It has only been a week since the last update, but it has been a somewhat significant one. In that the team has played six games, going 3-3 in that stretch. The three losses came thanks to horrific pitching performances. The three wins came thanks to some great one. One thing that is starting to truly stand out about this team is that it is winning based on pitching and defense. In the weekly power rankings, the team has dropped from 5th to 10th.
The offense is very mediocre thus far. It is 9th in runs scored and OPS. It is 12th in OBP and 10th in wOBA. Despite Dave McKay, the team is 13th in base running with +2.5 base running wins. His .658 OPS simply is not going to cut it.
Identifying the offense’s problem areas is not difficult. Ketel Marte continues to struggle, though he is starting to show some signs of life. Kole Calhoun, despite playing solid defense, is not bringing enough stick to the game for a right fielder if he wants to make a positive impact. Unfortunately, the team is stuck riding out Calhoun’s performance until they can get beyond the third hurdle causing the offense grief - Starling Marte’s injury. Marte is expected to be out for one or two more weeks. He has missed enough time that it is safe to say that there will be a few rehab games as well before he can return to the 26-man roster. Plugging Marte back into center will help boost production from that position, as almost anyone hits as well or better than Tim Locastro. That will also free up the bench a bit, making it possible to put Josh Rojas into a few more games in right should Calhoun continue to struggle. (I may have to send Virtual Lovullo a mandatory directive to make that happen).
On the plus side for the offense, Christian Walker is starting to heat up after getting off to a brutally slow start. Carson Kelly also continues to show that he is an all-star caliber backstop.
Finally, and this is the big one:
David Peralta Named NL Player of the Week
David Peralta is making it easy for me to address Virtual Ken Kendrick’s directive to improve the team’s left field performance. He is also helping to carry the team to a better than .500 record, another of Virtual Kendrick’s directives. I have some bad news for Virtual Kendrick on the third directive though. I still see no reason to extend Jake Lamb.
If Peralta can continue something close to this level of performance, a return of Starling Marte and improvement by Ketel Marte could quickly turn this offense around. At the very least, it would make the lineup somewhat deeper, putting tough outs in slots 1-6.
Arizona’s pitching continues to lead the way. The Diamondbacks rank among MLB’s leaders in most pitching categories. Archie Bradley is having a spectacular season through the first six weeks. Alas, this is still a team that is defined by an ‘A’ and a ‘B’ bullpen. There is very real reason to be concerned about the workload of the ‘A’ bullpen. Unfortunately, this bullpen suffers from the same tough constraint of the last few years; the lack of option years in the bullpen. Only four of the eight pitchers in the bullpen have options; Archie Bradley, Kevin Ginkel, Yoan López, and Alex Young. Of those, only Young is a member of the ‘B’ group, though he is still getting plenty of opportunity to pitch.
The worrisome arms in the bullpen belong to the two veterans that were brought in, Héctor Rondón and Junior Guerra. Currently, there is no pressing reason to make a move. However, if Jimmie Sherfy continues to dominate the minors the way he has been, trading away one of those two veterans may become a very real scenario. In addition to Sherfy, Joel Payamps, Taylor Clarke, and Matt Peacock are all having strong season as well. Come late-July, if the ‘A’ bullpen is becoming fatigued, some sort of moves will need to be made.
As far as starting pitching is concerned, the real team leaders are Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver. Both are establishing themselves as the leaders of the rotation moving forward. Robbie Ray continues to perform his high wire act, walking entirely too many batters, then striking out the opposition just in time to prevent a scoring threat from coming home. His 12.2 K/9 has other teams interested in him as a trade target. However, he is still a league average pitcher and is part of what is currently a successful rotation. So long as he can maintain his current performance, he probably is not going anywhere, especially given that Jon Duplantier and Josh Green are not having great seasons in Reno. Although, Taylor Widener has started dominating again, so there is still a possibility that the team might have some starting pitching depth. The other issue is that, the team simply has very little money to work with. It is difficult to see the team upgrading on Ray without significant financial flexibility.
No, Ray is likely to stay put, for better or worse. On the other hand, if Mike Leake falters too many times, he could be a candidate to be moved out of the rotation. Finding an improvement on Leake might be within the team’s budget.
The next off day comes on May 18th. Between now and then, the Diamondbacks will play seven games against the defending champion, Washington Nationals. Given the team’s current record and position in the NL West, this is going to be a big two week stretch for the Diamondbacks.