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SnakePit Round Table: Moving on up...

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Mount .500 successfully submitted. Are higher peaks achievable?

Daily Life In Ladakh Photo by Creative Touch Imaging Ltd./NurPhoto via Getty Images

Should Madison Bumgarner’s outing in Atlanta be considered a no-hitter?

Isaiah: As much as I’d like to, I’m going with no. I simply can’t wrap my mind around seven innings being a no-hitter, even if it was the destined length of the game. Call it what you will.

James: I think so, even if they have to come up with a new classification, maybe calling it ano-7 or something. The reality is, he pitched the complete game and allowed no runs on no hits. There was never the opportunity for a player to do more.

Dano: I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, no, because traditionally MLB games have been nine innings, so that’s the standard, and Bumgarner’s outing, as impressive as it was, was two innings shorter than that. On the other hand, this is an unforeseen consequence of MLB rule “innovations” that must now be addressed. I agree with James that a new classification should be created, if nothing else.

It also seems kind of questionable that a no-hitter doesn’t count as a no-hitter when the game is, by rule, only seven innings long, but those games still count as full wins for the team that prevails. Perhaps each win in a league-mandated seven-inning game should only be worth .778 of a win? And likewise, a game that goes 18 innings, should be worth two wins for the victor?

Makakilo: Instead of a no-hitter, a new label should be coined. James suggested no-7. I can’t find it now, but someone else suggested a no-Bum.

Jack: It was a great game, but no matter what they call it I’ll always consider it inferior to a 9 inning no hitter. Torey is lucky it was only a 7 inning game. Madbum was at 98 pitches. Best case scenario he throws 115-20 pitches, finishing the last two innings in just 17-22 pitches and gets a real no hitter. You know the last time he topped 115 pitches ? July 10th, 2016 when he took a no hitter into the 8th against…...the Arizona Diamondbacks. Jake Lamb broke it up with one out in the 8th with a base hit. He ended up throwing 117 pitches, (got the shutout and struck out 14). So it’s been 5 years since he threw that many pitches in a game. What would Torey have done if Madbum remained hit less through 8 but needed 15 pitches to get there ? Send him out to the mound for the 9th with 113 pitches in the ledger ? Trying to get the no hitter might have ruined his season.

ISH95: I’m not much of a stats guy but I think there is a pretty good statistical argument for it

60/162=0.37

7/9=0.77

Turambar: It was a no-no. I wrote in my Beercap that day that it was a no-no. Thus it shall always be a no-no.

DBacksEurope: First of all, Bumgarner pitched terrific and I can agree with him that he would have probably thrown a 9 innings no-hitter: the team was up by a lot of runs, the Braves were probably not believing in a comeback, Bumgarner was in a groove...despite the high pitch count, I can perfectly imagine Bumgarner ends up throwing 120 pitches and completely shuts out the Braves in 9 innings. On a personal note, I don’t really care that much. A perfect game is a better achievement and I never remember a no-hitter unless MLB.tv shows one between the innings. So, why don’t we just give Bumgarner that no-hitter? I don’t understand the problem. Make the game more cheerful and let the pitcher and the fans celebrate this. MLB wants the game to be loved more, well, then don’t make a discussion of this but market it. It isn’t Bumgarner’s fault that the 7 inning doubleheaders were created.

Steven: Fangraphs had a nice little piece about the merits of counting it as a no-no, and along with Bumgarner’s post game remarks about it, I have no problems counting it as one. The rules are the rules, don’t punish a player for playing the game in the current climate.

The team starts 20 games in 20 days tomorrow. What will be the challenges?

Isaiah: How much pitching depth does the club have? That challenge may arrive over the next 20 days, and it could be a tough stretch. There’s been several surprising performers, but keeping that sustainably can be a challenge.

