Who wins the fifth starter’s job?
Justin: Still kind of early, but I think Pfaadt might have an inside track. In two ST starts, he had 6 Ks in 5ip, giving up 3 hits and a walk. I am typing this before his scheduled Friday start, so I will update it as needed.
edit- Fridays game: (From Kilo’s recap)
- First Inning. He faced 6 batters before being pulled from the inning. He allowed a single, a triple and 2 walks.
- Second Inning. He reentered the game for a 1-2-3 inning with his first strikeout of the game.
- Third Inning. He pitched a 1-2-3 inning with his second strikeout of the game.
- Fourth inning. He pitched to 2 batters, with an out and a single.
Spencer: I’ve been hoping for Jameson because I like his success after such a rough year in Reno. But I’m leaning Henry so he can either succeed or fail as a starter early and if necessary move to the bullpen when someone gets DFA’d, making room for the next man up.
DBacksEurope: There is normally always one surprise on the 26-man roster or I’d like to think there is. I will go with Pfaadt as well. He was my pick some weeks ago and I’ll stick with him. He has nothing left to prove in AAA and I don’t think the FO will deliberately tamper his service clock; there used to be something like #WinningCulture that Mike Hazen preached. Spencer’s answer is more likely to happen by the way.
ISH95: As I write this, I just got a notification Pfaadt gave up 3 runs in 0.2 of an inning (though consecutive innings haven’t been a thing this ST so far so he might pitch more). I think that balances him and Jameson out with one rough start apiece so far. Given that is equal, I have to imagine Jameson has the edge, as the team probably doesn’t want to start the clock on Pfaadt if they don’t have to. Henry would be an interesting choice, though. If they’re inclined to give him room to play himself out of the rotation and into the bullpen, it would be the right move. I don’t seem them doing that just yet though, as they’re probably going to need that rotation depth still.
Makakilo: My first thought is that based on his spring training results, Ryne Nelson needs to be optioned to AAA to improve upon his results.
The following table (data through 10 March, MLB.com and Baseball Reference) compared three pitchers competing for the fifth starter spot based on a few of their results in the Majors, AAA, and this year’s spring training.
Drey Jameson had 4 starts in the Majors with a 1.48 ERA, had a better ERA in spring training, and had slightly more strikeouts per batter faced in spring training. Brandon Pfaadt had a better ERA in AAA, a better FIP*, and was better at home run prevention in spring training and AAA. It’s a very difficult decision and I’d prefer to decide after seeing more of these two pitchers.
Addendum: after Jameson’s start on Sunday, his spring training ERA rose to 7.45, his HR/BF rose to .068, and his strikeouts per BF fell to .273.
Ben: I think it’s still an open question or competition. If I had to make a guess, I would pencil Drey Jameson into that spot at the moment. I agree with the folks above that it’s still a three-way competition between Tommy Henry, Jameson, and Brandon Pfaadt. In Jameson’s favor: he’s already had his MLB debut and looked pretty good doing it, he’s looked better than either of the other two starters in this list this spring, and I don’t know if he has much more to prove in Reno. Henry struggled to find consistency in his nine starts last year and would probably be the first guy up when a starter struggles or gets injured. I suspect that the FO is reluctant to have Pfaadt debut until they’re 100% on him and I think they’d rather have their prized pitching prospect work out any kinks he has in Reno first.
Wesley: I have no Idea. Pfaadt has had an impressive spring, and I think it says a lot that after that rough first inning he had the other day, he immediately bounced back when he reentered the game. I like Spencer’s suggestion of giving Henry that spot to either succeed or fail. Jameson has the best pure stuff, has already had some success at the major league level last year, and has had a decent spring. I think Pfaadt will likely get it, only because it earns the team some extra draft picks.
How thin is the ice for Mark Melancon?
Justin: Blake, Spencer and I had a discussion on this the other day. Melancon probably has the better chance at being cut than some others. Chafin was serviceable as recently as last year, Melancon is in the last year of his contract and is a sunk cost.
Spencer: Despite the conversation Justin referenced, I don’t think it’s very thin at all. We’ve all gotten excited at the prospect of a different sort of bullpen in 2023. I think that’s the genuine goal here. But Hazen likes to give experienced bullpen arms their shot in April/May before cutting ties. Melancon is pricier than those have been in the past, but I’d say he’s nearing that boat. I don’t see him actually cut until about June though. Remember: he did have that weird Save Situation success early in 2022.
