The D-backs clinched their first post-season spot in six years. Discuss.
James: It’s about time. It only took all season long, but the Rockies finally faded, though I do think they might still limp into the final playoff spot. This is a welcome way to be wrong about season expectations. I’m still not a big fan of the Wild Card, and I am very opposed to a one-game play-in. However, I will take whatever I can get when it comes to the Diamondbacks playing meaningful baseball in the month of October. Now it’s time for the team to get rested and healthy. It’s time for the pitching to get set for the playoffs, even if that means not giving 100% in the final series in Kansas City.
Keegan: Looking back and reflecting it’s somewhat insane to think it took 6 years between postseason appearances considering the talent on the 2011 team and this 2017 team. Paul Goldschmidt was just emerging in 2011, and I was starting to become concerned that he would never reach the playoffs again in a Diamondbacks uniform. The past regimes deserve credit for what they’ve built here prior to Mike Hazen as his reign here has just begun. Kudos to him for recognizing the talent that was already on hand, making a few tweaks, and hiring the right minds to figure out how to best utilize that talent. Torey Lovullo did an admirable job as a first year manager, and it cannot be overstated how important it was for him to have Ron Gardenhire as his right hand man. It has never felt so good to be so wrong. I’m truly happy for everyone on that team. Fenway West here we come!
Charlie: WE’RE GONNA GET SOME BLUEBARRY SCHNAPPS AND TRY TO BRING DOWN SOME LIGHTPOSTS ON JEFFERSON WOOOO GO D-BACKS!
Makakilo: A season to remember! Well done Diamondbacks and well done Snakepitters! Let’s make the most of the playoffs!
Jim: Thank heavens for the wild-card, because otherwise, no team in the West unable to afford a $200+ million payroll might ever see the post-season. And given we have three of the best five teams in the league, that would be a tad unfair. I’ll take a win or go home contest over the “just go home alternative.” This year has been an amazing turnaround. Everyone involved deserves nothing by plaudits for their parts in it. Heck, even a couple of moves Dave Stewart engineered worked out not too badly [hello, Zack Godley]. Hopefully, it can be sustained - unlike our previous jaunts to the post-season - and we can be regular contenders. Bring on the wild-card game, and then hopefully, the Dodgers!
The starting pitching struggled badly last week. Are you concerned?
James: I am somewhat worried, because a lot of the issues came from the inability to reliably throw strikes and the number of home runs the staff allowed. Then again, two of those games were against the Marlins, who have a very dangerous offense, especially in the top half of their lineup. Just about any team trying to beat the Marlins is going to have to do it by getting the offense going a bit more than usual. Overall, I’ll take what the rotation has shown as a whole for the entire season as a better sample size of what to expect in October.
Keegan: Among the many things I have learned from this site one of them is that it’s foolish to freakout over minor blips. The rotation has been the biggest reason for success this season, and I can foresee Greinke and Ray shutting down opposing teams in the playoffs. The game has just gotten away from our pitching staff at times this week. Walker looked very good in the first two innings of his frustrating losses. They’ll be fine.
Charlie: How they perform this week is of more concern. Because I take comfort/fear in recency bias. There’s always gonna be some worry, but anyone in this rotation is capable of putting up 7 solid innings of 2-run ball at any given point.
Makakilo: Greinke and Ray had a one-game drop in strikeouts (Greinke only had 3 strikeouts on 22 September, and Ray only had 6 strikeouts on 20 September). In those two games each pitcher experienced a season high for homers in a single game. What was the cause? I do not know. The cause was not the catcher because one game was caught by Iannetta and one game was caught by Herrmann. The cause was not the home plate umpire because one game was called by Tim Timmons and one game was called by Sam Holbrook. Regardless of the cause, I have high confidence that these two pitchers will carry the D-backs far into the playoffs!
Walker, Corbin, and Godley were all bitten by a single bad inning (17 September, 18 September, and 19 September). The cause was probably bad luck. Because the D-backs’ offense is so great, it would be great to prevent big innings by the other team! I am confident good luck will return.
Pregame analysis needs to consider whether to adjust strategies to prevent big innings. One decision is which hitters to intentional walk or unintentionally walk with runners on base. Another decision is when to go for the out at first and when to go for the lead runner. Another decision is when to pull each pitcher based on his tendencies, the situation, how he is pitching that day, and who is available in the bullpen.
Jim: No. It’s one of those things that happens. Sometimes, the stars align in a good way, sometimes a bad one. The cycle through our rotation immediately prior to the poor run, our starters had an ERA below one (four earned runs over 35.2 IP, with a K:BB of 38:8. No-one proclaimed that meant we were a shoe-in for the World Series. Of course, when you’re talking about a best of five - or even a one-and-done - the margin for error is smaller. But overall, I’d put our rotation up against anyone’s.
