clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

SnakePit Round Table: On the brink

The D-backs unlikely 2023 run is one loss from ending. Or two wins from continuing.


Jim: Rather than formal questions at this point, I just provided the writers with a few suggestions and let them come up with whatever they wanted...

ISH95: I don’t even know man. Here I am, sitting on a light rail train taking me to an NLCS game at Chase Field. What am I even supposed to be feeling right now? No matter what happens, I am blown away by this team. I was one of, if not the, most optimistic about the outcome of this season at the beginning, and we left my prediction behind a while ago. Just phenomenal.

This team got a wake up call in Philadelphia, and I’m not sure the implications have fully set in yet, see the lack of offense in innings 1-5 the past two games, but they’re getting there.

Huge shout out to Joe Mantiply for being our second best starter so far this series. Even bigger shoutout to Brandon ‘Biggest Game’ Pfaadt. That kid must have pure ice water in his veins to put up the results he has in the biggest games of not just the season, but his entire career. If we make it to Game 7, I’ve got a good feeling about it.

Idk, I really don’t. I’m just happy to be here. LETS GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Postgame: well talk about a let down. It looks like the wake up call never really set in. The team just looked limp and tired all night long. One has to wonder if this is where the inexperience is hurting us the most. All of our core is significantly past their previous high for games and innings, and it may just be there isn’t any gas left. Our opponents have all been there and done that, so perhaps they’re just better able to push through. Even the playoffs are a marathon, not a sprint, and we look to be falling short in Mile 24.

Gallen and Corbin especially look like they’ve stalled out. Gallen has now passed his previous all time high by 50 some odd IP, and Carroll has never come anywhere near this between injuries, 2020, and just less games in the minors.

I’m not going to say it’s over, but I will say I’ve spent more time in the last 24 hrs thinking about the offseason FA market than I have yet. It’s a little sad, but still very proud of this team, and, hey! I got to see an NLCS game!

Makakilo: Three topics follow:

Craig Kimbrel’s meltdown in game 4 of the NLCS.

In game 4 of the NLCS against the Diamondbacks, Craig Kimbrel allowed 3 earned runs in 0.2 innings, and he was credited with a blown save and a loss.

“I mean, the last two games sucked. I roll up in here and cost us two games. I can’t let that get in the way of what my job is and what I need to do. I need to show up and be ready.” – Craig Kimbrel

As the author of Heads Up Baseball 2.0 (see my book review) might have said if he was alive today, “Have something ready to go to when the shit hits the fan. Because the shit will hit the fan and let’s be ready for it.” – Ken Ravissa, PhD.

What did Craig Kimbrel go to? He has a job. He knows what he needs to do to prepare and show up ready to compete.

What was he thinking to restore his mental advantage of optimism? Part of it follows:

“I mean, I’ve been doing this for a long time. I’ve lost a lot of ball games and I won a lot of ball games. And the only way you come back to be successful is believing you can. And I believe the next time I touch the ball it’s going to be great.” – Craig Kimbrel

Zac Gallen’s disappointing performance in game 5 of the NLCS.

For 2023 (regular season and postseason), let’s look at the percentage of games with an ERA of 3 or less for Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Brandon Pfaadt.

  • Zac Gallen: 50% of 2023 games had an ERA of 3 or less. The postseason was 25%.
  • Merrill Kelly: 56% of 2023 games had an ERA of 3 or less. The postseason was 50%.
  • Brandon Pfaadt: 33% of 2023 games had an ERA of 3 or less. The postseason was 67%.

Perhaps our chances of winning are higher with Merrill Kelly than with Zac Gallen. And Brandon Pfaadt may have recently improved making him the best of the three choices.

How good are the 2023 Diamondbacks?

Whether they win or lose the NLCS, the 2023 Diamondbacks are as good as the 2001 Diamondbacks. They have opened a window of contention. My thoughts are in this article scheduled to post Tuesday.


Who has been our MVP and LVP of the series so far

I’d go with Pfaadt or Marte for MVP, LVP Gallen and Walker.

How good are the 2023 Diamondbacks?

Of course I am disappointed that we may not advance to the WS, but I think this team has a bright future. This was supposed to be a learning year and the contention window was opening next year. I believe I predicted 76-78 wins in the preseason win prediction article. We have even had a Phillies fan say that our team this season reminds him of them last year. I look forward to next year. Just don’t do anything stupid in the offseason.

Who you’d rather face in the World Series: Texas or Houston

Texas, but in an “anyone but Houston” way (as in Houston’s done enough winning lately and also certain incidents)

James: After Game 1, despite Gallen’s obvious struggles with location, I liked that Arizona still managed to put up some sort of fight. Then, in Game 2, I felt like Arizona more or less just gave up. The competitive spark seemed to be snuffed out by the time Kelly was pulled from the game. I was reminded of Arizona’s last regular season visit to Chavez Ravine when the Dodgers took Gallen and Kelly out to the woodshed. Coming out of that game, I wanted pretty much just one thing from the Diamondbacks - to put up a fight when they returned to Phoenix. As it turned out, Game 3, and then Game 4, seemed to give shining examples of what is meant by having home field advantage”. No, Arizona did not have the advantage for the series, but they did for those individual nights. It showed. Pfaadt shoved. The bullpen buckled down. Then, when the team fell behind, much like they did in Game 1, they insisted on going down swinging. The result was a pair of at least somewhat unlikely victories. The feeling coming out of those games was one of relief. The Diamondbacks still had fight in them, still had swagger. They still believed in themselves. That set things up for the Diamondbacks to get greedy and to seize control of the series by sending Zac Gallen to the mound at home.

