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SnakePit Round Table: Annoyed edition


26th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival - Day 10 Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

If you’re interested in being a “reader representative” on next week’s round table, speak up in the comments. I email the first qualifying person to post the questions on Saturday (so, obviously, you need to have an email address attached to your account!). You’ll need to be able to get the answers back to me by Sunday evening, so a timely turnaround will be necessary.

Does the team have an Archie Bradley problem?

Makakilo: Yes! Three observations:

  • Fifty percent is a problem. (Before today) Archie held the other team scoreless in 5 of his last 10 appearances; he allowed earned runs in 3 appearances, and he allowed inherited runners to score in 2 of the other 7 appearances.
  • ERA is a problem: In his last ten games, his ERA is 7.0.
  • Today’s game (Sunday) - his first pitch was hit hard for a walk-off win, letting 2 more inherited runs score.

Jim: I think the fanbase certainly does. It has been a spectacular crash. I don’t think I’ve seen them sour so hard and fast on a player since Eric Byrnes. And I must confess, every time I see a commercial with him (hello, Ford), I have a rather negative reaction. But you have to wonder what happened to Bradley at the All-Star break?

  • 1st half: 45.2 IP, 31 H, 11 R, 11 ER, 11 BB, 42 SO, 5 HR, 1.97 ERA
  • 2nd half: 17.1 IP, 18 H, 15 R, 15 ER, 8 BB, 23 SO, 3 HR, 7.79 ERA

The strikeouts are still certainly there, but the walks and hits are sharply up. He simply can’t be trusted in any high-leverage situation right now. Use Jimmie Sherfy. Use Brad Ziegler. Use anyone else.

Edbigghead: Seems like we do when Bradley is put in high leverage situations, as Torey likes to use him. I would absolutely still use Bradley in other, non-important situations. A month back we all contemplated if he had an “injured finger” or “blister”, but I am convinced now that he is healthy but just cannot throw effectively or selectively. In my personal opinion Bradley’s pop star image and “passion” has overshadowed his on field ability. Perhaps Bradley could focus on pitching improvement and less on his new blog, swag and image. We do not need a Brian Wilson.

Keegan: Among other glaring issues, yes. Bradley is just too damn predictable right now. I don’t think it needs to be explained in depth that MLB hitters have no problems whatsoever in hitting ~96 MPH fastballs. This season he has featured nothing else besides that and his knuckle curve, which he’s had to use sparingly because of his fingernail issue. Hitters can just sit on his fastball and are doing major damage against him. Should probably invest more time in figuring out how to evolve his pitch mix.

Cumulus: Definitely. Pitchers with only two pitches i.e. Yoshihisa Hirano, are successful because A. they’re unpredictable, and B. their mechanics are solid. Archie, on the other hand, is about as predictable and wild a pitcher as they come: 96 MPH fastball down and away, 82 MPH knuckle curve in the dirt, 94 MPH fastball up and in, 81 mph knuckle curve way inside…

Until he can develop a tertiary pitch or increase the effectiveness and unpredictability of his current arsenal, we’re going to continue to see hitters square up his offerings and Archie single-handedly blow games that the Diamondbacks have absolutely no business losing.

Jack: Honestly it seemed like as Archie walked in from the bullpen he had the look of someone being fed to the lions in the Coliseum. Yeah, there is a problem. The back end of this bullpen is a train wreck at the moment. But these are the guys that got them here, so to speak, and they are going to have to get better or the team’s chances of making it to the post season are sunk. Don’t ask me about the post season, and how they’d navigate that.

Not the best of weeks against our division rivals. What went wrong?

Makakilo: Two things could improve.

  • Low runs scored. Last week’s average of 2.14 runs per game was the second lowest week of the season (lowest week was 20-26 May with 2.0 runs per game). Torey Lovullo said, “Every team and every clubhouse has the same discussions at some point during the year and that’s hitting with men in scoring position and just being patient.”
  • Bullpen wasn’t amazing. Last week, the rotation allowed an amazing average of 1.14 runs per game, which gave the D-backs winning chances. Sadly, the bullpen did not match the amazing rotation.

