30 Diamondbacks took the mound this season, though I’m taking an executive decision to exclude Daniel Descalso, Alex Avila and Jeff Mathis from qualifying for this award. We do not want a whole ‘Boaty McBoatface’ situation here, thank you very much. Though I note sadly, all three of the position players to pitch for the D-backs in 2018 had a better ERA than Shelby Miller had over his sixteen innings of work... [And Kris Medlen too, though at least he had the wisdom to retire from the game] And Alex Avila had a better fielding-independent ERA than everyone bar Patrick Corbin and Andrew Chafin. But, still...No.
In some ways, the five candidates pick themselves: choose the five guys with the lowest ERAs to have thrown at least fifty innings last year. T.J. McFarland, Yoshihisa Hirano, Clay Buchholz, Corbin and Zack Greinke. Job done, thanks for coming, I’ll start writing up the poll post. But perhaps there could be cases made for some outside the top five. Andrew Chafin, for example, fell just two outs short of the 50 IP qualifier, while having a lower ERA than Corbin or Greinke, and as noted above, having one of the best FIPs on the team. That’s doubly impressive, given Chafin’s well-known struggles with putting the first batter faced aboard (14 BB + 2 HBP of 77 there, compared to 11 + 0 of 134 thereafter).
Other possible fringe candidates include Jimmie Sherfy, who now sports a regular-season career ERA of exactly one after 27 appearances. Or Yoan Lopez, whose K:BB ratio of 11:1 was among the best in franchise history [The Play Index at Baseball Reference is down at the time of writing so I’m going to have to remain kinda vague on that statement!] My immediate thought is that it’s unlikely any of these will move the needle particularly much, and we’re likely to go with the five initial candidates mentioned above. However, #ChangeMyMind. That’s what the comments section is for, as we seek to establish the nominees for this penultimate category.