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SnakePit Round Table: The Groinke edition

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We discuss Zack Greinke’s groin, Randall Delgado’s health and the bullpen situation,

Arizonia Diamondbacks v Chicago Cubs Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

How concerned should we be about Zack Greinke’s groin?

CumulusChoir: Not at all. According to this article from azcentral’s Nick Piecoro, Torey doesn’t think that the injury is particularly serious and at most will push Greinke a bit deeper into the rotation than usual. Unless there’s some revelation in the next few days that he can’t use something down there, I don’t see much of a reason to worry too much about Zack’s groin. No, I’m not going to make the obvious pun okay yes I am Zack Greinke more like Zack Groinke hahah yes.

Makakilo: Optimistically, the problem is here today and gonke tomorrow.

Keegan: Threw 40 pitches out of the bullpen and had positive remarks afterwards. Not concerned currently, but I’d still tab Robbie Ray as the Opening Day Starter.

Wesley Baier: I am a little concerned, but I also figured Ray would be the Opening Day Starter.

Jim: Anytime someone we’re paying $34 million a year sneezes, I’m convinced it’s bubonic plague. This does not appear to be significant, but it’s not the best note on which to start the season either. Groins are tricky things: just ask Yasmany Tomas. If we can arrange for Greinke to go into cryogenic stasis - or, at least, bubble-wrap - between his starts, I’m sure we’d all be happier.

James: Given how things went with his most recent bullpen session, I’m not terribly concerned. In fact, so long as he continues to be ready to go by April 11th, I’m more or less “fine”.

What do you see as the best option if he has to start the season on the DL?

CumulusChoir: Off days on April 1st and April 6th mean that we could feasibly run a four-man rotation until Greinke returned off of the DL. However, out of concern for our rotation’s prolonged health, bringing in a sixth starter would be a better option. Based on an incredibly limited and potentially inaccurate sample size, I recommend Matt Koch for the job. Through 11.1 IP he’s given up 3 runs- 2 of which are earned- on 10 hits with a K/BB ratio of 2.5. A few too many hits for my liking, but hey, if he can win us baseball games as efficiently as he has this Spring he’ll be a sufficient reinforcement until the old man returns.

Makakilo: It depends on the severity of the injury. If the injury is very minor, Greinke’s first start could be delayed a few days without any need to put him on the DL. If the injury is more serious and requires putting Greinke on the 10-day DL, I would move Shipley into the rotation until Greinke returns. Although Koch has a better ERA (1.59 vs 3.38) in spring training, Koch faced lower quality batters (6.7 vs 8.2). Shipley has more innings in the Majors (95 vs 18), so I have more confidence in the repeatability of Shipley’s numbers. On the other hand, the D-backs optioned Braden Shipley to Reno so maybe it’s a close decision between Koch and Shipley.

Keegan: I don’t think a DL stint is going to be necessary after his results today. With the off day on April 1st, I envision him making a start the first time through the rotation. It might just not come on Opening Day. If it had to go to someone, I would say Matt Koch.

Wesley: A four man rotation is possibility if the injury isn’t too severe. Shipley or Koch are reasonable for a couple spot starts. Long term and later in the season, I’d expect to see Taylor Clarke or Jon Duplantier.

Jim: With the weird way the calendar starts this season, the team can handle a delay reasonably well, and it may not be necessary to find a replacement. But Matt Koch has looked pretty good this spring, to the point where I’d be satisfied for him to be a sixth starter, and interested to see whether he can transform his good spring numbers into the regular season. Given his ERA last year, doing so might mean he deserves to be comeback player of the year!

James: As previously noted, the Diamondbacks have an awfully bizzare schedule to open the season. Greinke could potentially start the season on the DL and the Diamondbacks could still not “miss” him until April 11th. In fact, if, despite the most recent bullpen session’s success, Greinke is not ready to go for the opening series (perhaps game three), I would not be the least bit surprised to see Arizona do exactly that, start the season with Greinke on the DL just to give the team some extra flexibility with the roster until they actually need a fifth starter.

