I know our starting lineup has been decimated by injuries, and that our starting rotation has as well, while our bullpen has been decimated partly by the problems with our starters staying healthy, but more by the front office’s chronic and ongoing underinvestment in staffing it properly. Still, I was very excited to see Corbin Martin’s first MLB start (and third start at any level) since his Tommy John surgery back in 2019. He was the blue-chip get in the Zack Greinke trade with the Houston
Cheaters Astros that year.
It didn’t start off all that well, with the top of the Diamondbacks order being mowed down on 12 pitches by Dodgers starter Julio Arias, followed by Dodgers CF Mookie Betts launching Martin’s second pitch of the game just over the wall in pretty much straightaway center for a solo home run. To his credit, though, Martin refused to be rattled, and sat down the next three Dodgers he faced on two swinging strikeouts and a grounder to second. 1-0 Los Angeles
The offense promptly picked Martin up, though, in the top of the second. After the briefly wild Urias hit second baseman Andrew Young in the knee to give us a one-out baserunner, David Peralta struck out and then Nick Ahmed did something very good at the plate, hitting a two-strike gapper to the wall in left center. It was an easy double, and Young scored easily from first.
Nick Ahmed comes through! pic.twitter.com/RW3A05aUsU— Bally Sports Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) May 19, 2021
Daulton Varsho then struck out on three pitches—he did not have a good night at the plate tonight—but at least we’d gotten the run back. 1-1 TIE
Meanwhile, Martin seemed to settle in, though Los Angeles was beginning to hang some seriously long at bats on him. He’d gotten through the first inning with 16 pitches thrown, and while no more runs crossed the plate in the next three frames, his pitch count was already at 81 pitches by the end of the fourth. He’d also surrendered four walks, but for a kid on a mound for the first time since his arm fell off, and against a very tough and lefty-stacked Dodgers lineup, it was definitely not too shabby. It was pretty damned impressive, in fact.
Urias, meanwhile, had recovered from his brief bout of wildness in the second, and resumed mowing down the Diamondbacks, setting our boys down in order in both the third and the fourth. And the fifth and the sixth, as well, but I’m getting ahead of myself a little.
Pretty much the entire Gameday Thread assumed that Martin wouldn’t come out for the bottom of the fifth, given the pitch count and that his two starts at Reno this year had both lasted around 85 pitches. Torey Lovullo sent him out, though, for whatever reason, and he induced Betts to foul out to Pavin Smith at first before surrendering a Max Muncy single to left center and then an absolute bomb that Dodgers third baseman Chris Tayor launched wayyyyyyyyy over the fence in right. Martin again managed to keep his composure though, and got through five full innings with a popup to Smith and a swinging K to end his start. Not ideal, but given where the kid had been in recent years, and given that the Dodgers lineup is terrifying, it was a pretty damn good first outing. 3-1 Los Angeles
And now I’m going to avoid discussing the rest of the game for a bit, because doing so will make me much happier than writing about it will. My impressions of Martin were this:
- He definitely seems to have some control issues, as Jim and Jack mentioned in the game preview. Or maybe it was James in his player profile. Possibly both. Duly noted.
- As Jim and Jack also mentioned and/or possibly James, again, Martin also seems to have some issues regarding a reliable out pitch, as demonstrated by the number of walks he gave up, and the number of long ABs the Dodgers hung on him, even when he started off ahead (8 of the 23 batters he faced ran up at least five pitches, with five of those seeing 7 or more pitches).
- He showed a hell of a lot of poise, especially after the two dingers, and that was really good to see.
- He suffered a bit (perhaps a lot) against a Los Angeles lineup that has a lot of plate discipline. The opposing batters simply weren’t swinging at his pitches off the plate. I don’t get the sense Martin is a pitch-to-contact pitcher, and his control (possibly due in part to nerves) wasn’t there yet, though it seems like it will get there in time. A less patient opposing lineup, I think, will have a much harder time with him. Also, if and when his control gets better, he’s gonna get a lot more swings and misses. I hope I’m not jinxing him by typing this, I think we’ve got a live one here.
And so, yeah, now, back to the recap, and the rest of the game. As mentioned, the Diamondbacks sat down in order in both the fifth and the sixth, Alex Young pitched the bottom of the sixth and put up a zero, which was nice, though he had to pitch around two two-out hits from the bottom of the Dodgers’ order. Eduardo Escobar, manning third base again, led off the seventh with a doink single to left off of Urias, followed two outs later by a David Peralta single to shallow left that advanced Escobar to second. Somewhat surprisingly, that earned Urias the hook, which seemed like a net positive. Ahmed couldn’t repeat his second-inning heroics, though, stranding them both with a flyout to right.
