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SnakePit Round Table, Week 21: Wins, wins, wins!

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The best week’s results since mid-June, make for a happy SnakePit.

San Francisco Giants v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Consecutive series wins! Are we feeling better?

ISH95: I like the fact we don’t see to be limping anymore. I don’t have any history to back me up right off the top of my head, but it seems the teams that go into the playoffs on a bit of a roll seem to last longer than the ones that limp in and make it more on their early season records. See the Giants last year.

Makakilo: Yahoo! August is nearly over. D-backs emerged as leading in the NL wild card race! The D-backs are favorites to make it to the postseason, and are in control of their destiny! Ah-ha! Sunday’s back-to-back-to-back homers were pure joy! I feel ecstatic and extremely optimistic.

Keegan: Ask me again when the series against Los Angeles is over. The offensive explosion in yesterday’s game was much welcomed even against Matt Cain. The Mets aren’t exactly playing for this year anymore, but the Twins are the caliber of team Arizona will likely face in the playoffs. However, a win is a win is a win, and I am extremely satisfied with the rebound. It would be nice for the team to play as well on the road as they do at home.

Turambar: Winning does indeed tend to make one feel better. Still plenty of opportunities to slip up with how tough our schedule is going forward, but for now the worst of the bleeding appears to have been stemmed.

Jim: Much better, thanks. I could see a scenario where the sweep against Minnesota turned into a death-spiral [see the 2014 Brewers, who shared our 73-58 record before losing nine in a row]. But the team bounced back, admittedly against weak opposition, and have some comfortable breathing room again. The schedule gets tougher again, but I think going 4-5 or even 3-6 over the next three series should be fine in terms of overall playoff hopes [more would, of course, be preferred]. Just avoid the sweeps.

What impact will the loss of Jeff Mathis have on the team?

ISH95: I honestly don’t know. The biggest impact would be on Greinke, since he tends to have Mathis as his personal catcher. It didn’t really seem to impact him too much on Friday, when he was one Marte error away from 7 IP and only 2 runs. He’s thrown to Iannetta before, so hopefully that will limit any impact it would have otherwise.

Makakilo: The injury to Mathis was a serious loss. Pitch framing is one of the pillars that have let the D-backs’ pitching shine.

First, let’s focus on catcher. Pitch framing will slightly suffer.

  • From the StatCorner’s catcher report, one measure of pitch framing is plus-calls per-game. This season, Mathis ranked 13th (+.77), while his replacement Iannetta ranked 22nd (+.25). Of the 101 catchers listed, Chris Herrmann and Wellington Castillo held spots 57 and 58. The third catcher, Herrmann, would degrade the D-backs’ pitch framing. Sunday, I was cheered up by Herrmann’s hit for 2RBIs!
  • Catching takes a toll. I saw the advantage of using two catchers so neither catcher was overworked. My new concern is that Iannetta will be overworked, and that could lead to injury.

Second, let’s focus on Greinke. I saw the advantage of always using the same catcher for Greinke. It worked extremely well this season. Thankfully, it appears that Greinke will not be devastated by the injury to Mathis. My opinion is based on two reasons.

  • In early 2015, Greinke said, “I believe that some catchers are better at framing pitches. But I’m not a believer that it’s as valuable as it’s being made out to be. It’s part of a catcher’s skill set. It’s not the most important part.”
  • On 25 August without Mathis catching, against the Giants, Greinke pitched 6.2 innings with 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, and zero walks. This compared well to his April start against the Giants of 5 innings, 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts, and 2 walks. Both games were home games.

Keegan: I don’t really understand why the baseball gods hate us as much as they do this season. It’s time for Chris Herrmann to step up because Chris Iannetta has been holding his end of the bargain. It’s the intangibles that Jeff Mathis provides that will be missed. I’m not overly concerned with the potential impact to Greinke because of the caliber of pitcher he is. I feel that Chris Iannetta will handle him just fine.

Turambar: No clue how this affects the team going forward, but with another seasoned veteran still with us in Iannetta I’m confident it won't be too bad. Were we in a situation where we go from a veteran to a career backup then I might be pretty nervous, luckily that’s not the case.

Jim: I was pleased to see that Mathis is still working with the team, helping Chris Iannetta handle the pitchers. The knowledge he has built up, working with Zack Grenike, etc. is invaluable, and I wouldn’t mind if he was even calling the pitches from the dugout and having them relayed to Iannetta. In terms of offense, I don’t think it’ll make too much difference. Iannetta is the better hitter, so more of him is not a bad thing, though it will likely also mean more Chris Herrmann. At least Herrmann will presumably no longer be playing the outfield.

Is Paul Goldschmidt clutch?

ISH95: Paul Goldschmidt is the best, most consistent hitter the Diamondbacks have, and possibly ever have had in our history. That’s enough for me, and if it isn’t enough, ya’ll are greedy lol

Makakilo: My common sense tells me Goldy is clutch! He is a leading candidate for NL Most Valuable Player. In the Majors, he ranks #6 in Situational Win Probability Added (WPA/LI). Confirming that Goldy is clutch is his high walks. Goldy’s walks (82) rank #5 in the Majors. [I noted that Lamb’s walks (71) ranks #10.]

