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Preview: 4/11 @ Giants

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How good has our starting pitching been so far?

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Today's Lineups

ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS
Jarrod Dyson - LF Austin Jackson - CF
Ketel Marte - 2B Joe Panik - 2B
Paul Goldschmidt - 1B Andrew McCutchen - RF
A.J. Pollock - CF Buster Posey - 1B
Chris Owings - RF Evan Longoria - 3B
Nick Ahmed - SS Nick Hundley - C
Deven Marrero - 3B Hunter Pence - LF
John Ryan Murphy - C Brandon Crawford - SS
Robbie Ray - LHP Andrew Suarez - LHP

After 11 games, the D-backs’ rotation are 6-1 with an ERA of 3.18 - good for second in the National League, behind only the Dodgers (2.03, though amusingly, they’re only 3-3!). What’s impressive is that they done that, despite allowing eight home-runs - only four rotations have allowed more. Six came in the opening series against the Rockies, but they’ve only allowed one (the three-run shot by Jose Martinez off Greinke) since April 2. That has been countered by a best in the league K-rate of 10.9 per nine innings, coupled with the lowest walk-rate (2.35). Thus far, the D-backs have a K:BB ratio of 4.65. No-one else is above four, and league average is 2.48.

As shoe pointed out the other day, those peripherals mean that the team’s FIP (basically, expected ERA, based on K-, BB- and HR-rate) is lower than their actual ERA, at 2.95. This suggests that the success so far is based on actual ability, not good luck with balls in play, and bodes well for the performance being sustainable going forward, providing the peripherals are. Indeed, you can argue the starters have been unlucky in terms of that home-run rate. If that regresses to what’s expected (something something humidor), then the rotation’s ERA would be more likely to drop. xFIP, a variant of FIP that uses a “normal” home-run rate, has the D-backs’ starters at 2.49, the lowest figure in the league.

They’ve also been pitching deeper into games than anyone else, averaging 5.91 innings per start. Again, that is best in the league, and more than half an inning per start higher than the league average of 5.38. The other area in which all our pitchers (not just the starters) have excelled is in getting swings and misses. Batters have come up empty at 29.6% of all Arizona pitches at which they swung, again the highest figure in the league. The D-backs starting pitching last year was probably the largest factor in the team’s turnaround, and so far, early indications are very promising that it’ll continue. Now, if we can just get Robbie Ray’s ERA down from its current 5.73...