Randall Delgado looks set to be out of action. Who should replace him?

CumulusChoir: If Greinke starts the season off of the DL thus mitigating the need for a sixth starter out of the gate, Matt Koch would be a great option as a long reliever. He’s shown himself to be a reliable starter this Spring and so could spot start when needed a la Delgado of last season while also having the strike-throwing ability to be effective in long relief. If Greinke starts on the DL and Koch is called up to cover for him, Albert Suarez would be a good replacement if for no other reason than to avoid having to give him back to the Giants.

Makakilo: Why can’t there be a platoon in long relief instead of just one pitcher?

Relievers are more volatile than starters. Because they did well in spring training, I would go with TJ McFarland and Albert Suarez. In spring training, TJ McFarland has the lower ERA and is a lefty (0 ERA in 7.1 IP against 8.2 Quality hitters, vs 3.72 ERA in 9.2 IP against 7.7 Quality hitters). Albert Suarez has pitched more innings per game and is a righty.

Keegan: Fortunately, there certainly are an abundance of options. For me the choice to replace Delgado would come down to Kris Medlen or Albert Suarez. Both have started games previously and would be able to fill the role that Delgado did last season. Keep in mind that Suarez was a Rule 5 Draft pick from the San Francisco Giants, so he might have the inside track to begin the season.

Jim: Suarez’s roster situation probably gives him a bit of an edge. There’s absolutely no rush to get Delgado back, though if Suarez steps up and does a good job, it’s going to make for some interesting roster decisions when Randall is finally healthy.

James: I think it is pretty telling that the team currently sits at 41 players on the roster and that Albert Suarez has not yet been offered back to the Giants. The team is not in a position to just hide Suarez away the way they did Oscar Hernandez. I also don’t see the team keeping Suarez around if he is only going to contribute 20-30 innings of work as a righty middle reliever in short outings. They have plenty of other, frankly better, options to fill that role. I think at this point, the position is pretty much Suarez’s to lose. If he does lose it, I could see the team possibly turning to Kris Medlen.

How do you expect the rest of the bullpen to shake down?

CumulusChoir: The remaining week-and-a-half of Spring Training games could very well change my mind, but as of right now my picks are: Archie, Hirano, Boxberger, Chafin, Bastardo, Salas, and Suarez/Delgado if and when he’s healthy enough to pitch again.

Makakilo: My picks: Hirano (closer), Bradley(8th inning and fireman), Boxberger(7th inning), Chafin (lefty), McFarland (long lefty), Suarez (long righty), and Bastardo (picking the seventh position was extremely difficult because several pitchers could do well). Antonio Bastardo was picked because of his eight strikeouts in 5.1 innings during spring training.

Keegan: It’s pretty much assumed that Bradley, Hirano, Boxberger, and Chafin are locks. Personally I would go with a nine man bullpen to begin the season. I would start Sherfy in the AAA Reno bullpen to begin the season because he still has options remaining. I’m not much of a T.J. McFarland fan, so he can either accept a minor league assignment or become a free agent. As stated above, I would take both Medlen and Suarez. Deciding the final two spots are the most difficult for me, and that comes down to Neftali Feliz, Antonio Bastardo, and Jorge De La Rosa. Bastardo and JDLR are both lefties, so it would not be necessary to carry both of them. However, we are most familiar with JDLR because he was with us for the entirety of the 2017 season. I like the idea of going with the guys who are non roster invitees because they have performed well this season, have had success and the past, and would not force us to lose much of the depth to begin the season. I sure am glad I do not have to make that decision.

Jim: I do wonder if the off-days will lend themselves to some creative use of the roster spots early. With no games the first Sunday and Friday, the team could go almost two weeks without needing a fifth starter, and could use the slot for an additional reliever instead However, which of our starters have any minor-league options left? I imagine Zack Godley does, and perhaps Robbie Ray as well. Not sure about Patrick Corbin or Taijuan Walker. But if it’s going to be a seven-man pen, I think it’ll be Boxberger (closer), Hirano and Bradley (set-up), Chafin (lefty), McFarland (LOOGY), Suarez and probably Feliz. If there’s an eighth spot, perhaps another lefty, like Bastardo or De La Rosa.