DBacksEurope: Not all relievers we have on the 40-man roster will be triumphant and others might be on a shorter leash than Melancon because of Melancon’s contract. Would he be one of few faltering on a highly competitive team, then he would be one of the first out. But the team will try to play .500 ball and that’s why they will probably keep him around until July. I expect Melancon to be good: he could be serviceable on this team if he pitches somewhere around a 4.50 ERA. I mean, that’s good for Melancon nowadays. Melancon will only lose his spot if he starts pitching Chinese bad, you know, like the Chinese pitchers at the WBC.
ISH95: I think he is on the thinnest ice of any of the Veteran Presences™, but I don’t think it’s particularly thin. Now, what role he ends up with is a much different question. The way things are playing out, he might end up being the most expensive White Flag reliever in the game.
Makakilo: Very thin. Three points
- In spring training, his .750 BABIP (2.2 innings) is higher than any Diamondbacks’ pitcher with at least 1 inning pitched. Either he was incredibly unlucky or his pitches were incredibly hittable.
- The Diamondbacks have rebuilt their bullpen, mostly with a different type of pitcher. Does Melancon fit in the rebuilt bullpen? If the fit is not good, he should be traded.
- A positive was his 4 strikeouts vs 1 walk.
Ben: I don’t think the ice is as thin as I would prefer personally. Despite all of the peripherals worsening from a career year in 2021, he does not seem to have made any adjustments over the offseason as the wheels have completely come off through three appearances. In his defense, many veterans struggle early in spring training as they may not do as intense a training as younger players. I’m more doubtful than some of my fellow writers that Melancon will get cut from the team, but I’m confident his time as a closer is completely finished and I would be surprised if he gets very many opportunities in high-leverage situations short of some serious adjustments.
Wesley: I would imagine he’s on very thin ice. He’s just not a good pitcher anymore. I think that ridiculous BABIP is a result of him being incredibly hittable, not incredibly unlucky. I doubt he’ll be on the team by the end of May if he continues with his shoddy performance.
Who gets the spots at the back of the bullpen?
Justin: I think Chafin is a lock, Kyle Nelson and Mantiply, but would they really carry 3 LHPs in the pen? I’ll defer to the other writers here, though.
Spencer: Back as in late innings, close game? Or back as in final man to make the roster? I say Closer is Melancon’s to lose, with McGough next in line since he has experience and should be able to mentor a younger guy into the role by September. Mantiply, Nelson, Familia all getting looks in innings 7-9 or tense 4-6 parts of games. Final spots? IDK. I’ll go Martin and Sulser with Frias as first alternate.
DBacksEurope: Familia isn’t on the 40-man, right? Then he is out. I am impressed this spring by the guys throwing heaters. I think they will take the late inning duties, guys like Castro and Vargas. Frias should get a shot too so they can DFA him straight away if he sucks again. I see Melancon doing middle relief duties. I can’t honestly think Hazen wants him in the closer role the way he is blowing in ST, that’s too much of a risk for Hazen too. Hazen will approach games with a closer committee though, so that means that even Melancon could get into a save situation … oh dear Lord help us …
ISH95: Melancon, Chafin, Mantiply are for sure locks. McGough too. I think Martin has earned the spot. Beyond that… you’re guess is as good as mine
Makakilo: Assuming Corbin Martin, Scott McGough, and Kyle Nelson (LHP) are the front end, the back end could be Kevin Ginkel, Miguel Castro, Joe Mantiply(LHP) and Andrew Chafin (LHP). The last spot could go to Mark Melancon, but there are other possibilities. Luis Frias, although he is a dark horse, has a 96.9 MPH fastball, has a .333 strikeouts per batter faced in spring training, and is on the 40-man roster. Will he earn an opening day spot in the bullpen, or will he join the bullpen during the season?
Wesley: I have no clue so I’ll just agree with Makikilo. What he said.
Ben: I’ll echo some of the above with Chafin having secured a spot at the backend/high-leverage area of the bullpen despite a poor spring showing thus far. On the other side of that spectrum, Familia’s had a nice spring so far, but his 2022 performance and his age make me a little reluctant to commit. If I had to name three, I’ll go with Chafin, Carlos Vargas, Kyle Nelson.
Kyle Lewis or Pavin Smith for the final bench spot?
Justin: Kyle Lewis. See what he can do, traded for him. Pavin might end up being AAAA. For a long time, I wanted Pavin to prove “the haters” wrong, and maybe be kind of a LH Conor Jackson-lite (well, pre-valley fever…). I think this year is it for him.