James: I see two challenges rising to the top. The first is the team’s quality pitching depth. They are going to need at least a handful of quality starts in those 20 games. If they don’t get that, the bullpen, already a team weakness, if going to just get murdered. They can only pitch so many innings in so many days. I expect there to be more than a couple of bullpen promotions and demotions to try and help keep fresh arms available. The second issue I see is that the 20-game stretch ends with the team’s first four games against the Dodgers and then three in Colorado. The team is going to have to find a way to conserve something for those seven games. It will be entirely too easy to roll into Chavez Ravine or Denver and just get blown out from a combination of fatigue and talent imbalance. The Diamondbacks really need to make hay in the games leading up to those two series.

Makakilo: Three challenges:

  • Don’t lose focus or intensity; the Diamondbacks need to play for sweeps of the Marlins and Rockies, the two weakest teams in the next 20 games.
  • The starting pitching will be the most stressed. The loss of the off days for the team will be a challenge.
  • Four games against the Dodgers, who will be hungry or desperate for wins. Nevertheless, if an opportunity happens, the Diamondbacks need to win that game.

Dano: Mainly pitching, especially the bullpen. One of the reasons our bargain basement relievers and closers of the last few years have had their arms fall off in August or September is that we went through an early stretch that featured serious bullpen overuse, so basically the entire bullpen was toast by the last month or so of the season. Given that both our bargain basement bullpen acquisitions for 2021, Clippard and Soria have been on the IL pretty much since the season started, maybe that will help their durability as we get toward September, but frankly I don’t take much comfort in that. As for the starting rotation, our depth isn’t so great there either, so that too will be fun.

As for our position players, the fact that we’ve already had so many key players take trips to the IL is demoralizing, and 20 games in 20 days is putting the burden of keeping the team going on a lot of players who didn’t have any expectation, and don’t necessarily have the conditioning yet, to be the everyday players they are presently required to be. I worry about an ongoing cascade of injuries to position players also.

Jack: As mentioned by most others, pitching will be a big challenge most likely. I think they could end up using the Taxi Squad liberally. But ultimately, 13 of the 20 are on the road, and that includes 4 in LA and 3 in Colorado at the end of that stretch. They’re already going to be frayed by the time they get to LA. If they finish this stretch with an above .500 record then I’ll be turned into a true believer.

Turambar: Pitching. Without a doubt. Our pitchers have held up their end of the bargain better than I imagined after how things started out in the first week. So with that in mind this stretch will be test of our depth there for sure.

DBacksEurope: I think that as long as they can keep their streak going, all goes well. A team that is happy and clicks, is capable of outperforming itself, we have seen this so far. If players are happy, I am confident that injuries will be limited. We also have some depth in the minors, which is good to see. Therefore, I am not overly concerned about our batters, and Torey Lovullo has been making a lot of changes in the daily lineups to keep everyone fresh and adapt the lineup to the opposing pitchers. Logically, I am concerned about pitching like everyone else. If our starters fail to go deep, our bullpen will get stressed. I think we will see some pitchers being moved up and down. We have Buchter, Mantiply, Mella, Lopez, Aguilar, Frankoff, Duplantier, maybe Green, Castellanos...all in the minors and I can imagine some of them might get a call up if some air is needed in the bullpen. We might also see Soria back. Obviously, they are not high quality pitchers, so you hope to see them as less as possible.

Steven: Reintegrating all these players to a winning group. Sure, they’ve probably been with the team during this nice little streak, but there’ll be a little divide as some of the main guys take backseats to guys who have done little to turning the season around. Best thing they can do is perform well right out of the blocks and keep it going.

Can the D-backs offense keep scoring?

Isaiah: Not at the explosive rate of 14-plus runs, but most definitely. This team can hit, and it has slowly worked its way down the order. Pavin Smith and Josh Rojas have filled a major void that was missed last year. Once Ketel Marte and Kole Calhoun return, it’s even more promising. They just need to stay healthy, which is easier said than done.

James: There is going to be some regression from this group. The hope is that it doesn’t hit too hard before Locastro, Walker, and Marte return. If they can hold on until then, the return of those three should help offset some of that regression. I do not expect the team to continue scoring as well as they have been lately, but a healthy Eduardo Escobar and a tweaked Carson Kelly has added length to the lineup that should be for real the rest of the season.

Makakilo: The short answer is, Yes!”