Jim: Me listening to Mrs. SnakePit. Saturday night, we get in: “Let’s put the baseball on,” she says. Against my better judgment, I comply. Dispiriting 8th-inning meltdown follows. Sunday afternoon, we get in. “Let’s put the baseball on,” she says. SEVERELY against my better judgment, I comply. Dispiriting 9th-inning meltdown follows. Losing three straight one-run games on the road, to a good Dodgers team, is one thing. Doing so when you’ve had the lead in each of them is quite another. I’m taking a break from watching this team, for the sake of my mental health.

But we can’t really blame just the bullpen when the hitting has been completely feeble on this road-trip. You won’t win many weeks scoring 12 runs over the seven games, and can’t expect the pitching to come up to the necessary level of excellence required on a nightly basis. I don’t care how upset Steven Souza gets when you ask him about it. The team needs to score more runs if they are to compete down the stretch.

Edbigghead: Starting pitching gems have been wasting by LIMP offense and late inning bullpen implosions. Now that the rosters have expanded it’s time to shake things up and stop following the same routine with regard to 7th, 8th and 9th innings. Even if we are up by just 1 run I say utilize the bullpen in match up situations. Not loyalty. As far as offense goes, I noted in a recap months back that the offense was “limp” and I was promptly torn down. So be it. Where are we know?

Keegan: Contrary to what Steven Souza Jr.’s terrible attitude suggests, the anemic offense isn’t doing this team any favors. I’m too lazy and could care less to go back and look, but I’m fairly certain the D’backs have scored only 23 runs (!!!) over their last 10 games. The lineup, bullpen, and Torey Lovullo’s late inning decisions really cost this team especially on this road trip. You have four damn catchers on the roster for reasons that are beyond me, yet you allow all of them, who all suck at hitting, take their hacks late in the game? Christian Walker should be getting a pinch hit appearance every single game from the 7th inning on for the rest of this month. And good lord will someone please put out a missing person report on Jimmie Sherfy?

Cumulus: Anemic offense and bad showings by the Brads out of the bullpen. The past week has seen the Diamondbacks put on their best New York Mets impression, and oh boy has it sucked. This feels like a retread of May, which is especially unfortunate given the sheer dominance by the D-backs’ starters lately. This stretch has been last year’s 13-game winning streak without any of the clutch, dominating offense needed to secure wins.

Jack: The offense first and foremost. Obviously bullpen is messed up now too. But it sure would have been nice to have a few good run scoring games and comfortable margin of victory for at least a couple of games to give everyone a breather. Right now, this offense is in the grips of a severe 10 game hitting slump. They are tight, and not having good at bats. Will it be a 25 game hitting slump like May, or do they pull out of it ? I have no idea. But I know this feeling… the feeling of resignation that they just are not going to score runs. It looks and feels EXACTLY like May.

Any surprises (presences or absences) in the September call-ups?

Makakilo: I anticipated more bullpen help, such as Jake Barrett and Joey Krehbiel, who are on the 40-man roster. Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing pitchers Matt Koch, Silvino Bracho, and Jimmie Sherfy.

As of Sunday morning, the D-backs have not yet announced their starting pitchers for Monday and Tuesday. Will Matt Koch make a spot start? On 25 August, pitching for AAA Reno, he allowed 1 earned run in 7 innings.

Jim: I guess they had to leave Reno with enough players to finish out the season, but right now, I think it’s about what we expected. We’ll likely see some more once the Aces season is finished, and curious to see what they do with Matt Andriese, and how he ends up being used.

Edbigghead: Not really. I am hella happy that Sherfy, Bracho and Koch are up. We must utilize them immediately and not allow them to waste away in the bullpen. Owings I can go with or without. Loyalty again presents itself. I bet if we looking into the offense and defensive #’s in the minors there would be at least 2-3 players (other than Walker and Brito) that have better #s than Owings. I am against carrying 4 catchers.

Keegan: Not surprised. Use them. They’re there for a reason.

Cumulus: No surprises. It’s nice to see Socrates Brito up though, and I expect for Ildemaro Vargas to make his way back on the roster once Reno’s season has wrapped up. However, as far as I’m concerned there’s only one move that really matters: Jimmie Sherfy has been freed.

