“I’m Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today!”
Record: 33-73. Pace: 50-112. Change on 2004: 0.
Yeah, Sundays are scheduled to be the day when my involvement in the game is nothing more than applying bells and whistles to a guest recap. But for some, totally explicable reason - connected to the abject suckage of the Diamondbacks this year - there hasn't exactly been a flood of applicants for August. As in, the entire list consists of Justin (and thanks to him for it) maybe wanting to do the 29th. Based on this afternoon's experience, it's not difficult to see why. It just feels as if there’s an awful long climb back up, before the team can even aspire to mediocrity. For on the basis of this afternoon, the deficiencies currently appear to encompass just about every element of play.
To start, remember when Caleb Smith was good? As in June, when he made six starts and has a 2.87 ERA. Since then? Hoo-boy. The wheels have completely fallen off. After this afternoon's sponsored walkathon, here is Smith’s line in five outings since the calendar turned to July:
Smith: 21.1 IP, 23 H, 26 R, 26 ER, 14 BB, 24 SO, 10.97 ERA
This afternoon, it was his complete inability to throw strikes that was his downfall, with five walks to the first 12 batters Smith saw. He gave up two walks in the first, but was able to strand those. He then loaded the bases in the second, on an infield hit and two walks. Hope of a similar escape flickered briefly as he got the pitcher to pop out, then K'd Mookie Betts. However he never got the third out. A walk, another infield hit and a bases-clearing double from Albert Pujols finally put a merciful end to the outing. Reports of a rifle shot from behind the D-backs' clubhouse were unconfirmed, after Smith took 70 pitches to record five outs.
In his defense, both of the infield hits were plays that might perhaps have been made. Drew Ellis got eaten up by a smash at the hot corner, which was hard but almost right at him. And there was a ball in the hole that I suspect Nick Ahmed v.2019 might well have made. I get the feeling his glove is not what it was: since the start of 2020, he's only ranked ninth among shortstop by UZR or Def. While a small sample size for defensive metrics, with an OPS+ of 77 in that time, he's not providing much output with the bat. All told, he's 19th among SS for fWAR over that time. The last 380 games of Ahmed's contract (he's owed $18.25 million in 2022-23) could seem considerably longer...
Oddly, this afternoon, of the Dodgers' first seven hits, five were of the infield variety. I'd have said all but one of those could, if not should, have become outs. Though the D-backs had a couple of their own, mustering half of the four hits - all coming on singles - they were able to get off Julio Urias and the Dodgers bullpen. The only time they got a man past first base in the whole game, came when Christian Walker was able to advance on one of those infield hits, courtesy of an error by the Evil Leprechaun. He was, inevitably, stranded there. Ketel Marte did single, in his first at-bat back off the injured list, meaning he now has a hitting streak stretching from June 15-August 1. Or “nine games”, if you prefer.
After Smith took the walk of shame, Matt Peacock took over, with his sixth relief appearance of the year lasting 3+ innings. Coming into this season, only one bullpen pitcher had more in a season for the D-backs: Josh Collmenter had nine in 2013. But this year, Peacock doesn’t even have most on the team, with Riley Smith having seven relief outings of 3+ innings. Today, Matt gave up two earned runs on five hits over 3.1 innings. Stefan Crichton hit two batters, allowing a run in the sixth. Ryan Buchter then came within a strike of an immaculate inning in the seventh, striking out the first two batters on three pitches, then going 0-2 on Betts. But in a microcosm of the year, Buchter then went single, double, three-run homer. 11-0 Los Angeles.
Jake Hager also made his Diamondbacks debut, becoming the 55th player to appear for the team this year. We’re not even two-thirds of the way through the season, and that’s already three more than the previous franchise high (52 in 2014). In case you’re wondering, the all-time high in MLB recorded history is 64, by the 2019 Giants. Something exciting for us to keep an eye on over the last two months of the season. Anyway, Hager went... well, he did about as well as might be expected from a guy who has been DFA’d by three separate teams since late May (the Mets, Brewers and Mariners). Which would be 0-for-3 with two strikeouts. Other n00b, Drew Ellis did no better, going 0-for-4 with three K’s.
Miguel Aguilar’s second outing did not go as well as his major-league debut, in which he stranded the runner he inherited at third, with no outs. A walk and RBI double ended his pristine career 0.00 ERA, and made the score 12-0. Catcher Bryan Holaday, making his sixth career relief pitching appearance, allowed a lead-off homer to Betts, then “settled down”, with a hit batter, double-play (from the opposing reliever, though Yefry Ramirez did start out his professional career as an infielder!), walk and fly-out. This inflated his career ERA somewhat, from 6.75 to 7.20, a fitting end to a series which had begun with so much promise. It’s the 11th shutout this year, already the most since 2014. Only 56 games left, folks!
Click for details at Fangraphs.com
Starlord: Ketel Marte, +1.6%
Ronan the Accuser: Caleb Smith, -33.8%
Rollcall through the middle of the eighth was as follows: AzDbackfanInDc, DBacksEurope, DeadManG, Diamondhacks, GuruB, Jack Sommers, Jim McLennan, Makakilo, MesaDBacksFan, NikT77, Oldenschoole, Snake_Bitten, Ubersnake, edbigghead, gzimmerm, kilnborn. Sorry if you showed up after that point, I’m looking to get this knocked out as soon after last pitch as possible. Snake Bitten picks up comment of the thread:
Up next for the team? Oh, they just have a four-game set against the side with the best record in the majors this year, the San Francisco Giants. What could possibly go wrong? Taylor Widener takes the mound for the opener there. Which I am also recapping. I dunno, I must have been Attilla the Hun in a previous life or something.