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2023 SnakePit Awards: Pitcher of the Year - nominations open

You picks your metric and you takes your choice.

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images

I was quite surprised to see that the D-backs’ collective ERA actually went UP from 2022 to 2023, increasing by almost a quarter of a run, from 4.25 to 4.48. It certainly didn’t feel like Arizona’s pitching was “worse” this season. However, that’s largely due to to the overall increase in run-scoring across the major leagues. Collectively across all thirty teams, the increase was even greater, going from 3.96 to 4.43. Taking that into account, the D-backs ERA+ actually improved, going from 95 to 98. They posted almost double the amount of fWAR as well, going from 6.7 to 13.0. So it feels like there was definitely an improvement - even if there is clearly work to be done.

As for who was the best pitcher, that kinda depends on what metric you want to put your faith. Among the starters, Merrill Kelly had the best ERA - which might be a surprise, since it was not him that was chosen to start the All-Star Game for the National League. However, by bWAR, Zac Gallen came out on top, though the margin was relatively close, at 4.3 to 3.8 bWAR. This was in part due to his greater workload. He made four more starts and threw 32 more innings than Kelly. Gallen’s 210 innings pitched was the most in the regular season since 2011, and when you add 33.2 additional frames across six playoff outings, you have to go back to Brandon Webb in 2007 to find such a workload for any Arizona pitcher.

Those are the obvious candidates from the rotation, but you might also find room for Ryne Nelson, whom I was surprised to see threw 27 starts, and kept the team in most of them (allowing three earned runs or fewer in 16). There’s also Brandon Pfaadt, who blossomed during the post-season - and, unlike the BBWAA, we do take playoff performances into consideration here. On the relief side, again, you pay your money and you take your choice as far as how you want to pick your nominees. Miguel Castro made the most appearances with 75, while Scott McGough led the team in relief innings pitched, throwing 70.1. Lefty Kyle Nelson also was busy, with 68 trips to the mound.

The main pitchers likely worthy of consideration are Kevin Ginkel and Paul Sewald. The former’s season we documented in depth yesterday, as he won our Unsung Hero award. But Ginkel posted a 2.48 ERA (176 ERA+) across 65.1 innings. It is the highest ERA+ for an Arizona reliever in five years, since T.J. McFarland in 2018. Sewald’s numbers were not as eye-popping, but there’s no doubting the importance of his role, providing the team with an effective closer when they needed one most. He saved 13 regular-season games in 15 opportunities, and then saved six more during the team’s run to the World Series, where it did all go a bit pear-shaped. And Ryan Thompson had a 1.46 ERA across 24.2 total innings.

The above are only suggestions, and the nomination process will be the regular one. In case you had forgotten...

  • Go to the comments section.
  • If your choice is already mentioned there, give it a “rec”.
  • If your choice is NOT mentioned, leave their name as a new comment.
  • One nomination per comment
  • Duplicate nominations will get deleted.
  • On Wednesday, I’ll tally up the recs, and use those as a guide towards a list of five or so nominees.