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Diamondbacks 7, St. Louis 16 (!): The Worst Outcome Money Can Buy?

Our offense did its sputtering best to keep us in it, but our two most highly-paid pitchers made that an impossible task.

Hungry Ghost Festival in Indonesia
Hazen & Co.’s “Hungry Ghost Festival”
Photo by Kiki Cahyadi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Okay. It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to recap a game, and while it is very nice to be back, this was quite the game to come back on. So we’re going to start somewhere I don’t generally start. We are going to start with the money.

First off, as we all know, the Diamondbacks payroll is that of a small market team. Our active payroll is roughly $68,500,000 at this point in the 2022 season. We are paying a bit more than $13 million more to players on the injured list, and it seems we have another $7.25 million tied up with money we still owe to players we’ve let go or traded away. That puts us at roughly $90 million overall.

Our starter tonight, Madison Bumgarner, takes home the lion’s share of that total payroll—some $23 million of it, or more than 25%. His pitching line tonight was 513 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 HR, 3 K and 2 BB on 93 pitches thrown. He earned the loss, bringing his record for the year to date to 6-13, and his ERA to 4.53.

Our second most highly paid pitcher, Mark Melancon, earns $6,000,000 this year, accounting for nearly 7% more of our total payroll. He was, as you know, signed during the off-season to be our closer, and as you may be aware, he has recently lost the closer job. He came on to start the top of the ninth inning tonight, when we were within a run and the game was still in reach. His pitching line was 0 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, and 1 BB, bringing his ERA for the yeur to 5.18. He failed to record any outs before he was pulled for Edwin Uceta.

Our two most highly-paid position players, Ketel Marte ($8 million, ~9% of total payroll) and Nick Ahmed ($7.75 million, ~8.6% of total payroll), contributed nothing whatsoever tonight. Marte was sitting and never stirred from the bench. Ahmed is out for the season with a persistent shoulder injury.

So basically half of our active roster payroll provided NOTHING to help us win this game, and those who participated at all—Bumgarner and Melancon—only contributed in the sense that they made it impossible for us to win.

That sucks. In fact, it’s infuriating. Deep breath.


On to the recap.

It seemed to start off well enough for us in the first, as Bumgarner took the mound, facing off against St. Louis righthander Dakota Hudson, who apparently has been walk-happy this year and is in danger of losing his rotation spot. Bumgarner retired the top of the Cardinals’ lineup in order on only five pitches, which according to the broadcast was the fewest pitches he’s thrown in a first inning ever. Meanwhile, Hudson was broadly as wild as I’d been led to believe, surrendering a one-out walk to DH Emmanuel Rivera, followed by a Josh Rojas single to right that advanced Rivera to third. Christian Walker sacrifice flied to deep center, allowing both runners to tag and advance, with Rivera crossing the plate to draw first blood. Carson Kelly then blooped a single to shallow right that scored Rojas:

Sergio Alcantara, manning the hot corner tonight, struck out looking to end things, but we’d hung 29 pitches on Hudson and had put up a crooked number. 2-0 D-BACKS

Bumgarner was surprisingly efficient in the second as well, retiring the middle of the Cards’ order on only nine more pitches, despite giving up career dinger #691 to Albert Pujols with one out. Our lineup turned over but sat down in order in the bottom of the second, and gave Hudson a bit of a break by only seeing seven pitches total. 2-1 D-BACKS

So Bumgarner was only at 14 pitches going into the top of the third, but his efficiency abruptly left the building. That, or the St. Louis batters’ plate discipline showed up. Either way, he wasn’t getting quick outs anymore, and he surrendered another run on a one-out walk, followed shortly by back-to-back two-out singles (one of them to former D-Back and current front-runner for the NL MVP Paul Goldschmidt) that tied the game. The Cardinals also saw 29 pitches this inning from MadBum, more than tripling his pitch count for the game so far. 2-2 TIE

We took the lead again, though, in the bottom of the third, thanks to a leadoff walk from Rivera, followed by Rojas beating the throw on a potential double play ball, then Christian Walker getting hit by a pitch, and finally another two-out single from Carson Kelly, this one dropping into left and scoring both Rivera and Rojas:

Again, Alcantara struck out to end the inning, but again, we’d put up a two-spot. 4-2 D-BACKS

