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Snake Bytes 6/10: Nine Figure Bullpen

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Rarely has it felt this good to say, “I told you so.”

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Colorado Rockies Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

*Clears throat

“My “hot take” of the season is that the Colorado Rockies’ gold plated bullpen turns out to be a counterfeit, and they seriously regret spending as much money as they did on bullpen arms by mid-season.” - Keegan Thompson, March 28th, 2018

“The distance separating the Rockies and Padres will only be a few games as the Rockies struggle to finish above .500. For the life of me I cannot understand why they spent as much as they did on bullpen arms. That has already blown up in their face before.” - Keegan Thompson, March 25th, 2018

“The Colorado Rockies made the list at #4 after a massive offseason spending spree on relievers Bryan Shaw, Jake McGee, and Wade Davis. They have a total of $106 million committed to that trio over the next three seasons and can ill-afford a decline in performance from one of those men. The last time they allocated that much money to two relievers, Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle both in 2000, it set them back quite a bit when each failed to play to expectations.” - Keegan Thompson, February 20th, 2018

h/t to Shoe for the correction in the comments. I was 8 years old at the time, so consider it my get out of jail free card. They still spent a crazy amount of money on arms, so my opinion doesn’t change. Sue me.

Arizona Diamondbacks 12, Colorado Rockies 7

[D’backs.com] D-backs’ 6-run 8th seals series win in Colorado - I want to make it clear that I do not think that Bryan Shaw, Wade Davis, Jake McGee, and Adam Ottavino are terrible relievers. However, Coors Field is an absolutely terrible environment to pitch in let alone call your home stadium. It was and still is absolutely mind blowing to me that the Rockies’ front office would spend as much money as they have on bullpen arms. Contrast that with Mike Hazen’s strategy of going bargain hunting and finding serviceable arms on team friendly contracts. The nature of the role is volatile, and playing in the thin air of Denver complicates matters for a bullpen arm. Shaw had his rear handed to him on national television last night in an abysmal 8th inning. The Diamondbacks batted around the order against him blasting across 6 runs putting the game well out of reach. 8 of the D’backs 13 hits came against Colorado relievers. Shaw walked off the field, his ERA inflated to 7.03, to the sound of emphatic boos from the home crowd.

[Arizona Sports] Goldschmidt stays hot as D-backs clinch series over Rockies - Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, and Nick Ahmed all collected multiple hits in the game. For Goldy, it was his fourth consecutive game with at least three or more hits, an Arizona Diamondbacks franchise record. His game has skyrocketed, offensively speaking, over the past week. At the start of play on Monday, he had a triple slash of .208/.325/.396 which has improved to .250/.360/.496 over the course of five games. He has collected 4 home runs (2 each on Friday and Saturday), 5 doubles, and 9 RBIs in that span.

“Paul has two huge home runs and has a tremendous day and they can’t pick up a ball that you practice probably 500 times in spring training and throughout the course of the year,” marveled Arizona manager Torey Lovullo. “We took advantage of it. Glad we were able to pile on six runs.”

[AZ Central] Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt rally past Rockies - The Diamondbacks’ bullpen, on the other hand, was bulletproof over 4 innings allowing only a single baserunner. Reno Aces bus driver Silvino Bracho struck out 4 of the 6 Rockies he faced, and 16 of his 21 pitches were thrown for strikes. Archie Bradley blasted through Nolan Arenado, Trevor Story (who homered twice in this game), and Gerardo Parra on only 8 pitches. However, Archie’s work didn’t end there as he had a bone to pick with the Rockies after Goldy was hit with a pitch in the top of the 9th.

“It’s our guy,” Bradley said. “He’s hit two homers. It was just kind of bush league, in my opinion. Even if you are setting up inside, you’re a big-league pitcher, a big-league catcher, you kind of know the intent of what you’re doing. Not in a retaliation, but you’re upset. He’s our guy, and when our guy gets hit, you want them to know that that’s not OK. Just not happy about it... When a guy has done some damage and you see him get hit, it kind of raises questions.”