Jack: No surprises as to who is here. Ask me again in 2 days if anyone else has been called up. The only one on the Probables List from my article the other day that isn’t here is Barrett. The possibles portion of the list produced only Koch, and of course Stewart in place of Recker. A little disappointed not to see Lopez.

What do you want to see Torey Lovullo do differently down the stretch?

Makakilo: More pinch hitting by Mathis, Descalso, Christian Walker, Ahmed, and possibly Dyson (if he is called up).

When Lovullo did not pinch-hit for Mathis or Greinke, I wondered, “Who has better results when pinch hitting?” That can be measured by the pinch ratio (PR)*. When the PR is greater than 1, the player bats better when pinch hitting.

  • 2.7 PR Jeff Mathis , 1 RBI in 4 ABs (last season 1 RBI in 1 pinch hit AB)
  • 2.5 PR Jarrod Dyson, 1 RBI in 4 ABs
  • 1.8 PR Nick Ahmed, 1 RBI in 5 ABs (last season’s PR was 2.2, 2 RBI in 6 AB)
  • 1.6 PR Ketel Marte, 2 RBIs in 11 ABs
  • 1.4 PR Daniel Descalso, 4 RBIs in 32 ABs (last season 7 RBIs in 26 ABs)
  • 1.4 PR Alex Avila, 1 RBI in 16 ABs
  • 1.3 PR Jake Lamb (on DL), 1 RBIs in 4 ABs
  • 1.1 PR Chris Owings, 1 RBI in 20 ABs
  • 1.0 PR Christian Walker, 2 RBIs in 18 ABs (last season 2 RBIs in 9 ABs – they were homers)
  • 0.7 PR David Peralta, 0 RBIs in 5 ABs (last season PR was 2.1, 1 RBI in 13 ABs)
  • 0.5 PR John Ryan Murphy, 0 RBIs in 20 ABs
  • 0.5 PR Jon Jay, 0 RBIs in 9 ABs
  • 0.0 PR players not listed

My conclusions:

  • Looking at D-back catchers, Mathis is a great pinch hitter, Avila is a poor pinch hitter, and Murphy should not be a pinch hitter.
  • Of the 3 non-catcher bench players, Descalso is the best pinch hitter, Walker ranks second, and Jay should not be a pinch hitter.
  • Of the potential September call-ups, Dyson is possibly a valuable pinch hitter. Given his speed, that may help the team.

*PR is equal to (hits/pinch-hit at-bat) divided by (hits per non-pinch-hit at-bat). Data from Baseball Reference.

Jim: Yeah, quite why Jeff Mathis was left in there to hit late on Friday night baffles me. Greinke was out of the game, so you don’t need the “personal catcher”, and you are presumably carrying FOUR catchers on the roster so you can pinch-hit for the weak-hitting ones and still have coverage. Didn’t happen. He also needs to stop being loyal to “his guys”. Over the course of a 162-game season, I can see the case for this, in terms of loyalty paying off. But this is now down to a 25-game sprint. Use the best players. Play match-ups. Who cares if a 3-2 game takes four hours to complete?

Edbigghead: Torey needs to set his personal feelings aside and set the batting order and bullpen up to win games and the division. Utilize PH more and think matchups when it comes to bullpen pitching.

Keegan: Mentioned above. Stop letting your starting catcher hit late in the game. Stop letting your starting catcher run the bases late in the game. Give Christian Walker a pinch hit appearance in every game. Free Jimmie Sherfy and Silvino Bracho.

Cumulus: Like almost everyone else has said, Torey needs to start utilizing pinch-hitters more. Jeff Mathis and Zack Greinke batting back-to-back after Ketel Marte got on base to start the 8th inning in Friday’s loss was and still is absolutely baffling to me. I’m not sure if Lovullo is still trying to keep players rested so that they’re available “down the stretch” or what, but his decisions have definitely impacted the outcomes of games in a negative way.

Jack: Torey needs to manage like there is no tomorrow. Because there isn’t. I mean, technically there is, obviously. However they need to get right up and win a few game straight right now, or they’re probably toast.