James: There is no reason to believe that Boxberger, Bradley, Hirano and Chafin are anything but locks. The team also signed McFarland to a major league deal. Despite not being a fan of having him out of the bullpen, I think he’ll have to play his way out of the job as the season goes along. Suarez needs to be retained or offered back. If Delgado isn’t ready, I think they keep him. I get the feeling that one of the reason for so many NRIs is that the front office is not yet sold on the quality of some of the internal options. That means that Neftali Feliz and Anthony Bastardo probably have a good chance of making the roster as well. Jorge De La Rosa could supplant Bastardo, but given the team already has one LOOGY in McFarland, I would favour Bastardo.

Wesley: There’s not a whole lot I can add that hasn’t been said, but I would assume Bradley, Boxberger, Hirano, Chafin are a given, as has been said. Antonio Bastardo and Neftali Feliz have been excellent this spring, so no surprise to me if they also make the bullpen. That’s six guys, and I’m guessing an eight man bullpen, so throw in McFarland, and I’d guess Jorge De La Rosa and/or Suarez you have your bullpen. If Delgado is ready, swap out Suarez, who’ll have to be offered back to his original team as a Rule 5 pick.

Do you have any other areas of concern as we head into the final full week of spring?

CumulusChoir: Not really. I’d like to see Avila stop sucking so hard at the plate (five hit game incoming don’t @ me), but that’s just a nitpick that won’t even be an issue in a few weeks time, I’m sure. As things stand now I’m really comfortable with the team’s roster strength and depth. Barring a few freak injuries, this season could very well be better than the last.

Makakilo: No. I’m feeling confident and excited that this season’s team will be awesome - as good as last season’s team! The increased depth in the outfield will be extremely valuable, especially for games played at Chase. I’m open to the probability that using a humidor helps our pitchers repeat their outstanding results from last season.

Keegan: Depth among our starting pitchers. That’s my broken record you hear skipping. My apologies. At least the team has made it through the majority of Spring Training relatively intact. Let’s get this season started!

Wesley: Starting pitching depth is a concern. How the humidor will affect Chase Field going forward. Injuries to key players would be disastrous since we don’t have the minor league depth to absorb injuries.

Jim: So far, so good: health is always my big concern during spring, and Greinke aside, we’ve survived it pretty well. I’m now at the point where I’ve had enough of meaningless spring training. Bring on the real games!

James: Besides starting pitching depth, I am a bit concerned about team health in general. Yes, Mike Hazen went out and bolstered the outfield this off-season, but the fact remains, the health of certain members of that squad still looms large (I’m looking at you A.J.). Despite the number of days lost by some big parts of the opening day roster last season, the Diamondbacks were actually quite fortunate with injuries, even surviving Martinez getting hit in the hand by a pitch in his very first game with the team. The Diamondbacks are going to need similar luck with health again this season if they are going to be competitive.

Are you paying any attention to March Madness?

CumulusChoir: Yeah. The Sun Devils lost their play-in game, which sucks, but U of A losing in the first round to a No. 13 seed is better than any ASU win would’ve been anyway, so I’m pretty content. R.I.P. everyone’s bracket though. I mean, seriously, UMBC? Wow.

Makakilo: No.

Keegan: Yes, it is rather maddening that we have to wait until the end of March for regular season baseball to begin.

Wesley: Not at all.

Jim: Only for schadenfreude purposes. I was remarkably irritated when local sports media went all fawning over the Sun Devils after about 10 days of play, with now-embarrassing Tweets like this:

Suffice it to say, ASU’s season will end up utterly forgotten. Which is the way all college sports seasons SHOULD be…

James: Beyond seeing the Sun Devils end their season in disappointing, if not entirely predictable fashion, and then watching the Wildcats suffer perhaps the biggest embarrassment of a loss in team history, no. ASU limped into a play-in game and the Wildcats quite simply just gave up and quit playing entirely. I’m ready for real baseball to begin anytime now.