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SnakePit Round Table: Where have the runs gone?

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MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Mets Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

No, really: Where have the runs gone?

ISH95: They thought the poultry sacrifice was a one of thing and the voodoo powers wore off… The runs will be back in a couple weeks, and we’ll deal with this boom/bust cycle for the rest of the summer

Jack: They far exceeded expectations for a while. It was nice. Keeping in mind that xwOBA is 20 points higher than wOBA league wide, .328 vs. .308, and needs to be adjusted downward 20 points to get an actual comparison to wOBA, you can see the D-backs have been the luckiest team in MLB in terms of outperforming xwOBA. LINK HERE . So this was bound to happen. They need Ketel Marte back and hitting effectively and Christian Walker needs to start hitting with authority as well. Those two things would help lengthen the lineup and create some consistency.

Makakilo: The cause was lack of homers. Details follow:

Snapshots show that hits with RISP remained at an improved level.

  • 18 April .178 (24 of 135)
  • 26 April .214 (42 of 196)
  • 9 May .214 (59 of 276)

The pace of homers fell compared to the leading teams.

  • “Standing in the race for most homers in the Majors. It increased from tied for third place to stand-alone second place. They are 3 homers ahead of third place, one homer behind first place Reds.” — Makakilo, 26 April
  • “The Diamondbacks’ 40 homers ranks in a tie for 13th -17th in the Majors. They are 7 homers out of first place.” — Makakilo, 9 May

James: Regression to the mean is a real downer - especially when the team is simply outpacing the field. Unfortunately, the team does not have enough players hitting the ball with real authority, meaning that they have to rely on stringing hits together. Stringing hits together has never been harder in this game. The team’s abysmal batting of something like 3-for-44 with RISP (or something close) just highlights how difficult it is to score. It requires not only getting hits, but getting hits at the right time. This team needs Walker to step up and for Marte to get healthy. Beyond that, it needs to get better at situational ball.

Rank our rotation in order of concern (most = #1!)

ISH95:

  1. Luke Weaver
  2. Luke Weaver
  3. Luke Weaver
  4. Luke Weaver
  5. Everyone else not named Gallen

Jack:

Luke Weaver: Clearly the number one concern. He will be the unanimous choice I’m sure.

Zac Gallen: Having him ranked 2nd most concerning is a reflection of my lofty hopes and expectations. I’m probably being greedy. He’s very good. But the walks are keeping him from being elite or great. When he’s mixing all his pitches and throwing them for strikes he’s as effective as anyone. Nonetheless his career 10.1% Walk Rate is 16% higher than league average 8.7%. And he needs to be better than league average in this category to become elite. So far this year his walk rate has gone in the other direction, ballooning to 12.2%. That MUST improve or it will bite him. I believe it will, but I’m still concerned.

Riley Smith: He is a short term solution in the 5th spot in the rotation.

Merrill Kelly: I’m not concerned because he is what he is. A league average innings eater. That’s what they’re paying him for and that’s what they expect. He’s second on the team with 5.5 IP per start. Last year he led the team with 6.3 IP/GS. He’ll have his good days and bad days. He won’t always look pretty doing it, but that’s ok.

Madison Bumgarner: Again measuring against expectations, (mine, not the team’s because I’m not paying him) , he is the least of my concerns at the moment. I had already resigned myself to accepting his demise. So anything that is better than that is a win in my book.

Makakilo: An article scheduled to post Tuesday looks at game scores of the Diamondback starters to answer the question, “Have the starters pitched above average?” Jim’s question is different. Having said that my concern for Weaver/Kelly/Smith is about equal, let’s look further.

  • Luke Weaver. He is a small adjustment away from pitching an average to good season. Will he find that adjustment before he hits his innings limit for the season?
  • Merrill Kelly. Merrill Kelly has the lowest season average game score of the Diamondback starters (2 start minimum). After his first three starts, all his average game scores have been within a half point of 50 (average) with one exception, an excellent 63.8 average game score.
  • Riley Smith. His game scores were near average, which meets or exceeds my expectations for a pitcher’s first three starts in the Majors.
  • Taylor Widener. What could easily be overlooked is his consistency (two excellent starts and two below average, but not bad starts). I’m confident he will return from his injury at 100%.
  • Madison Bumgarner. After his first 3 starts, every start has been excellent, and 25 April was outstanding (highest game score of the season for the Diamondbacks)!
  • Zac Gallen. Zero concern.

James: Luke Weaver is my biggest concern in the rotation. It’s about time to cut bait and stick him in the bullpen. The team has other options that could step in for a while. The recent trip to the IL for Merrill Kelly may have delayed that moment, but it seems the time has arrived. Right behind Weaver, I still have worries about Kelly. I’m still willing to give him another two or three starts to see how things go. The better he performs in those, the more rope I give him.

Is Madison Bumgarner fixed?

ISH95: Depends on how you define fixed. He still won’t live up to that contract, but I don’t think we’re going to be breaking out the pitch forks any time soon.

Jack: Over his last 4 starts, 23 IP he’s walked just 2 and struck out 25. It’s an incredible turnaround in his stuff and execution. If he keeps doing this he’s going to be just fine. But as we’ve seen his margin for error is very thin. Maintaining this level of command and control of his stuff is absolutely vital to future success

Makakilo: Yes. To see how his game scores improved please read my article scheduled to post Tuesday.