Although Goldy is clutch, the next question is whether Goldy is as clutch as he was in previous seasons. For 4 measures, I compared Goldy this season to previous seasons. My conclusion was he is at worst, slightly lower than his career average, and at best just as good as his career average.

  • Situational Win Probability Added (WPA/LI). This season, Goldy’ WPA/LI is 4.2. This is slightly lower than normal for Goldy. WPA/LI was 4.6 in 2016, 6.0 in 2015, 3.5 in 2014, 5.3 in 2013, and 3.8 in 2012.
  • Win Probability Added (WPA). This is a broader measure of clutch because when the D-backs will almost certainly win, there is very little win probability to add. This season, Goldy’s WPA is 2.7, although the season is not over. This is slightly lower than normal for Goldy. WPA was 4.3 in 2016 and 6.2 in 2015.
  • Percentage of baserunners who score when he bats. This measure of clutch focuses on clutch situations that may or may not impact the game. This season, it is 19%, which is exactly the same as his career average.
  • Hitting into double plays. Double plays kill scoring possibilities, so are relevant to clutch. A few weeks ago, Goldy was at a career best percentage. Currently, it is 11% of opportunities, the same as 2016.

Keegan: No, I do not think Lovullo should move Goldy back to 3rd in the order. Oh… That wasn’t what you asked? I’m gonna have to echo ISH95 here. The dude is the best position player to ever put on a Diamondbacks uniform. Period. Of course, he is no David Ortiz in “clutch” situations, but that’s not enough to make me complain about him. Expecting him to blast a home run each time in the “clutch” is unrealistic. Is it not enough that he could potentially draw a walk and set the table for Jacking Dingers Martinez? Could he be better in high leverage situations? A 58 wRC+ and .272 wOBA argues that he can be.

Turambar: Goldy is the best of us all. Where there is darkness, he is light. Where there is fear, he is hope. Where there is sorrow, he is glad. Where there are baserunners, he is there to bring them home.

In all seriousness (though I’m deadly serious on what I wrote above) Goldy is the best hitter we’ll likely ever see in a Dbacks uni, but I do wonder how clutch he truly is. Overall he’s obviously excellent with RiSP, but I wonder and it’s certainly (as Keegan said) not as obvious as was seen with Mr. Ortiz.

Jim. This was triggered by Friday night’s game. Goldschmidt’s three-run homer wasn’t “late and close”, and didn’t move the Win Probability meter that much (+19.3%). But it ended up being, unarguably, the difference-maker in the game. Clutch comes in a variety of forms. It’s a pretty nebulous concept, and especially when you are talking about a sample size of “late and close” PAs that’s only double digits, fluctuations will happen. Keep having quality at-bats and good things will happen. No-one on the team is better at the former.

What will happen when Nick Ahmed returns?

ISH95: Hopefully, it will let us have our bench players return to more of a bench role instead of being forced into starting so regularly. Descalso will return to his super-utility backup role, Ahmed will be that defensive force we all expect/hope for, and Marte and Drury will split the time at second. That all depends on how he plays when he returns though, because you just never know.

Makakilo: Ahmed will play shortstop! My one concern is Baseball Reference seemed to show he has not yet gotten a hit during rehab. If that is correct, he needs to bring his hitting back up to what it was before the injury. In any case, his defensive excellence will be valuable.

Keegan: Again, why do the baseball gods hate us?

Turambar: We’ll finally get back to having some depth in the infield, and he’ll likely get the starting job back. I’d be intrigued to see how Marte and Ahmed compare to each other in their starts this year. Would one of you stat fiends please pull that up for me?

Jim: I would not have been surprised to see Ahmed play short, and Marte move over to second. But Lovullo says (somewhat inexplicably, because I hadn’t noticed) that Brandon Drury has played himself back into an everyday role. It will be hard to keep Marte off the field, I think: maybe spot-start him at third against lefties when you want to bench Lamb [cue mob with torches!]. At least it doesn’t sound like Marte’s hamstring issue is a major concern, which is a relief.

Has Patrick Corbin pitched himself back into a post-season rotation spot?

ISH95: You at least have to have that conversation, but I’m not sure he has pitched himself into the spot yet. Unless Godly continues his recent stretch of not quite as good, I think you’ll see Grienke, Ray, and Godly, with Corbin the fourth starter if we need one.

Makakilo: Wow! His last four starts are ‘ace’ quality – 30.1 innings, 1 earned run, 29 strikeouts. How can he be excluded from a postseason rotation spot? On the other hand, Greinke and Godley are the two aces of the staff. And Ray has pitched so well I am considering calling him the third ace of the staff. What a difficult decision Torey Lovullo has to make!