Kevin Ginkel then came out to pitch the bottom of the seventh, and, well, the Ginkeling ensued, and it was a Ginkeling much more spectular than the previous Ginkelings have been, I think. Three straight batters reached to start the inning, then a HBP forced in a run, and then Gavin Lux and his apparently tight pants (???!) sent a two-out grand slam into the right field corner. Torey left Ginkel out there, because I guess why not, and Ginkel did manage to strike out some random pitch hitter to end the pain. But still, this is now the new Webster’s definition of a Ginkeling. 8-1 Los Angeles
Offense did nothing in the top of the eighth, and Yoan Lopez came on for the bottom of the inning. I’d stopped updating my scoresheet by this point, because there seemed to be no real point anymore. Predictably, Lopez surrendered another meaningless run, like he does. I honestly have no idea how it actually happened, aside from Lopez being Lopez. If you need to know the details, go to the MLB.com box score, and click on “Plays.” I myself am not going to do so. I had to watch this entire thing. You didn’t. 9-1 Los Angeles
Top of the ninth, crazy 8-run rally, maybe? Nope. Just nope. LoCastro, Escobar, and Rojas sat down in order against some random guy who lives at the bottom of the Dodgers bullpen. Game over.
And now I’m going to ignore the implicit Mad Max prompt from the top of Jim’s GDT post, and get on with a little bit more Ginkel bitterness. Sorry, Kevin. I’m sure you’re a very nice person, and probably don’t deserve this, but I’m a bad, bad man sometimes, and here we are.
Win Probability Added, courtesy of Fangraphs
Sadly Ineffectual Anti-Ginkel: Eduardo Escobar (+2.4 WPA*)
Doing His Best Not to Ginkel: Corbin Martin (5 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 3 ER, 2 HR, 6K, -14.3% WPA)
Ginkel Enablers: The Offense as a Whole (-28.3% WPA)
The Ginkeler-in-Chief: Kevin Ginkel, predictably (1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 ER, 1 GS, 1K, a surprisingly low -8.5% WPA)
- Fun Fact: EE was the only Diamondback position player to rate a positive WPA contribution tonight. Also, yay bullet points!
Okay, maybe that was too mean. Feel free to scold me in the comments. Anyway.
Given how grim (and blissfully quick) the game was, we had a remarkably robust and lively Gameday Thread, which frankly was what made it bearable, so my heartfelt thanks to all of you who stuck around. After a certain point we wound up making our own fun, hiving off into lengthy discussions of Yacht Rock, an impromptu and surprisingly lengthy tutorial on appropriate use of the sarcasm font, and the relative merits of aggressive self-medication when Ginkel takes the mound.
We wound up with 348 comments by 19 commenters, a shocking number for such a grim game late on a Tuesday night. Oldenschoole and Smurf1000 led the way with 51 and 49 comments respectively. All present and accounted for were: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, Dano_in_Tucson, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, James Attwood, Jim McLennan, Keegan Thompson, Makakilo, Michael McDermott, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Preston Salisbury, Smurf1000, Snake_Bitten, Ubersnake, kilnborn, therealramona
And by editorial fiat, I have decided that we need two Comments of the Game. The first one, courtesy of James, summed up my feelings about Martin’s start pretty perfectly, and you all were gracious and sensible enough to turn it Sedona Red:
James is speaking the stone cold truth, there. If you missed this one, seriously, do your best to catch Corbin Martin’s next start.
Another comment turned the same shade, this one supplied by kilnborn, managed to capture the lovely gallows humor that the Ginkeling in particular provoked. It is also utterly great, and captures the quality of the experience exquisitely.
And so there’s another game against the Dodgers tomorrow, joy of joys. Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for LA, facing off against...well, who the hell knows? Maybe Merrill Kelly, who is apparently not on the IL right now? Or maybe the beloved lemonade guy from Chase Field? Or maybe Wyatt Mathisen of the spotless ERA? Oh, no, Wyatt was sold to Tampa the other day for cash considerations. Never mind. So, who knows. It’ll be starter surprise! Yay! First pitch is 7:10 AZ time, just like today. If you’ve got the intestinal fortitude, I hope you can join us.
As always, thanks for reading, and as always, go D-Backs!