The Diamondbacks have scored 5 runs or more in 13 consecutive games, with two exceptions (4 runs on 23 April and 3 runs on 28 April). Consistently reaching 5 runs is powerful; in their first 28 games, only 1 win happened with less than 5 runs.

“That kind of consistent offense makes it [Dbacks above 500] possible.”— 26 April roundtable.

Although it hurts that Kole Calhoun will be on the IL for maybe as long as 7 more weeks, in the 5 games after his injury, the Dbacks averaged 5.8 runs per game! And with the imminent return of Ketel Marte, Tim Locastro, and Christian Walker, consistently reaching 5 runs per game is realistic.

Dano: Provided they can stay healthy, and as others note, provided that TLo, Marte and Walker return in relatively short order, they will counterbalance some of the inevitable regression from the current group that James mentions.

Also, I gotta say, this protracted offensive outburst that we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks feels a bit different to me, on a gut level, than the bursts of streaky play that we’ve seen from time to time over the last several years. I think this might actually be more long-lasting.

Jack: Ironically I’m a little concerned that “layering” back in the injured players starting with Walker and Locastro, and a little later Marte, could slow down the offense. It’s likely those guys will need a little time to get their game timing down. As for regression, well the expected stats suggest there is regression on the horizon, but that’s not a given of course. But all that said, the way Torey is utilizing platoons and matchups, and the disciplined approach the hitters have been executing leads one to start being confident they can end up as a league average offense and maybe a little above.

Turambar: I think so. This team seems to have a bit of a swagger to them when it comes to the bats and while I agree the reintroduction of our injured players might slow things a bit I think this squad will continue to impress at the plate.

DBacksEurope: They certainly can. The team is hitting a combined 102 OPS+ (110 OPS+ if we look at non-pitcher totals), which isn’t out of the extraordinary, and we are 5th in the NL if we look at batting average. Except for Carson Kelly, no one is really batting that much better than they normally would, so I am convinced they can continue to keep on hitting well and they have shown their patience at the plate: a big improvement from last year. I mean, we all agreed that last year they were terribly underperforming, right? The only question is if our opponents are underperforming or performing according to their capabilities. My guess is that most of them are underperforming which would explain why the D-Backs are in the top of the NL.

Steven: Since the loss that put them at 5-10 on the year, 10 players have a wRC+ over 125. It’s extremely unlikely that this streak will continue. On the flip side, only 6 pitchers have an ERA under 4. I hate to be a downer but I’m not expecting this good play to continue, but hey, you face a lot of teams right around the same level of play as the D-backs so who knows? Take your best shot and lean on everyone.

Do you think Arizona’s defense is good, bad or mediocre?

Isaiah: I’ll go with mediocre based upon the team’s performance. Arizona is 21st in DPS and 15th in double plays. It hasn’t always been pretty, but they’ve been middle-of-the-road thus far.

James: That depends on which unit is being fielded. Pavin Smith in CF with Josh Rojas at SS, Stephen VOgt at C, and Asdrubal Cabrera manning third is a defensively questionable team. That doesn’t even address whatever is going on in RF in the absence of Calhoun. A team with Locastro in CF, Calhoun in RF, Kelly behind the plate, with Marte and Ahmed on the middle infield is a solid, above average defense. This team is going to be spending a large part of this season juggling personnel to get the best mix of offense and defense possible. The returns of Locastro and Marte should help stabilize things some, but the reality is, they have little defensive depth on this team.

Dano: I agree with both Isaiah and James here. Based on current performance, they’re kinda “meh.” With the proper players in the proper positions on the field, we can be much better than we have been.

Jack: 10 of their +18 rDRS have come via the shift and non shift positioning. The other 8 have come from player performance above average. And +5 of that is from Asdrubal Cabrera. Torey has sacrificed defense at times to get more offense in the lineup. Clearly he believes the shifts and positioning can make up for some of the shortfalls. And of course the trends of fewer balls in play makes defense less important. My biggest concerns are Escobar and Ahmed because they need those guys to be not just good, but excellent. Escobar has been shaky and Ahmed looks like he’s lost a step. That may be due to injury, age, or the combination. Either way while he’s still good, he seems past his defensive peak.