James: The jury is still out on that one for me. I do think that he is looking more comfortable out there, but I am still concerned about how long he can continue to avoid hard contact with having to fill the zone more. Ask me again after the draft.

Wade Miley pitched a no-hitter. What are your memories of him as a D-back?

ISH95: I… don’t. I remember on the team, but honesty I have zero memories of him doing anything.

Jack: I always liked how fast he worked. He was a totally legit runner up in the 2011 ROY race behind only Bryce Harper. 16-11, 3.33 ERA, backed up by a 3.15 FIP. And he followed that up with a good sophomore season, 33 Starts, 202 IP, 109 ERA+. He went through a tough 4 year stretch after that, but discovered a cutter in 2018, reinventing himself. I never met him personally but I know everyone seemed to like him, so it’s nice to see his success and getting the attention for the No-Hitter

Makakilo: I remembered his name, but not much more. Though I may be wandering away from the question, his achievement is more remarkable because his career almost ended prior to the 2018 season. After high ERAs (5.37 & 5.61) in 2016 and 2017, he almost did not play in the Majors in 2018. The Brewers gave him a minors contract and on 29 April (date delayed by a minor groin injury) they faced a decision whether to promote him or release him. They promoted him, his ERA was 2.57 in 2018, and the rest is history.

James: The biggest thing I remember about him is that he was better than he often got credit for. The hard part with convincing anyone was, when he got beat - he got beat in a bad way. Things really went south for him in epic fashion when he was shipped off to the AL East. Once he got out of there though, he started to turn things back around. Developing the cutter certainly helped with that. I think what I remember most about him was being the first Diamondback starter since Webb that came out of the system and had the chops to stick in the rotation. I also remember being disappointed that the team shipped him off for pennies on the dollar to Boston, rather than keeping one of the only reliable arms they had for the rotation, even if he was coming off a somewhat down season.

Caesar’s sports book is coming to the former Game Seven Grill. What do you think?

ISH95: All I’ve wanted basically since I was ten years old was a decent restaurant in that place and it looks like I’ll still be waiting. They should have resurrected Alice Cooperstown, IMO, but that probably would never have happened any way.

Jack: Where are we going to fit the Ferris Wheel ?

Makakilo: Hawaii does not allow sports betting. That could be why Las Vegas was nicknamed the ninth Hawaii Island. Will Phoenix become the tenth Hawaii Island?

Was Caesars picked because it was the least bad of all the possible providers of sports book, or was Caesars picked because it reflects the values and culture of the Diamondbacks? Perhaps the answer was a little of both, based on the following quote.

“Caesars is considered the cream of the crop and aligns with our philosophy when it comes to professionalism, brand presentation, customer treatment and best in class William Hill’s mobile sports book product. Equally important, we went through our strong due diligence to find the industry leader in the education and execution of responsible gaming.” — Derrick Hall

James: My hope is that Caesar’s goes all-out and it becomes a quality place to both place a wager and to enjoy some grub while watching games. Like ISH, I have been waiting a long time for decent food to arrive in that spot. Caesar’s has the chance to make that happen. THey could also cheap out some and simply offer a few drinks while dedicating the rest of the space to wagers and little else. That would be a shame, and an awful waste of such a prime space.

What, if any, celebrity death had most impact on you?

ISH95: Stan Lee was hard. So was Robin Williams. Probably either of those.

Jack: As a newly minted teenager at the age of 13, the death of Roberto Clemente in a plane crash New Years Eve 1972 while on a humanitarian aide mission devastated me. He was my favorite non New York Met player. I actually removed his Stat-O-Matic card from the game set and hung it on my wall for a while out of respect.

As a 21 year old young adult the murder of John Lennon was shocking, unimaginable, enraging,

and depressing. I’ll never forget waking up to my clock radio and hearing the words “Some asshole shot John Lennon last night”. Then they played commercial free Lennon and Beatles

songs for the rest of the morning. I stayed in bed and didn’t go to work.

As a guy pushing 60, Robin Williams suicide made me cry on and off for several days as I mourned with the rest of the world. It’s the saddest I’ve ever felt about someone I didn’t personally know dying.

Makakilo: An autographed picture of Jimmy Stewart hangs in my office. He died in 1997. As I strived to be more like him as a role model, some life lessons for me were:

  • Be a humble average guy who is intelligent & who articulates his beliefs and dreams.
  • Be a strong man who overcomes adversity without resorting to threats or violence.
  • Be approachable by everyday women and remarkable women.
  • Forge a remarkable life out of everyday conflicts and situations.

James: I am not sure any one name hits the “hardest”. There are four names that I think hit pretty hard, plus a fifth event. Peter O’Toole dying was a bummer. He was quite old and lived a full life, but I was still sad to see him pass without ever securing an Oscar, instead, passing away as the performer with the most nominations without a win. As a fan of his work and a student of cinema, that sort of hurt. For more personal reasons, Prince, Heath Ledger, and David Bowie were some big celebrity losses for me. The most any “major death” hit me was probably the Challenger disaster. That turned my entire week upside down.