Spencer: Kyle Lewis. His injury history is scary, so there’s every chance Pavin will be up by May 1 anyway. Lewis has upside Pavin just doesn’t. Longo can back up Walker with Rojas manning Third making Smith unnecessary. Lewis is only a DH, which means he’s got to hit well enough to earn it, but IF he can, he’s just the better player.
DBacksEurope: Smith has options remaining so definitely Lewis. In an ideal world Lewis doesn’t get that spot either.
ISH95: Lewis. I’m curious to see what he can do, more so than Smith at this point. No baseball reason, mostly just he’s new and Smith isn’t. I’ve never been too terribly impressed with Smith, so that’s probably adding to that.
Makakilo: As a right-handed batter, Kyle Lewis will likely get the final spot instead of Pavin Smith. Nevertheless, in spring training Pavin Smith has the better OPS (1.072 vs .889). What are Pavin Smith’s batting strengths?
Addendum: Another reason - in Sunday’s game Kyle Lewis hit 3 for 3 with 5 RBIs!
Wesley: Pavin has options, Lewis doesn’t. Pavin IMO has earned a spot on the roster with his ST performance, but I think the team will want to see what they can get out of Lewis first.
Ben: I feel like we’ve all been waiting for Pavin to finally find consistency - and I’ve definitely been one of those beating the drum for him - but I think the FO’s patience has truly been tested at this point and without some consistency, he’ll end up on the Reno shuttle with Lewis taking the final bench spot.
Pick a player who has stood out for you this spring
Spencer: I haven’t been able to watch enough Spring Innings to have anyone. By stats and hype? Jameson/Pfaadt/Alexander. By SnakePit comment sections? Alexander and Kennedy for some reason. Since Blaze overlaps, I’ll very passively claim him.
DBacksEurope: Pfaadt of course. Been on his bandwagon already before Spring Training started. Justin Martinez is pretty awesome too, that is heat esquire he launches. I can see why they protected him. If it weren’t for the lack of AAA experience I’m sure he’d be a lock for this year’s bullpen on opening day.
ISH95: Justin Martinez by far. Seems like every time he’s pitching, my Twitter timeline is blowing up with people talking about how hard he is throwing. Outside of the top prospects, he’ll probably be the minor league player that receives most of my attention.
Makakilo: In last week’s roundtable, Corbin Carroll stood out. He still does. Also, the competition between Bandon Pfaadt and Drey Jameson is exciting. I’ll add an unexpected surprise; Buddy Kennedy’s 1.229 OPS leads the Diamondbacks.
Sunday morning, eureka! I hope you don’t mind me adding to my answer.
Although he is very much under the radar, Geraldo Perdomo may win the competition for shortstop.
So far, his batting shows improvement. Three points:
- In Friday’s game he hit a single, walked twice, and stole a base per my game recap.
- He is a switch hitter. Last season all his 5 homers happened as a left-handed batter. That is why it’s significant that in spring training he hit a homer as a right handed batter with a hat tip to Jack Sommers.
- His spring training batting is better than last season (data from MLB.com and Baseball Reference):
Batting Average (.353 in 2022 ST, .285 in 2022 RS, .436 in 2023 ST through 11 March)
OPS(.822 in 2022 ST, .547 in 2022 RS, .879 in 2023 ST through 11 March)
HR/PA(1 in 34PAs in 2022 ST, 5 in 500PAs in 2022 RS, 1 in 23PAs in 2023 ST through 11 March)
When I write that his batting has improved, you need to know that last season his batting had some strengths. “As Makakilo noted in his player review, Perdomo was the best contact hitter on the team, with a 12.7% swinging strike rate, and 80.8% contact rate, with a credible K:BB ratio (again, considering age and experience). His arm strength was also impressive, rating in the top quarter of players at the position.” – Jim McLennan
His defense is above average. In the 2022 season his defense earned 3 outs above average (OAA) when his location on the field was shortstop per Baseball Savant. His defense at shortstop improved from negative 7 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) before the All-Star break to positive 4 DRS after the All-Star break per The Fielding Bible.
Last season, by the narrowest of margins, he was voted the AZ Snake Pit’s Unsung Hero. This season, he continues to fly under the radar. Nevertheless, his performance will likely be impressive, at least until the arrival of Jordan Lawler.