[The Athletic] Paul Goldschmidt got drilled and the Diamondbacks are upset. Are they beyond retaliation? - If this was still Kirk Gibson’s ballclub, there would be little speculation as to what the Rockies would have coming for them this afternoon. The 9th inning plunking of the leagues’ premier slugger this week drew a rare reaction out of America’s First Baseman. A novice lip reader can conclude that Goldy said to Rockies’ catcher Tony Wolters, “That’s bullshit.” But the fact of the matter is that the philosophy of this team has changed since Goldy first entered the league in 2011. Something tells me a sweep of Colorado later today would be sufficient retaliation for Torey Lovullo’s squad.

Diamondbacks News

[AZ Central] GM Mike Hazen: Diamondbacks plan to stick with three catchers - Assuming there are no further injuries to the team (knocks on wood, throws salt over the shoulder), Mike Hazen faces difficult roster decisions once outfielders A.J. Pollock and Steven Souza Jr. return from the disabled list. For the time being, he states that the three headed catching monster, Jeff Mathis, Alex Avila, and John Ryan Murphy, is here to stay. That seems to suggest that Deven Marrero and Chris Owings are at risk of losing their roster spots.

“It’s a very demanding position,” Hazen said. “What we ask from that position, to dedicate nine innings to getting the pitchers through the game with as few runs as possible. There’s a lot of prep work that goes into that, there’s a lot of physical exertion that goes into that. Giving nine innings of your best because you’re fresh is very important to us behind the plate. Will we do this forever? Maybe not. Like if we have a guy that’s going to catch for us 110-120 games, we wouldn’t rule that out for the future. But right now, we’re not set up that way.”

[D’backs.com] D-backs exercise caution with Marte; Souza faces Ray in simulated game; Shipley shifts to relief in Triple-A - Torey Lovullo is taking it easy with the red hot Ketel Marte who tweaked his right shoulder on a head first slide last Sunday against the Miami Marlins. Steven Souza Jr. faced off against Robbie Ray in a simulated game. Souza still remains restricted from throwing which has been his largest setback in rehabbing his strained pectoral muscle. Meanwhile, Braden Shipley’s days as a starting pitcher may have passed him by for the time being. The organization has been utilizing him as a reliever in Reno since he returned from the disabled list after he experienced soreness in his throwing elbow.

“Just trying to increase his options to impact this team,” D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. “We’re not ruling out starting. We decided to build him back up in the ‘pen, but given where we’re at with Robbie and Shelby coming back, I think you will probably see him in the bullpen at least here for the short term. We’ll see what we’ve got with him in the ‘pen.”

[The Athletic] Jon Jay is a Diamondback for one main purpose: to lead off and get on base - Jon Jay-cob Jingleheimer Schmidt (as I called him during his season in San Diego) is still looking for his first hit in an Arizona Diamondbacks uniform. That is if he can figure out the correct uniform to wear for a given game. Torey Lovullo will deploy him primarily as a leadoff hitter because of his ability to get on base. Jay has a career on base percentage of .355, and would be a tremendous table setter for the heart of the lineup.

“It fits,” said Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo. “It fits for him, because that’s what he’d been doing in Kansas City. It’s the type of at-bat we’re looking for at the start of the game.”

[Fangraphs] Pitcher Spotlight: Clay Buchholz’s Career Saving Cutter - Clay Buchholz has been refreshing on #ClayDay in replacement of injured starters Robbie Ray and Taijuan Walker. His success this season is similar to what Zack Godley provided to the rotation last year. If Buchholz continues to pitch the way he has, he could remain in the rotation over Godley and Koch when Shelby Miller and Ray return. His cutter has generated an insane 64.5% O-swing rate and he has doubled the whiff rate on the pitch since 2016. His performance might not be sustainable over the full course of a season, but it would be prudent for Arizona to ride his strong performances for the time being.

Around the League

[MLB.com] Braves spray 14 hits, hold off LA to knot series - The San Fransisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers also lost yesterday, resulting in a three-way tie for second place in the National League West between them and the Rockies. The San Diego Padres refuse to fade to irrelevancy and remain 5.5 games back from the division lead. Most of the division, excluding Colorado, has played better recently and closed the gap in the wild card race.

[ESPN] Nats to place Stephen Strasburg on DL with shoulder inflammation - Washington Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg is heading back to the disabled list with shoulder inflammation. It’s just another injury to add to his long list since he entered the league in 2010. Strasburg has missed time on the disabled list each season since 2015, but last year was by far the best in his career. A lengthy absence from Strasburg would allow Atlanta and Philadelphia to remain in the NL East race.