Does J.D. Martinez deserve MVP consideration?
James: He does deserve some, and he will get some votes. However, I can think of at least five other candidates that I would place ahead of him; Goldschmidt, Arenado, Stanton, Redmond, and Votto.
Keegan: Create some quasi-multi-league MVP award, and he absolutely deserves it. He carried this team at times throughout the 2nd half. Martinez will be very well taken care of in the off season despite the lack of accolades. It would be quite the fuss if he was somehow able to pull it off, but I don’t think that’s likely to happen.
Charlie: If this were some sort of combined MVP situation, definitely, since he wasn’t any slouch in Detroit. As such, I see him getting votes, but because he was traded midseason he’ll probably not be too high up. It’ll probably be higher than anyone who was a midseason acquisition was before, though.
Makakilo: Yes. He has a D-back-record of 14 HRs in a single month (with 29 RBIs). By lifting the team into contention, he has earned consideration in a rare circumstance. What is rare is that despite missing 6 weeks at the start of the season with a sprained ligament, despite being traded to the D-backs on 19 July, he made an impact that arguably put them into the postseason.
The second question is of all those being considered, who will win? My pick is on his same team - Paul Goldschmidt. Although JD Martinez has a higher OPS+ (167 vs 147), Goldschmidt has the higher batting average and on-base percentage. Goldschmidt is better defensively (dWAR +.2 vs -.2), and contributed to the D-backs through the season. How fortunate for one team to have two candidates for MVP!
Jim: In terms of impact, there’s no doubt he has been the Diamondbacks’ MVP over the second half. But one of the factors voters are told explicitly by the BBWAA to consider, is games played. Great though he has been, he’ll end with a tally of only around 60 games. There may be a token mention or two at the back of ballots, but those mentioned by James do deserve to be higher up.
How do you see the bullpen shaping up for the post-season?
James: That’s a tough one to peg, largely because Lovullo has played it close to the vest with regard to who the odd man out in the rotation is going to be. There are plenty of people who like the idea of two lefty and two righty starters. In that scenario, either Walker or Godley goes to the bullpen. If I were making the call, I would be sending Corbin to the bullpen as my dominant lefty who has the ability to eat innings as well. In the playoffs, starting outings that end after three or four innings are not all that uncommon. Also, we saw last season what Corbin could do out of the bullpen, deep into the calendar. I’m not sold that Walker can reliably come out of the bullpen like that.
Keegan: Well we know that Bradley and Rodney are sure locks. I would like to believe that Sherfy has pitched his way on that staff too. A bit scary throwing a still green rookie in that atmosphere, but imagine the confidence that could build should he succeed in that environment. David Hernandez will be in there by default, and homie needs to lock it down. I think Taijuan Walker is going to be the odd man out of the starting rotation and will find himself in the bullpen, but I’m not overly concerned in his ability to get 3 quick outs. Just need the starters to go 7 innings and pass the baton to Bradley and Rodney.
Charlie: I’m a little scared of our bullpen beyond the last two guys. I definitely think Sherfy should be there. Going with a four-man rotation for the postseason means one of the starters could be freed up for long-relief, and I think that will strengthen the overall unit. Doesn’t really matter who it is, I would trust them to a certain point.
Makakilo: I see a powerhouse bullpen in the seventh, eighth, and ninth inning - Jimmie Sherfy, Archie Bradley, and Fernando Rodney.
Starting August 20, Jimmie Sherfy pitched 10.2 innings with zero earned runs allowed, 9 strikeouts, and 2 walks. That performance is nearly beyond the realm of reality!
In July, August, and September, Archie Bradley pitched in 32 games, and allowed earned runs in only 4 games (2 in July, 1 in August, and 1 in September). Of those 4 games, only 1 game (in July) was a loss for the D-backs. That is spectacular!
In July, August, and September, Fernando Rodney pitched in 29 games, and allowed earned runs in only 6 games (2 in July, 3 in August, and 1 in September). Of those 6 games, only 2 games (July and September) were losses for the D-backs. Again, that is spectacular!
I see one of the starting pitchers (all five are stars so picking one is a difficult decision) could be used very effectively in long relief!
Jim: Starters go six, then Sherfy, Bradley and Rodney. With travel says, we won’t need anything else. Or, at least, not in the games we win, and if it doesn’t matter who pitches mop-up duty in the losses. If Lovullo used the likes of Jake Barrett of T.J. McFarland with a lead of less than five runs, I’ll want to know the reason why.
What do you want out of the final two series?