Wesley: I’m loving the performances of the lesser guys like Blaze Alexander and Buddy Kennedy. Tommy Henry has been impressive so far. Pfaadt bouncing back when he reentered the game after a rough first inning was also quite impressive, and says a lot about his resilience as a starting pitcher.
Ben: Like Spencer, I’ve barely been able to watch much of the spring training games to this point so most of my impressions are second or third-hand. That being said, I’ll put down Gabriel Moreno so I don’t repeat myself from last week’s roundtable. He’s definitely impressed so far at the plate: he’s tied for the team lead in homers and has amassed an OPS of 1.145 in his 15 ABs. It’s tough to measure his defense behind the plate without watching him, but he seems to be making a strong case to be getting more of the share of the starts from Carson Kelly than I originally thought when the trade was announced.
If you could only have one alcoholic drink for the rest of your life, what are you picking?
Justin: Honestly, I probably drink too much, not to the extent of a former member though so maybe I should say none? But to answer the actual question, I like white wines, so I’ll go with that.
Spencer: I’d gladly take a Guinness and go on my merry, sober-living way. Did I understand that right? One drink for the rest of my life? Finish it and go sober? It’s still Guinness even if it is “as much Guinness but nothing else” for the next 100 years.
DBacksEurope: I agree on beer, but Guinness? There are so many better dark beers out there than that over-commercialised and overrated Irish oatmeal (sorry, Spencer, nothing personal though). For dark beer I had a terrific Italian one from the monastery of Montecassino, but for more widely available beers I recommend Adnams Ghost Ship for a Pale Ale or their Barleywine Tally-Ho. Take a German one if you just want “beer”.
ISH95: It’s an area of alcohol I’m still learning about, but Japanese whiskeys are quickly becoming my favorite drink out there. I’m sure there are better ones, but my current go to is Suntory Toki, though as I’m googling that to figure out how to spell it correctly, new options that I’m going to have to explore are coming up. Check back later this year
Justin: Looking at the other answers, I think I misinterpreted the question lol
Makakilo: Champagne because there may be many things to celebrate. On the other hand, if there is nothing to celebrate, having champagne bottles would look classy.
Ben: I’ll go with an old-fashioned of some kind. I’ve found it’s got the right mix of sippability (which is just a top-tier word) and ability to inebriate.
Wesley: I don’t really drink at this point? I like a well made Gin and Tonic if I am drinking. (Top shelf gin, EXTRA lime juice, premium tonic water). Champagne or champagne based cocktails would be acceptable as well. Japanese whiskey is AMAZING, although it’s more akin to Scotch than an Irish whiskey or bourbon.
What do you think of the Corbin Carroll deal?
DBacksEurope: What Corbin Carroll deal? [checks AZSnakePit.com] Holy smokes! Gonna drench my gut with beer tonight!!! Yeeehaaaa!
Spencer: You drenched in Guinness yes? Must’ve been Guinness.
Spencer: huzzah! Very excited to see him get extended for a solid amount of money (sad Goldy money signs). I would’ve been a fan of a Julio type deal, but I’ll take an Acuna one just as easily! Zero complaints.
Do Ohtani next!
Justin: It’s awesome! Sorta funny story, I was throwing away the trash after my trash run and all of a sudden I got “YAS ‘’ and then ‘HOLY SHIT” in the group text with Blake and Spencer. I couldnt see a screenshot that was sent because I have an android phone and sometimes I have issues receiving pictures on data. So at first I was just like, “What?”
Ben: This was a real blindside move by the D-Backs since I hadn’t heard any rumblings about it previously, but I think it’s brilliant. I think even with the incentives and options, the contract will still come out a little more team than player-friendly, but if he plays to the potential he’s shown, this could be one of the best/smartest contracts the franchise has ever signed.
Corbin Carroll gained two things:
- Financial security.
- Freedom to focus on being a great baseball player.
The Diamondbacks gained two things:
- Recently, he is the third Diamondback to sign a long-term extension (Merrill Kelly, Ketel Marte, Corbin Carroll). Long term extensions are one way to increase sustainability per A Perspective on Sustainability of the Diamondbacks.
- With Corbin Carroll in center field for many years, it avoided a potential performance cost as explained in Four Infielders Who Defended the Outfield (scheduled to post Tuesday).
ISH95: Any of the words I want to say (happily!!) would get my comment deleted :)
Wesley: I love this deal. It’s great for both sides. Now get Moreno signed, then Lawler and Jones once they’re called up.