I feel that the first inning of Game 5 was a microcosm of all the things that could go wrong. Had Gallen just been blasted again, Lovullo could have simply pulled the plug on his starter in a hurry. Instead, Gallen did exactly what he needed to, he got Schwarber to swing at a pitch he could do nothing with. Somehow, luck was against the Diamondbacks and Schwarber and he reached on the unlikeliest of swinging bunts off the end of the bat. Then, Gallen made his pitches and retired Turner before Harper then responded with a weak single to center. He then responded by getting Bohm to pop out meekly and it looked like Gallen was on his way to navigating his way out of the inning. But no, another weak contact hit, this one a liner into right where Carroll doesn’t have the arm to hold up runners, Schwarber scores and Harper heads to third. Even then, I still thought Gallen had control of things. No one was expecting a shutout after all.

But then the delayed steal of home happened. The throw home being just short enough to evade Moreno, who is usually nails with making that play. That, followed by the violent collision with Harper that rung Moreno’s bell changed everything. Now, a series of flukes and a possible injury to one of the most valuable players on the rosterhad Philadelphia up 2-0. Sure, Gallen stopped the bleeding there, but the atmosphere was entirely changed. Arizona was no longer looking to go toe-to-toe with the heavy hitters from Philly, they looked like a team simply trying to survive the match. Once Arizona squandered some prime opportunities to get on the board, possibly evening things up or going ahead, the pressure on Gallen was redoubled.

Credit is due to Zack Wheeler for doing his best to exploit the weaknesses of Arizona’s hitters, especially jamming Walker inside with pitches the first baseman could never catch up to. But Arizona hitters simply did not rise to the occasion. They let the Phillies off the hook too many times. Eventually, the Phillies got to Gallen for real. Again, it was in the guise of Schwarber and Harper. This time though, the balls left the yard. It was after the Harper blast that it felt, yet again, as if all the air had been let out of the balloon taking the Diamondbacks a postseason high. I’m not sure that the team played any worse after that, but the “hope” of another come from behind victory seemed to be extinguished. After the team came out tentative early and then Gallen was unable to perform pitching heroics through the sixth, the atmosphere was simply different.

Going back to Philadelphia, I once again want Arizona to get into the fight. Win or lose, I don’t want them simply rolling over like they did in Game 2 and they appeared to in Game 5. Gallen will shoulder plenty of blame for Game 5, but the rest of the team failed to show up in support. Win or lose, come out swinging and give Philadelphia everything they can handle. If the team gets eliminated instead of heading to the World Series against the Astros (probably), they should be able to hold their heads high that Philly came away with a bloodied nose.

Dano: I’m going to take this space to reflect in particular on the power of narratives. In particular, I’m thinking about the dominance of the “Philadelphia is unstoppable” narrative and so forth, especially after the first two games of the NLCS.

I can understand why that was the dominant narrative—especially after we were blown out in game 2, that narrative felt true. It completely overshadowed the fact that the Philadelphia Phillies are a wild card team, and their roster is not unstoppable by any actual measurable metric. They’ve got some very expensive and legitimately terrifying bats in their lineup, and they have a couple of pitchers who’ve had a lot of postseason success in an inevitably small sample size, and a bullpen that’s been performing well of late. But there ain’t no Cy Young candidates coming out of their pitching roster, and likely no batting titles either. They are not unstoppable, they are not unhittable. They are a flawed team, just like we are.

As such, I felt like it was absolutely crucial that we beat them in game 3, and that we did it in the way that we did it. It was a stressful and frustrating game at times, but Brandon Pfaadt et al did something that broke the national narrative—we shut down that vaunted offense. The only run they scored came off a wild pitch. And our bats, though they didn’t do as much as we might have hoped, did just enough.

Similarly, in game 4, we kept that “unstoppable” narrative from rebuilding itself. Our oft-maligned bullpen beat their hyperbolically praised bullpen, and our bats, while again sleepier than we might have liked, did enough, at the right time, to even the series.

Sadly, as we go into the last two games in Philly, the “Phillies are unstoppable” narrative is starting to reassert itself, specifically inflected now by the “home field advantage” blather. And to be fair, I think it’s a very tough hill for us to climb, taking two from Philadephia at Citizens’ Bank Park, but it’s certainly doable. We’ve already proven that the Phillies are not unstoppable. We just need to go in there tomorrow and play the best baseball that we can possibly play. If we lose, well, okay....the Phillies are a tough team, and the postseason is difficult. But if we win, then we need to get back up again on Tuesday and do it again, one more time.

Don’t get sucked into the dominant narrative, though. I’m not confident, honestly, that we take the last two. But it’s certainly possible, and possible for this team at this point in the season. Every game, it is in our power to change the narrative.

That’s all.

Jim: However, we do have a random question as usual:

What is your best advice to those under 25?

ISH95: Don’t ask advice from 28 year olds :) seriously though, best advice is don’t let anyone talk down to you because of your age, but don’t forget you still have a ton to learn. Find those you trust, who care about you, and listen to them whenever you can. It’s worked for me so far

Makakilo: Every person’s journey through life is unique. Perhaps my advice would be, “Be aware of who you are and be aware of your dreams.”

Justin: That’s good advice Mak. I am not sure what my advice would be. My advice to my past 25 year old self would be “Just because you might be struggling now, you’ll get out of this and be doing fine.”

James: Don’t give up.

Dano: Please don’t make any substantial life choices that it will cripplingly difficult to unwind if those choices wind up going awry, because honestly, they probably will. However smart you are, you really don’t have it all figured out yet. Even if you don’t believe that, and you probably don’t, try to keep it in the back of your mind as a possibility to take into account.