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2023 SnakePit Awards: Pitcher of the Year - nominations

Nominations: more or less.

World Series - Texas Rangers v. Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Never mind Arizona’s pitching staff, there was a wide range in the quality of the nominations received for this award. They ranged in size from two words - I guess some literally nominated themselves - to three hundred and sixteen. There was also a nomination for pitching coach Brent Strom, which was a good idea, but probably should have been in the Unsung Hero category, I think.

Zac Gallen

Nominated by Michael McDermott: “Nominating Gallen.” Well, who can possibly stand in the face of such an irresistible case. :) Admittedly, he did start the All-Star Game for the National League this year, the first D-back to do so for more than twenty years, since Curt Schilling in 2002. This was largely on the back of a seven-start spell where Gallen went 6-0 with a 1.16 ERA and a 60:4 K:BB over 46.2 innings. Zac wasn’t as good after the break, with an ERA almost a full run higher, and there was also the weirdness of his home/road splits, where the gap was closer to two runs. His post-season was a bit meh too, with a 4.54 ERA, but Gallen threw more total innings than any D-backs pitcher since Brandon Webb in 2007.

Kevin Ginkel

Nominated by chwalter. “The most consistent regular season reliever, and the best in the postseason.” Ginkel has already picked up our Unsung Hero award, so I’m going to plagiarize myself from there. “Ginkel even briefly took over as team closer in July, notching three saves over eight days, before the arrival of Paul Sewald. Kevin dropped back into a set-up role, and over the 35 games following his recall, had a 2.25 ERA and 44 strikeouts in 36 innings. He then improved further during a stellar post-season, where he pitched 11.2 scoreless innings with 15 strikeouts, and his Win Probability of +97.3% was the highest by any pitcher in the 2023 playoffs.”

Merrill Kelly

Nominated by Justin27, and others. “I do think there is a legit case for him. Kelly was steady, it seemed like Gallen had his swings more, particularly in the second half (that could just be small sample size bias.. For a guy who was “salvaged” from the KBO, for him to be solidly a 2, with an appearance in the WBC speaks to how his command of his skills are quite impressive... Kelly was pretty darn consistent all season, and pitched 177 innings despite battling a blood clot and other leg-related issues. He also improved his strikeout numbers significantly. He didn’t seem to go through the same “swings” as Gallen like you mentioned, which is why I’d pick Kelly over the team’s “true” ace.”

Brandon Pfaadt

Nominated by EdTheRed99. “My favorite pitcher.” Well, that’s honest. But if there was a category for Most Improved Player on the team this year, Pfaadt might well be the front-runner. Don’t forget, the aim was for a soft landing, perhaps retaining his rookie status for 2024. Instead, he was forced into the rotation after barely a month. There were struggles, demotions to the minors, and recalls, but it seemed that Pfaadt improved every time he came back up. His first five starts had an 8.37 ERA; his last five, barely half that at 4.32. He then came of age in the post-season, with a 3.27 ERA against the toughest of line-ups, including two crucial starts against the Phillies in the NLCS.

Paul Sewald

Nominated by Dbacks fan from Japan: “Now, Sewald had a rather rough first season with Arizona, but hear me out. Sewald had a SO% of 28.6% (League average was 22.3%) which was top of the team, beating Gallen’s 26.0% and Ginkel’s 27.6% while managing to secure 13 saves in 15 opportunities. However, the reason I am nominating Sewald particularly is because of his impact on the entire rest of the dbacks bullpen!

Our bullpen at the beginning of the season was shaky, unreliable, and blew way too many winnable games (13 blown saves in 37 chances between the three headed beast of McGough, Chafin, and Castro). Our “A” bullpen at one point consisted of McGough, Chafin, and the departed spirit of Josh Rojas. However, the trade to bring Sewald to AZ stabilized the bullpen. Mike Hazen stated that “When we acquired Paul, we had talked about not having a closer for a couple of years now... We tried to piece it together in various ways... When we got him, I think what it did by pushing everybody a little bit forward was settled everybody into roles and allowed for stability to happen around that.”

Joe Mantiply also echoed this sentiment by saying that: “I think the addition of Sewald and then having Ginkel in the 8th inning, Sewald to the ninth. When you have that stability in the back end of your bullpen, it really takes the pressure off the rest of us.

Despite not once making a clean appearance during the regular season, Sewald made it count during the postseason, pitching flawlessly in every outing (until he ran into the unstoppable force of Corey Seager), racking up 16 strikeouts in 10 innings pitched!! As such, for his postseason gems, his decent showing during the regular season, and mainly his stabilizing presence for the rest of the bullpen, I nominate Paul Sewald as our pitcher of the year!”

For sheer effort, I’m likely going to vote for that one. :) The poll is below, or it’s linked here in case of mobile issues. After the Unsung Hero situation, I will be keeping a careful eye out for any ballot shenanigans...