Keegan: Don’t whisper that evil. Just leave him be. He makes me pull my hair out because he has the ceiling of a player with this type of talent he is showing. If he continues this hot stretch into September, dare I say start him over Godley?

Turambar: Sure is refreshing to see Corbin pitch late in to games. Just couple months ago I could easily pencil in almost any Corbin start as a L. Still though, he’s got a ways to go to prove to me that he’s truly moved past the bad Corbin days before I’ll even think of having him start in the postseason. With that being said if he keeps up his excellent starts through Sept then why the heck not?

Jim: If the playoffs were starting this week, I’d have to say Yes. Godley and Corbin appear to have switched bodies for the past four starts. Godley has an ERA of 4.37: though the K’s are still there, so are the walks, with a 28:11 K:BB over those 22.2 innings. Corbin has a 0.30 ERA and a 29:5 K:BB in 30.1 innings. He has been helped by a low BABIP - we shouldn’t expect a sub-one ERA to last forever! - but right now, I have more confidence in Corbin than almost any other pitcher on the roster.

What would your jersey nickname be?

ISH95: Probably ISH95, honestly. I have a family nickname that I despise, so I would use that. The only other choice I might go with is Blockay from the Key and Peele skit. I’ve been called that by my coworkers since I got my first job, but more people know me by ISH95 than my real name at this point I think

Makakilo: Makakilo would be my nickname. If that is too long for my jersey, then I would be happy with Brah – Hawaiian slang for bro.

Keegan: Keegs.

Turambar: Bob Dole

Jim: I’ve never really had a nickname. I’m sure I’d probably end up with “Scottie” or something similar, based on my heritage. Braveheart, maybe!

Did you watch or care about Mayweather/McGregor?

ISH95: I didn’t watch it, because $100 for pay per view can go jump in a lake, but I was interested. It finished pretty much the way I was expecting, but it was nice to see McGregor hold his own and put up a good fight against the woman beater Mayweather. If there is a rematch, I’d give McGregor a much better chance.

Makakilo: A game-day-thread (GDT) said they would fight for a pot of money, which the loser shares. If it is like golf, endorsements are worth more than the ‘prize’ money. Except for the GDT, I would have replied, “Who? What?”

Keegan: Someone may or may not have live streamed the fight on Twitter. It was a better fight than I anticipated. I had no interest in paying a dime for that fight after Mayweather v. Pacquiao, but they brought it this time around. I thought it was a shame that the referee stopped the fight. McGregor is a fighter and deserved the opportunity to be knocked on his rear-end. I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing crossover fights like that in the future.

Turambar: Did not watch, and only had a passing interest in it. Won a side bet on it with some friends though :)

Jim: I’m hard pushed to think of ANYTHING I’d pay $100 to watch on pay-per-view. World Series Game 7 involving the D-backs? Maybe. This seemed like way too much a gimmick fight, like the one where Muhammad Ali fought a Japanese pro wrestler. The result was entirely unsurprising. I guess I’m impressed McGregor lasted as long as he did. I’d have taken my tens of millions and bailed after the first round.

Player of the week

An unsurprising victory for Patrick Corbin, whose pitching performance easily stood out in a tough week for the Diamondbacks. His 84% share vaulted him all the way up to fourth spot. Here are the full standings including all votes through Week 20.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt: 322%
  2. Zack Greinke: 233%
  3. Robbie Ray: 211%
  4. Patrick Corbin: 180%
  5. Jake Lamb: 141%
  6. David Peralta: 137%
  7. Archie Bradley: 103%
  8. Fernando Rodney: 79%
  9. Chris Owings: 75%
  10. Brandon Drury: 60%
  11. A.J. Pollock: 58%
  12. Randall Delgado: 41%
  13. Taijuan Walker: 37%
  14. Chris Iannetta: 34%
  15. Nick Ahmed: 30%
  16. Zack Godley: 29%
  17. T.J. McFarland: 27%
  18. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  19. Ketel Marte: 24%
  20. Chris Herrmann: 16%
  21. J.J. Hoover: 9%
  22. J.D. Martinez: 8%
  23. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  24. Daniel Descalso: 6%
  25. Jake Barrett: 5%
  26. Andrew Chafin: 2%
  27. Anthony Banda: 1%

With a 6-1 week for the team, there are definitely a better set of performances to work with this time, though I’ve a feeling I can tell who the winner will be. Here are the five nominees for your consideration.

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week, August 21-27

This poll is closed

  • 65%
    Patrick Corbin - 15 IP, 9 H, 14:3 K:BB, 0.60 ERA
    (41 votes)
  • 4%
    Paul Goldschmidt - 8-for-21, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 1.242 OPS
    (3 votes)
  • 0%
    Chris Iannetta - 6-for-15, HR, RBI, 1.137 OPS
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    J.D. Martinez - 5-f0r-22, 4 HR, 7 RBI, 1.064 OPS
    (2 votes)
  • 26%
    Fernando Rodney - 3.1 IP, 0 H, 3:2 K:BB, 5 saves
    (17 votes)
63 votes total Vote Now