We gave it all back, though, sadly, in the top of the fourth. Pujols led off the frame by hitting dinger #692 of his career, depositing it in pretty much the same place that he’d put the first one. Bumgarner didn’t even seem particularly flustered by this—like the rest of us, it seems like he’s just accepted that, yeah, part of what he does now is he gives up long balls, whatever. The Cardinals were continuing to hang long at-bats on him, though, and while he recovered and retired the next two batters in order, it took him 14 more pitches to do so. He didn’t get out of the inning without further damage, either. St. Louis backup catcher Andrew Knizner doubled down the left field line, and the amusingly-named RF Lars Nootbaar then singled to right, scoring Knizner. 33 more pitches in total this inning for Bumgarner, and we were knotted up again. 4-4 TIE

Nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard in the fifth, as Bumgarner seemed to settle down and sit the heart of the Cards’ order down on only nine more pitches, and we squandered a leadoff Rojas double to left in the bottom of the frame, leaving him stranded at third. Also, Dakota Hudson got the hook one out after the Rojas double, and was replaced by some dude, Genesis Cabrera, who was effective.

Bumgarner took the mound for the top of the sixth, but promptly surrendered another hit to Pujols, a line drive that struck the base of the left field wall. Jake McCarthy played it expertly to keep Pujols to a single, but if the launch angle had been a bit different, it could well have been #693 for Albert. For whatever reason, Pujols then attempted to steal second, and was cut down by a perfect Carson Kelly throw, which was nice. It was also kind of adorable that Pujols tried. He was like, “I’m Albert Pujols, I’ve already hit two more home runs in my first two at bats, sure, what the hell, I’ll try stealing a base. That would be cool.” Or so I would like to imagine.

MadBum walked the next batter anyway, though, and that was the end of his night. Noe Ramirez came on in relief, recorded a second out before walking another batter, and then giving up a Nootbar triple into the right-field corner that Daulton Varsho fluffed. The two baserunners scored, and so did Nootbar, giving St. Louis their first lead of the game. 7-4 St. Louis

We did nothing in the sixth or seventh against the Cardinals’ bullpen, while St. Louis tacked on another run in the top of the seventh against Chris Devenski, thanks to a leadoff double, a steal of third, and a two out single that brought another run home. 8-4 St. Louis

Joe Mantiply pitched the top of the eighth for us, and despite giving up two singles, he managed to put up a zero. Jordan Hicks, our Cardinals bullpen nemesis last night, took the mound for the bottom of the eighth, and much to my surprise, it turned out we were ready for him. Jake McCarthy led off with a homer to left:

Carson Kelly then walked, advanced to third on an Alcantara double, and scored on a wild pitch by Hicks. Alek Thomas then proceeded to beat out an infield single, scoring Alcantara. Hicks left the ballgame then, having recorded no outs, giving way to Giovanny Gallegos, St. Louis’s sometime closer. Gallegos ended the debacle, but we were now within one. 8-7 St. Louis

Mark Melancon came on for the top of the ninth and, well, never mind. You already saw the pitching line above. The first seven Cardinals batters reached base without an out being recorded, Melancon went the way of Hicks, leaving the game without getting an out, Edwin Uceta came on to relieve him, and the bloodletting continued. Here’s how the whole inning went: single, double, single, walk, grand slam, single, walk, ground out, line out, homer, strikeout. The Cardinals doubled their score for the game in one inning. We did nothing in the bottom of the ninth. 16-7 St. Louis FINAL

Win Probability Added, courtesy of FanGraphs

Earning His Pay: Carson Kelly ($3.325M, 3 AB, 2 H, 1 BB, 3 RBI, +31.4% WPA)
Not Worth the Money: Madison Bumgarner ($ and pitching line above, -15.5% WPA), Mark Melancon ($ and pitching line above; -13.6% WPA)
Victim of the FanGraphs Algorithm: Noe Ramirez (23 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 ER, -33.5% WPA??!?)

It was a quiet Gameday Thread early, though it certainly picked up as the game went on. Final count at time of writing is 224 comments. Our Fearless Leader alerted us that this date in history was the Moscow debut of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, and in that spirit, Comment of the Game goes to Snake_Bitten, for their early and prescient remark about that piece of music:

If you care to watch Prince Albert continue his march up the rankings in the history books, or watch Goldie continue to build his case for being the NL MVP in 2022, or if you’re just interested in seeing if we can avoid getting swept at home by St. Louis, come join us tomorrow as Merrill Kelly takes the mound against Cardinals’ trade deadline acquisition Jose Quintana. First pitch is 1:10 AZ time.

As always, thanks for reading. As always, go Diamondbacks.