What players are key for the final month?

Makakilo: It’s a team effort - everyone is key! I will be watching Christian Walker, who hit a pinch hit homer on Saturday. I remember the D-backs averaging 5 runs per game - I’ll be watching for that offense to return! And the D-backs have amazing pitchers - both rotation and bullpen. I could attempt to wax elegant about a couple pitchers, but instead I will say the D-backs are fortunate to have pitchers who will make a difference in the final month.

Jim: We need to get A.J. Pollock back to his Player of the Month form. Today was his first hit since August 25, and he has gone 1-for-28 in that span. It’s be nice to get Bradley being effective again, but that ship has probably sailed. [O, ye relievers: volatility is indeed thy middle name…] The starting pitching has been ace, just keep that going, it’s all we can hope for. Hopefully, the Arizona hits will start to come for everyone with runners in scoring position, but there’s nothing much anyone can probably do about that. We need to play better than we have, that’s for sure. But the talent is there: we saw it in April and June. Fingers crossed we can play like that over the final four weeks. Failing that? Go, Rockies! :)

Edbigghead: Every single player on the 40 man will be key. What’s more key is how they are utilized by the coaching staff. If we want to name individual players I will go with #1 Paul Goldschmidt. As the leader of this team I would like to see him get vocal, maybe call out a few bad strike calls or even bad playing within his own team. We cannot allow Ahmed to be that guy. Also, Archie Bradley. If Torey is going to continue to insist that his gut and loyalty is rightfully placed then Bradley needs to kick in or get kicked out. Boxberger needs to snap out of candy land and pitch to his abilities. I feel like the two of them are Chad Qualls re-incarnate. Besides these two in the bullpen the OFFENSE NEEDS TO START DOING OFFENSE I SWEAR TO CROM! Acting like some of the pitchers they are facing are Nolan Ryan or Jesus himself. Read the scouting reports and swing at the strikes.

Keegan: A.J. Pollock and Ketel Marte at the plate. Offense is dead in the water without them. I’d also be tickled if we saw more of the Robbie Ray who showed up in Los Angeles.

Cumulus: The players getting consistent starts in the lineup need to show why it is they’re getting those starts. The offense has been absolutely putrid as of late, as has been outlined a billion-and-a-half times by now. A.J. Pollock has been awful, Daniel Descalso (before his ultimately pointless home run in today’s loss to the Dodgers) almost never puts up good AB’s anymore, Ketel Marte has been even more of a groundball machine than usual... the list goes on and on. If this team has any hope of making the playoffs, they’re going to need to start scoring more than two runs a game.

Jack: The best players need to play really well. Goldy, Pollock, and Peralta need to carry this team and GET HOT AT THE SAME TIME, and if they do, the others will play better too. They obviously are going to continue to have trouble holding leads, so they better get some bigger leads.

Random question: what song would you do for karaoke [at gunpoint if needed!]

Makakilo: I’d sing Young at Heart by Frank Sinatra…and when the audience wanted an encore (after I wiped off the tomatoes), Fly Me To the Moon by Frank Sinatra.

Jim: Depends on how drunk I was. Sober, something low-key like Birdhouse in Your Soul. If I had reached the “Go big or go home” stage of inebriation, Bohemian Rhapsody. There is a video of me and Mrs. SnakePit singing that one in Las Vegas. It’s not going to be released for public viewing anytime soon!

Edbigghead: Moody Blues - Nights in White Satin. I used to call my Mom and sing it to her.

Keegan: Thong Song - Sisqo

Cumulus: Piano Man by Billy Joel is definitely my top pick, followed closely by any song on the ‘Hamilton’ soundtrack. The farther out of my range the song is the better.

Jack: This old Taiwanese song that was popular with the gangsters back when I was living there. Got pressed into “mic duty” one time at this Karoke bar by some drunk guys with guns, (I think). They were all set to make fun of me and probably throw stuff, but I whipped out this classic song and belted it in Taiwanese at them, and they totally freaked out. Good times.

Jim: Hey, I wasn’t ACTUALLY expecting the “at gunpoint” thing to be a factor!