James: I want to see good, competitive baseball. I want to see some role-players getting some starts, but doing the things that starters do. Goldschmidt, Martinez, Lamb, and Pollock should all get days off, as should Iannetta. Although I am not a fan of Herrmann behind the dish, I want Iannetta (and possibly Mathis) as the only ones starting back there in the playoffs. If that means Herrmann needs to catch a few extra games over the last two series to keep knees fresh, so be it. Also, most importantly, I want the team to get the rotation set for the WC and NLDS.
Keegan: Do not give the Giants any hope for 2018. They are due for a rebound next season much like the Diamondbacks this year because they are not as awful of a team as we have seen. For now, let’s just assure them the worst record of the 2017 season. I would like to see the pitching staff rebound and head into that one game play in on a strong note. I want to see Goldy get to a nice round 40 home runs. Not that I think it makes any difference in the eyes of MVP voters, but I think it only strengthens the argument for him.
Charlie: Friendship, laughter, and fun!
Makakilo: Have starters stay sharp by playing together (although I like what James said about days off), set the rotation order for the playoffs, stay healthy, make winning a habit.
Jim: I really don’t care. Rest the starters, but play them enough to keep them fresh. Lovullo has done a bang-up job with his line-ups all year - no matter what the haters say! - and I’ve no doubt he’ll get the balance right. Obviously, last couple of games will be mostly the Aces players, to ensure the bullpen is 100% fresh for the wild-card game and beyond. That contest will be an “all hands” event, with an extremely quick hook if we fall behind. We’ll need everyone to hand for that.
If you had to live in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and as what character?
James: As I used to be known around here as Tolkien Bard, I would live in Middle-earth. You can take your pick as to which movie I would be inhabiting it from. As for what character I would play, the one I would pick (Tom Bombadil) was left out, so I’ll go with Gloin (Gimli’s father and a hero of the Lonely Mountain kingdom) or Elrohir, one of Elrond’s twin sons. The first fits me better, but the second is appealing, as it means I was around for a very long while and that I was immortal.
Keegan: Gladiator was on yesterday. Gladiator is my favorite movie. “Am I not merciful?!?!?!” Gotta love Maximus.
Makakilo: Because I love adventures, I limited my candidate movies to adventure stories. I picked The Princess Bride because it had the “most passionate kiss since the invention of the kiss.” My character would be Westley. First, he is a hero. Second, he is loved. Third, his life is interesting. He grows up as a farmhand, then becomes a prisoner, then becomes Dread Pirate Roberts, then the Man In Black, (then he dies and is brought back to life – a rare experience), then he bests the bad guy to win the woman who loves him. He lives happily ever after. That’s a life worth living!
Jim: The two which have most accurately reflected my life at some point are probably Office Space and Shaun of the Dead. Neither would EXACTLY be my choices of cinematic universe! Instead, sign me up as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady. It would be totally cool to be in a musical, without needing to be able to sing!
Player of the Week
A very tight decision in last week’s poll saw Greinke edge Martinez, by a 38-34% margin. Zack moves up into second spot as a result, and J.D. also climbs several spots as a result. Here are the updated totals, after all the voting for Week 24.
- Paul Goldschmidt: 327%
- Zack Greinke: 271%
- Patrick Corbin: 245%
- Robbie Ray: 230%
- Jake Lamb: 141%
- J.D. Martinez: 137%
- David Peralta: 137%
- A.J. Pollock: 113%
- Fernando Rodney: 106%
- Archie Bradley: 107%
- Chris Owings: 75%
- Brandon Drury: 60%
- Chris Iannetta: 54%
- Randall Delgado: 41%
- Zack Godley: 40%
- Taijuan Walker: 40%
- Nick Ahmed: 30%
- Ketel Marte: 28%
- T.J. McFarland: 27%
- Jeremy Hazelbaker: 25%
- Jimmie Sherfy, 18%
- Chris Herrmann: 16%
- J.J. Hoover: 9%
- Yasmany Tomas: 7%
- Daniel Descalso: 6%
- Jake Barrett: 5%
- Andrew Chafin: 2%
- Anthony Banda: 1%
This time round, not much from the starting pitching, for obvious reasons! But the offense did their part in keeping the team going, and finishing off the team’s push to the post-season. Here are this week’s candidates.
Who was the Player of the Week, Sep 18-24
This poll is closed
Patrick Corbin: 11.2 IP, 9 H, 8:7 K:BB, 4.63 ERA + 3B
J.D. Martinez: 8-for-24, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 1.157 OPS
David Peralta: 8-for-16, HR, 5 RBI, 1.287 OPS
A.J. Pollock: 5-for-22, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1.028 OPS
Jimmie Sherfy: 3.2 IP, 3 H, 3:2 K:BB, 0.00 ERA