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SnakePit Round Table, Week 23: Lucky 13 wins

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Hey, can’t win ‘em all... though the D-backs sure tried!

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

We reached a franchise record 13 consecutive wins. Discuss.

Makakilo: Happy memories of this season will be remembered for a long time. So far I have discovered three Aces – Greinke, then Godley, and then Ray. And yet, Bradley as a reliever shines brighter than any ace. And with hindsight, Rodney was the best closer on the market and the D-backs acquired him at a very reasonable price. Although the offense has been great for years, the team finally has a worthy hitter to pair with Goldy – JD Martinez. Positive surprises have added spice to the season. Sweeping the first place Dodgers, twice, was a peak experience.

This season is without doubt the best season in years. And yet, when this remarkable team plays in the postseason, even if it’s just one game, I will be looking at new vistas. New vistas remind me of a mountain climber who has gone higher than his previous climbs to discover the thrill of going beyond what he had previously assumed were his limits. New vistas forever change lives. Arriving with new vistas are new assumptions that need to be explored. I love adventures.

Jim: I think the most remarkable thing was that it was done through the teeth of the schedule against our closest rivals. We basically broke the Dodgers, sweeping the team who still have the best record in baseball (despite the losing streak), not once but TWICE. That and the Rockies series, I’d have been delighted with any kind of winning record. Going 9-0, with another sweep-plus on top of that? And to not trail at any point for 10 consecutive games? That was pretty special as well.

Keegan: I figured the stretch facing the Dodgers for 2 series and the Rockies for 1 in Colorado was going to be brutal. Never in my wildest imagination did I think that the Padres would prove to be the most challenging test in September this far. When you begin to look back at the results, you can see how difficult it is to win that many games in a row let alone not trail your opponent in nearly 100 innings. 7 of the 13 wins were by 2 runs or less. In fact, the loss to the Mets before the streak started was only by 2 runs. The final week of the streak came without the team’s best player, Paul Goldschmidt. Definitely the type of play you want to see from your team heading into the postseason.

Steven: It was oh so glorious. The fact that it happened against the Dodgers and the Rockies after a rough stretch made it that much sweeter. It also coincided with the Dodger’s losing 15 out of 16, which is making September one to remember. Everything was clicking for the Dbacks during this stretch, the starters were phenomenal, the offense was getting it done, and the bullpen kept leads.

Tanner: It was fantastic. Absolutely fantastic and it felt so good. Sweeping the Dodgers (with no Goldy so none of the “but our best players!” crap applies here) in their own house just adds to it. Now, if only some humiliation of the Yankees could’ve been involved I could die happy.

But it was followed with a series loss at home to San Diego. Are we worried?

Makakilo: I am not worried because common sense told me the streak would end, and whenever it happened I would be surprised. I was! And common sense does not change my disappointment.

In the ninth inning pitching in Saturday’s game, the Padres scored too many runs. A highly probable win turned into a loss. My hope is that this disappointing series can be transformed into strengthened mental habits that build mental strength. Mental strength will serve the team well in the postseason.

It would be a great advantage if the D-backs have the home field advantage in the play-in game. If the season ended today, the D-backs have the NL wild card lead and would have that advantage. If the NL wild card lead shrinks, I would start to worry.

Jim: There were some elements which did concern me. Neither the bullpen on Saturday, nor Patrick Corbin on Friday, were able to stop the “big inning”, each allowing the Padres to put up a six-spot. When it comes to the playoffs - particularly the wild-card game - frames like that can easily be a death sentence. I do think Andrew Chafin is seriously struggling, and if our starter doesn’t give Torey Lovullo those “21 outs” he wants, the bridge to Bradley and Rodney seems potentially shaky. But the team did bounce back today, winning an important game. J.D. Martinez is potentially one of the best trade deadline of all time. It’s very reminiscent of the Dodgers getting Manny Ramirez in 2008, and riding him into the post-season: Ramirez hit 17 homers in 53 games for them; J.D. now has 21 in 45 for us.

Keegan: On a scale of 1-10, my level of concern after the performance against San Diego was a 2. Teams like the Padres live to spoil playoff chances in September. It’s how they build towards the following season. The bullpen was honestly mismanaged in the 2 losses. We were joking during the failed comeback in the opening game of the series which also happened to be Snake Pit Fest. Arizona nearly found a way to claw back into that game after being down by a significant amount of runs early. It’s irrational to be doom and gloom after a late game meltdown such as the contest we saw on Saturday. I hope that it taught the coaching staff a lesson about how they need to manage the bullpen in October. Learn from it and move on.