Turambar: Honestly due to some TV issues at the home I’ve not gotten a chance to really study our defensive side of the game. Considering the game of musical chairs our position players have endured thanks to injuries I don’t know if we’ve seen that cohesive day to day squad yet to even begin to answer that question. Overall I feel like they’ve been competent with their D thus far, but I wouldn’t say much more than that.

Makakilo: The Diamondback defense is outstanding! In games through 2 May, The Fielding Bible showed the Diamondbacks and Brewers each with 16 DRS, tied for second/third best in the Majors. (The Nats are best with 19 DRS, when last season they ranked 30th with negative 48.)

  • Third base and right field each were +4 DRS.
  • Catcher and first base each were +3 DRS.
  • Surprisingly, shortstop was 0 DRS.

DBacksEurope: I’d say mediocre. Ahmed seems to have frequent errors, just like Escobar, as Jack has pointed out. If I look at Tatis I know it can be worse, so that prevents me from saying we are bad, but the defence doesn’t inspire much confidence. On the other hand, the pitching has been that bad, that defensive errors probably haven’t been that much of a concern.

Steven: I think you have shades of both sides. Carson Kelly and most of the other starters have been above-average, with some surprises like Pavin Smith in the OF and Asdrubal Cabrera at 3rd. On the flip side, Ahmed is dealing with the after effects of the knee injury on both sides of the field, while both Rojas and VanMeter look lost in the field. I think it’ll stabilize with better pitching going forward.

What are your thoughts on Kristian Robinson’s issues?

Isaiah: I really appreciate how the organization is standing by his side. This is a sensitive situation to say the least. He’s just 20 years old with all the talent in the world, but that may never come to fruition if mental health struggles continue. Kudos to the Diamondbacks for sticking with him and finding him help through this.

James: He was clearly in a state of mental health crisis. This is incredibly unfortunate. I know nothing about his situation, other than the fact that there was a police incident involved complicates matters. Hopefully, Robinson is able to receive the help he needs and then he and the team can put this unfortunate incident behind them. At this point, his return to the team (whenever that can be facilitated) is of secondary, or even lower importance.

Dano: I didn’t know anything about this until I read the article that the question links to, and all I can say is that I’m sad for the guy, and I hope he’s getting the help he needs. I remember how scared and upset I was as it started to dawn on me just how bad covid was likely to be, and how isolated I felt when I realized it was gonna be a long, long time before I would be able to safely visit face-to-face with...well, anyone, really. The kid was 19, he thought his dream career was just about to take off, and then suddenly it was on hold. I’m glad the cops stopped him from walking out onto the freeway, and sad that he punched a cop in the face. I also applaud the Diamondbacks for sticking with him and trying to help him get back to a place where he gets his mental health issues under control and can, with luck, get back to pursuing his dream of being a professional baseball player.

Jack: I know nothing of what he’s going through other than what we’ve all read. I wish him speedy and full recovery. Hopefully the team continues their support. There are other players who have gone through these types of issues and overcome. I hope Kristian can do the same.

Makakilo: Based on what he said in the last few years, he has extremely high expectations of himself on the field (an imperfect perfectionist), for his country (impact baseball in the Bahamas), and for his family (well rounded with several types of relationships). That could be problematic for two reasons:

  • Baseball greatness normally requires all-consuming focus making well rounded unlikely or even impossible.
  • Relationships are full of ups and downs, and navigating them well takes a lifetime of experience (or even longer in some cases).

