade, Torey Lovullo thanked someone. “You're not sure what's going on around you at that point,” the manager said. “When I was able to take inventory about what was happening and saw (Voit) there on the mound, I just told him that I thought is was a very classy thing and I thanked him for it.”
Tanner: Just in that sometimes stuff doesn't show up right away after that kind of injury. He needs to be watched closely to make sure nothing manifests later.
Jim: Physically, I think Ray will be fine. The question is more whether there might be any lasting effects on his make-up. Pitching requires commitment, and if this gets into Ray’s head, it could play havoc - we perhaps saw that with Evan Marshall, and maybe even Archie Bradley. It’s hard to know, and we just have to keep our fingers crossed and give Ray the absolute support he deserves.
The trade-deadline is tomorrow. Do you predict any more moves?
Jay: One more reliever. I would have liked Neshek, but Colorado took him. I don’t have a clue about which specific reliever they will want to acquire. Probably not a closer, but that sure would be nice.
Keegan: Even after the non-waiver deadline, the team can still make a waiver wire acquisition so it is not as if Hazen has to trade for a reliever by tomorrow at the latest. Plenty of attractive options on the table as Jeff Wiser pointed out earlier and no need to spend extravagantly.
Makakilo: No because I don’t have unrealistic expectations. The two recent trades for JD Martinez and John Ryan Murphy are remarkable!
Tanner: Not really. Maybe now they swing for a middle infielder with Owings going down, but I don't expect anything.
Jim: I don’t think so, at least not tomorrow. It’s possible we might get someone who can stand in for Owings, but I don’t think the team needs to make any panic moves.
Adrian Beltre is on the edge of 3,000 hits. What other active hitters will get there?Useful link: https://bbref.com/pi/shareit/Vynd9 - active hits leaders
Jay: Pujols and Miggy. Lots of other guys have an outside chance, but they’d have to play a very long time to get there. That kind of longevity is hard to predict. I don’t think anyone currently on the D-backs roster has much of a chance. Goldy kind of started his career late and he walks too much. Believe it or not, he’s still under 1,000 hits right now so he’d have to play until he was around 44. I’m less concerned with him reaching 3,000 than I am with him getting all his career hits in a D-backs uniform.
Keegan: Pujols and Cabrera are near locks. If Cano stays healthy, he will likely make a run at it as well. Outside of that your guess is as good as mine. Bryce Harper and Mike Trout might be able to do it because they came into the league at such a young age given their talent level.
Makakilo: I focused on younger players who have a chance to blast through 3000 hits.
- My first pick is Jose Altuve. He leads the Majors in hits this season. At his current pace of 216 hits per season, he could break through 2000 hits during the 2021 season when he will be 31 years old. He could reach 3000 hits when he is 36 years old, relatively young.
- My next two picks are Eric Hosmer (ranks fourth in hits this season) and Starlin Castro (less flash and more consistency). They are the same age as Altuve, but will probably take a couple seasons longer to break through 3000 hits.
- My next picks are Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, and Mike Trout. They are young super-stars. Nevertheless, their yearly hits are lower and/or inconsistent, lowering their chances of reaching 3000 hits.
- My last pick is a wild card in his second season as a full time starter. He is 24 years old and has 435 hits. He plays third base for the Indians. His name is Jose Ramirez.
Tanner: Pujols and Miggy definitely. Otherwise I can't think of anyone specific, but I'm lazy and don't want to do any research.
Jim: Sorry, I’ve got to go watch Five-Headed Shark Attack...
Player of the week
A very split decision last week, with no player reaching even 40% of the vote. The top player was David Peralta on 38%, but there were strong showings from both A.J. Pollock (28%) and Patrick Corbin (22%). All three move into the top ten overall: here are the full standings through that week 14 poll.
- Robbie Ray: 211%
- Paul Goldschmidt: 208%
- Zack Greinke: 192%
- Jake Lamb: 138%
- David Peralta: 87%
- Archie Bradley: 84%
- Patrick Corbin: 79%
- Chris Owings, 75%
- Fernando Rodney: 75%
- A.J. Pollock: 58%
- Brandon Drury: 52%
- Randall Delgado: 41%
- Taijuan Walker, 37%
- Chris Iannetta, 34%
- Nick Ahmed: 30%
- Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
- T.J. McFarland: 19%
- Chris Herrmann, 16%
- Zack Godley, 11%
- J.J. Hoover: 7%
- Yasmany Tomas: 7%
- Daniel Descalso: 6%
- Jake Barrett, 5%
- Andrew Chafin: 2%
Here are the candidates for this week’s poll, including two hitters, two starters and an emergency bout of long relief. All stats cover the period July 24-30.
Who was the Player of the Week, July 24-30
This poll is closed
Zack Godley: 7 IP, 4 H, 0.00 ERA, 7:2 K:BB
Paul Goldschmidt, 10-for-22, HR, 5 RBI, 1.321 OPS
Zack Greinke: 15 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1.80 ERA, 15:1 K:BB
T.J. McFarland: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 0.00 ERA, 2:0 K:BB
Ketel Marte: 6-for-17, 2 HR, 4 RBI, 1.274 OPS