Steven: No, not worried at all. You can’t win them all, and if it weren’t for an awful collapse by Chafin and Rodney, we would have won that series too.

Tanner: I feel better about it now than I would’ve last year. Knowing the Division is a pipe dream, helps to realize that focusing on keeping the Wild Card is important, and far easier to do. Especially with the lead we have. Let’s put up a fight, but get the post season guys some rest as well. The bullpen will (hopefully) look drastically different in October (plus the roster is changeable between every series so we can maximize matchups).

Were/are you concerned by Paul Goldschmidt’s absence?

Makakilo: I was worried when he was absent because of what I did not know.

Currently, I am not worried for 3 reasons.

  • An MRI found “no structural damage.” My common sense said there was some damage, but it was not a kind of damage that needed surgery. Not needing surgery is a good thing.
  • Goldy sought medical advice after about a week of minor intermittent symptoms (based on an interview with Goldy). Quickly seeking medical advice is a good thing. I know a woman who hurt her thumb. She had physical therapy for more than a month. The muscle did not get better. Then she went to a specialist doctor. She received a cortisone shot. The muscle got better.
  • Goldy returned to the lineup on 9 September. In the fifth inning he hit a single scoring Chris Iannetta. And on 10 September, he hit a homerun!

Jim: Any time your most valuable player is out for health reasons is always going to be concerning. The words “MRI” are never a GOOD thing. It would have been preferable if there had been something less vague, but it appears this was more a case of the team finding a good point to address an ongoing, somewhat discomforting problem. It appears Goldschmidt had been playing with the elbow problem for a while. It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets more rest down the stretch, especially after the series against Colorado - I’d be happy for the D-backs to coast into the wild-card game, and give Paul’s elbow as much time off as possible. We’ll need it to be at its best in the playoffs.

Keegan: I was more concerned with Goldy’s absence than the poor play against San Diego. It brought back bad memories of 2016 when Arizona tried to downplay Pollock’s elbow injury until it shattered in front of our eyes. Goldschmidt almost never misses a game, so when he was out of the lineup for nearly an entire week it can become a bit worrisome. Even seeing him wearing a compression sleeve is concerning. My assumption is that it is not serious enough to prevent him from playing. I hope he continues treatment in the offseason because I would hate to see the condition linger and sap him of his bat speed.

Steven: The only thing that concerns me is that it dug into his chances for the MVP. I think this was a case of the team just being super, super cautious with the face of the franchise.

Tanner: The letters “MRI” scared the crap out of me, no lie. But knowing he got plenty of rest, there was no structural damage, and he just homered in the last game, puts me a bit more at ease. After the season we’ll have to see what is going on there and if there is work to be done.

Who would you rather face in the NLDS: Washington or Los Angeles?

Makakilo: I prefer facing the Dodgers for two reasons.

  • The rivalry that has emerged over the years will broaden the enthusiasm of the D-backs fans!
  • The D-backs swept the Dodgers twice. The Dodgers fear playing the D-backs, and that’s one reason the D-backs will win.

Jim: I’m not too bothered. I think, to reach the World Series, we’ll probably end up having to go through both of them (sorry, Cubs fans: you are clearly the weakest division leader, and are not even assured of getting to the post-season at the time of writing). So the order, NLDS and NLCS doesn’t really matter too much. There’s something to be said for playing the stronger team in the shorter series, and right now, that would have to be the Nationals, even without Bryce Harper for the last four week. It would certainly have less potential for angst than a Dodgers series, and Chase Field for those games would less closely resemble the Coliseum in the days of Caligula [Note to self: fact-check that in Wikipedia…]

Keegan: It has to be Los Angeles without a doubt. The Diamondbacks are due for revenge against the Dodgers for jumping in the pool many moons ago. Being responsible for their demise after a September collapse would make the series that much sweeter. The Diamondbacks have played well against them this year especially in the waning months of the season. I truly feel that the Diamondbacks would be the Dodgers most difficult opponent.

Steven: I would rather face the Dodgers, because of the familiarity factor, and the fact that it looks like the Dodgers are having a mid-life crisis. I also wouldn’t want to face Scherzer twice in a best of five series. That sounds heinous.

Tanner: The Dodgers, because I think we can compete with them more easily than the Nationals.I think getting past the Dodgers will be what helps spark them to be better against Washington. When Scherzer is on he’s nigh unstoppable, that bullpen is finally decent, and they have good role players all around the club.