DBacksEurope: yeah, this can become a big problem for Robinson. The story is really weird; like he was walking on the Interstate (why would you do that?) and a police officer put him in a car (I understand that this happened to help him) and he punched him in the face? I mean, that is a really crazy story. I don’t understand. His behaviour does not make any sense at all. So, that tells me that mentally he is not able to handle whatever situation he is in (COVID, away from your family, pressure to perform, ...?). I think it might jeopardize his future as a major league player and a potential star and his visa problems related to this incident surely do not make this whole situation any better. But Kristian should know that neither the D-Backs organization nor the Bahamas, and I hope his family neither, will depend on him becoming a major leaguer and a star. If he realizes that, he might find peace and an untroubled mind performs best. But I don’t have my hopes high. Maybe he can talk to Jazz Chisholm. I guess he was in a similar situation last year, but seems to have a good mind set. Both are from the Bahamas, both know the D-Backs organization, both are in the early 20s and it is always nice to have contact with people from your country who are in a similar situation as you.

Steven: It just goes to show that no one is free from succumbing to mental health issues and this country needs to put a better emphasis on treating it.

You’ve been kidnapped. 30 mins later your kidnapper dumps you on the street because you won’t stop doing or talking about… what?

Isaiah: Who will the Diamondbacks draft at No. 6 overall in 2021? If Henry Davis is on the board, is he too good to pass up? He’s been tearing the cover off the ball and has an absolute cannon of an arm behind the dish. Maybe they go with one of the top college arms like Gunnar Hoglund or Ty Madden? Maybe they grab a potential prep bat in Brady House or Kahlil Watson? Or do they go with a toolsy outfield prospect like Sal Frelick? The options are endless, I could talk about this year’s draft class for hours on end. It will annoy anyone to tears.

James: I would probably go completely off the deep-end and just lean into the absurdity of the situation. As a Tolkien scholar, it would not be much of a stretch for me to fall into renditions of “They’re Taking the Hobbits to Isengard”, just so I have something to relate to. Maybe I can role-play being one of the hobbits.

Makakilo: The short answer is my baseball writing….

...The series preview for the Marlins will be different – either extraordinary or not-quite-ordinary depending on your viewpoint…. Tuesday’s article will include several approaches to the question which is better - Diamondbacks starters or relievers. … Next Tuesday’s article will explore three statistical views (that are freely available to fans on the internet) that numerically measure how well a Diamondback starter pitched each specific game….

…and I have more ideas for unique and colorful bar charts, line graphs, and 3-D space charts that could show insights and anomalies to complement the great baseball insights that Jack Sommers brings to our attention daily with his awesome collection of tables …and let’s talk about some of Jack’s tables…

Dano: I imagine it being one of three things, or perhaps some combination of all three:

  1. Blathering on at length about process issues in congressional politics, like how earmarks are actually good and the filibuster is truly an abomination, and….well, you get the picture.
  2. Embarking upon a lengthy discussion (read monologue) about how, while Ezra Pound was undeniably a nutball and an asshat, I don’t think he was really a fascist so much as he was a libertarian autodidact who was offended by the notion that real-world economic problems were not responsive to simple solutions, and he was desperately poor for most of his life, so he joined up with Mussolini in large measure because the dude gave him a job, and….well, you get the picture.
  3. Constantly demanding that, if I was going to be abducted and shoved into a car, I damn well should be allowed to smoke in the back seat.

Jack: Going on and on about my Grandkids, my Garden, & xwOBA, all replete with photos, videos, and of course tables would surely earn me my release.

ISH95: Id just 100% be that news story about the guy who got stabbed after saying “what are you gonna do? Stab me??”

Turambar: Speaking (in great detail) about the events of the Horus Heresy where the Emperor’s plan to unite mankind across the stars in His grand vision of a true galactic empire was laid to waste thanks to the treachery of his closest son Horus.

DBacksEurope: normally I’d say because he also kidnapped my father in law, who would have started one of his usual philosophical monologues on whatever what, but that probably isn’t the case because it took the kidnapper 30 minutes to kick me out instead of the 10 minutes you’d need to get annoyed by my father in law (lol). If I were kidnapped in the USA, I’d start talking about soccer. I could talk for hours about that. He would probably kick me out once I start explaining him the offside rule. If I were kidnapped in Europe I’d talk about baseball. I think the 30 minute mark is when, after having explained the NL baseball rules, I start explaining the difference between the National League and American League and how it influences tactics. I probably haven’t even touched the subject of statistics at that moment.