Does Jimmie Sherfy have a spot on the post-season roster?

Makakilo: Yes for three reasons.

  • His four relief appearances have been great (5 innings, zero earned runs, 6 strikeouts, and no walks.
  • Jimmy Sherfy was a closer for the Oregon Ducks, so if he was on the roster he could be an “emergency” closer.
  • His nickname would be “Wild Thing.” How cool would that be to have “Wild Thing” on the roster?

Jim: I think he has a real good chance. His two-inning save against the Rockies was a thing of beauty, striking out the heart of the Colorado order in the eighth. But I’d like to see him get a good deal more MLB experience over the coming three weeks. Save the Rockies, he won’t be facing any of the teams we’ll see, but I’d still like to have him working consistently with Chris Iannetta and Chris Herrmann. I think he and David Hernandez would be a solid 7th-inning option, before we get to the Bradley/Rodney (or Rodney/Bradley, if you prefer - and I know I do!) punch at the end of the game.

Keegan: Depending on how he performs for the remainder of September I feel it would be wise to include him on the postseason roster. Most of the hitters he will face have never faced him before, or have seen him in a limited capacity. He has shown an ability to produce quick outs. Like it or not he will likely be a key piece of the 2018 bullpen, so what better way to give him Major League experience than to throw him into the October fire? I think that he is up for the challenge.

Steven: He should. He has been pitching really well, and the Dbacks are short on bullpen options.

Tanner: DUH! He’s been really good, middle relief has been really thin, and he and Archie could be deadly in the 7th and 8th (granted I would prefer the 8th and 9th, respectively.).

Key four-game series against Colorado starts Monday. What do we need to do?

Makakilo: A split would retain the D-backs’ lead in the wild card race and the home field advantage. Any wins beyond that would be gravy! Keeping in mind that the D-backs swept the Rockies last weekend, I’m hoping for more than a split.

Jim: Yes, two of four would be perfectly fine. That will take four off our magic numbers, both for post-season play and for home-field advantage, and given this is the last team we face who are better than .500, that should be more than enough. But, of course, if the wild-card game takes place at Chase Field, it would be nice to dominate the series psychologically, for the purposes of that contest. Basically, yell “This is OUR house” in their face, and send them away, fearing to play here.

Keegan: I’ll go against the grain here and say that Arizona needs to dominate Colorado and sweep this series. The Rockies cannot leave Chase Field with any glimmer of hope performing here. Do not give them any momentum after they are coming off of a sweep of the Dodgers.Patrick Corbin and the bullpen will need to rebound this series. The Diamondbacks have played exceptionally well at Chase Field this season, so I don’t feel that a sweep is outside the realm of possibility.

Steven: We need to do our thing. Starters need to stay consistent, and the offense needs to not go into hibernation. If we can have those two things, then I think this could be a 3-1 series for the Dbacks. But, it also depends on how well the Rockies are playing.

Tanner: I think a split is the worst we should be allowed to do. I’d prefer 3-1 if a sweep is out of the question. I want us to come out still healthy (I swear to god if one more Dback gets hit in the hand…) and feeling good about our chances, since we likely will face this Rockies team (some slight changes obviously) in the Wild Card game.

As hurricanes pound Florida, what’s the most memorable or scary natural phenomena you’ve ever encountered?

Makakilo: I stargazed at the Mauna Kea Visitor Station. The mood started with a long drive through undeveloped land and a narrow road that turned upward into the clouds. As the elevation rose, I felt a penetrating cold. My jacket and my scarf were welcome companions. I parked on the side of the road and walked to the station. I kept the clouds company as darkness subtly arrived. I said goodbye to the clouds when they dropped below the visitor center and a clear sky emerged.

The dark sky was pierced by pinpoint stars – more stars than I expected. I was immersed in stars. I was thrilled to find Orion, my favorite constellation! When I least expected it, a young astronomer joined the group of awestruck visitors. His laser pointer revealed constellations while he regaled us with tales about Gods, with all too human weaknesses, that are reflected in the constellations.

The dazzling Milky Way was definitely the ninth wonder of the world. My imagination looked at the Milky Way and saw lighted walkways that lead to adventures of the Gods. Those adventures are well worth the walk – although dangers may lurk in dark spaces between the lights. And I thought of the beach scene where Jody Foster makes first contact with aliens in the movie Contact. I imagined stars blazing brighter than any in the earth’s sky. While seeing the dazzling Milky Way was memorable, the thoughts it invoked were beyond awesome and beyond amazing in my memory.

Jim: I was in an earthquake the first time I was out to the West coast. It was about a 7 on the Richter Scale at the epicenter, and enough to wake me up, in our hotel on Hollywood Blvd. The most surreal thing was looking out the window, and seeing the hotel pool, sloshing back and forth like a bathtub. That was certainly… concerning. The other one which sticks in my mind was the October 2010 hail-storm in Phoenix, with hailstones virtually the size of golfballs coming down [and I hjave the pics to prove it] I was genuinely worried the roof was going to collapse. Mother Nature can be a bitch at times!

Keegan: Growing up and living in Arizona my entire life I have not had to witness much frightening natural phenomena which is what I prefer. It’s why I choose to stay here. The flood in the summer of 2014 was something I hope to never have to experience again. I remember a similar flood here when I was around 8 years old or so. When I moved back to Arizona after 1 year in New Jersey, Mt. Lemon was on fire which was a sight to see at night. I have seen a few meteors light up the night sky on a late night drive and that can be slightly frightening.

Steven: Like Keegan, I was born and raised in Arizona, so natural disasters are not really too common around here (other than the heat). But the scariest one for me was in Flagstaff about five years ago, there was a tornado that touched down. I think it was a pretty minor one, but the skies were crazy and the hail and rain was out of this world. The worst part was that I decided to ride my bike the 6 miles to school that day. Being in Arizona, I never bothered to check the weather forecast, so I thought why would today be any different? I ended up standing on the side of a major road for thirty minutes with my backpack over my head shielding myself from golf ball sized hail. I debated on what the closest place I could seek shelter was because it was really, really bad. But just then, it all cleared up, and the rest of the day was beautiful.

Tanner: Lived in Arizona all my life, so I’ve mostly avoided natural disasters. Slept through an earthquake when I was about 6 or 7 once (sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed no less!). There was a time, summer of 2013 when I was home from college, and the rains that came, combined with the lack of drainage from the construction happening on the main street (house is on the very corner) almost flooded us out of the house temporarily. My dad had to drive me to work that night in the 4x4 Jeep we had (my boss was about to come get me himself in his pickup truck, so staying home was out of the question!). Also, really quick earthquake in Flagstaff once. By the time I realized what was happening it was over. Think that was spring 2015.

Player of the week

No clear consensus on a Player of the Week here: Pollock came out on top, but fell short of an overall majority, getting 39% of the vote. However, that was almost twice as much as anyone else, with just two percent separating Chris Iannetta (20%), Robbie Ray (19%) and Jimmie Sherfy (18%). Here are the updated totals, after all the voting for Week 22.

  1. Paul Goldschmidt: 327%
  2. Patrick Corbin: 245%
  3. Zack Greinke: 233%
  4. Robbie Ray: 230%
  5. Jake Lamb: 141%
  6. David Peralta: 137%
  7. Fernando Rodney: 106%
  8. Archie Bradley: 103%
  9. A.J. Pollock: 97%
  10. Chris Owings: 75%
  11. Brandon Drury: 60%
  12. Chris Iannetta: 54%
  13. Randall Delgado: 41%
  14. Taijuan Walker: 40%
  15. Nick Ahmed: 30%
  16. Zack Godley: 29%
  17. T.J. McFarland: 27%
  18. Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
  19. Ketel Marte: 24%
  20. Jimmie Sherfy, 18%
  21. Chris Herrmann: 16%
  22. J.D. Martinez: 11%
  23. J.J. Hoover: 9%
  24. Yasmany Tomas: 7%
  25. Daniel Descalso: 6%
  26. Jake Barrett: 5%
  27. Andrew Chafin: 2%
  28. Anthony Banda: 1%

The winning streak finally, inevitably, came to an end, but it was still a winning week for the Diamondbacks, beginning with the glorious slapping administered to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. And I’ve a feeling that might just impact the winner in this week’s poll...

Poll

Who was the Player of the Week, Sep 4-10

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    Archie Bradley: 3.1 IP, 0 H, 6:0 K:BB, 0.00 ERA
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Zack Greinke: 7 IP, 4 H, 6:1 K:BB, 1.29 ERA
    (0 votes)
  • 92%
    J.D. Martinez: 12-for-28, 7 HR, 11 RBI, 1.663 OPS
    (24 votes)
  • 3%
    Ketel Marte: 7-for-15, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 1.089 OPS
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Robbie Ray: 13.2 IP, 7 H, 26:2 K:BB, 1.32 ERA
    (0 votes)
26 votes total Vote Now