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SnakePit Round Table: Fletch Lives!

Dominic Fletcher came out of nowhere, the bullpen went on fire and Brandon Pfaadt bounced back.

MLB: Washington Nationals at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

What do we think of Dominic Fletcher?

Spencer: Right now he’s awesome! I expect regression to come, but even then he’s still fighting for time alongside Thomas and McCarthy. An excellent situation to have if they can all motivate each other. But I do suspect one of those three and Canzone/Barrosa/Patino becomes trade bait in July for a controllable piece. Packaged with a SP prospect we could get a significant piece back. On their own, it’s iffy.

Makakilo: So far in May, his performance is outstanding:

  • Offense. 1.231 OPS leads the Diamondbacks. He hit 5 RBIs in Saturday’s game!.
  • Defense. In RF, 2 OAA and 2 DRS in 59 innings. He made a great double play in Saturday’s game!

April 30 was his debut in the Majors, so his stats come from a small sample size. Nevertheless, he shows Diamondback success in developing players because they drafted him in the second round of the 2019 draft.

James:I was singing Fletcher’s praises back in 2021. I like his skillset a to, but I honestly thought he had been passed up in the pecking order to never be heard from again. Seeing him get a shot now makes me happy. That he is making the most of his opportunity is good to see. At the very least, he gives the team another option for CF, making it easier to send Thomas back to Reno to find his swing if they think it is necessary.

Steven: A breath of fresh air as the offense has stagnated of late. I keep watching him play and am reminded of another young player, Daulton Varsho. He’s been hitting everything and while it’s not going to continue, it’s putting pressure on the young outfielders like McCarthy and Thomas to perform knowing their job isn’t a given. It’s a great run, but there’s some glaring stats that question whether it’s sustainable. A .515 BABIP, .340 xwOBA, and makes elite contact while having below average sprint speed. It’s early, and we’ll see how opponents adjust.

Wesley: Like James, I’ve been singing Fletcher’s praises since ‘21, so I can say I’m all that surprised by the running start he’s gotten at the MLB level. Obviously, I don’t think he’s going to maintain this blistering level of offense, for the reasons Steven succinctly stated, but I do think it lights a fire under the other OFers, knowing that they have Fletch nipping at their heels.

Justin: Right now he is awesome and I have been very impressed. We will see once the league starts adjusting to him.

Dano: He went 0 for 3 this afternoon, so that dude is dead to me now. He’s done.

Justin: He didn’t break Durazo’s RBI record, so lazy!

Dano: Exactly.

ISH95: He is now third in the NL rookie position players for WAR. I am now rooting for him to win ROTY because it would be the funniest option.

The D-backs bullpen had a rocky week. How can it be fixed?

Spencer: I don’t know. Not sure it can be saved this year without trading significant future pieces. Which I would not be cool with. But this offseason something drastic needs to happen. Hazen has failed with his bullpens every year. He’s got to find some advisor who knows what they are doing and change course again. He tried the powerarm route this year, which I commend, but it failed as much as the has-beens with experience and rando nobodies has in the past.

Makakilo: Two perspectives follow:

Team Perspective. Perhaps this week was more of a decline than a rocky week. Looking at all teams from 7-12 May, Diamondbacks relievers ranked 20th with .337 wOBA, .333 OBP, and .444 SLG (per Baseball Savant). That means 10 teams’ relievers underperformed the Diamondbacks in each of those three stats.

Pitchers Perspective. Noteworthy was that Kyle Nelson continued to pitch very well during this last week. Two pitchers, who I am optimistic about, were pitching at their season best just before slumping this week. I am hopeful they will quickly bounce back. For details, see the following table:

Addendum #1: In Sunday’s game Jose Ruiz pitched a scoreless inning with one batter reaching base.

Addendum #2: Jim’s comment from the game thread follows.

James: Promote from within, don’t wait to try out some of the borderline starters in the bullpen. Sign actual bullpen arms with a decent track record that still have not reached their expiration date. Above all, stop dumpster diving for arms.

Steven: Despite the poor stretch, I’m not worried. Bullpen is such a fickle beast, and all it takes is a stretch of bad luck to ruin a season due to how little innings these guys throw. It can’t be fixed overnight, and until the team either converts former starters to relievers or invests actually long-term money to the position, they will continue to treadmill mediocre performance and disaster.

Justin: Well, we know that throwing random washed up players out there doesn’t work very well…

Dano: I honestly don’t even know at this point. It really doesn’t seem like rocket science, does it, to build at least a reasonably high-quality bullpen? And yet, here we are, having this conversation again for, what, the seventh year in a row? Or has it been longer? I mean, we’re certainly better in terms of our bullpen this year than we have been the last several, but come on. How have Mike Hazen & Co. not solved this yet?

Wesley: I don’t know. I’m not worried about the bullpen, just because it’s just one of the those things that will make you lose your mind if you spend too much time worrying about it. Is it really a baseball season if the Dbacks bullpen isn’t maddening?

ISH95: Can it be? I’m sure, but as much faith as I have in Hazen overall, I don’t have faith in him to do it any time soon. Probably going to involve at least one of the young rookies moving there full time. Maybe a trade. Probably nothing really substantial until the off season

Revisiting last week’s question: are we concerned about Brandon Pfaadt yet?

Spencer: Still no. He’s young. He’s a “corner-painter” not a flamethrower and he hasn’t been sharp. It will come. Or it won’t. But two starts isn’t enough to say one way or the other. I’ll probably begin to worry if he gives up 7 runs again in the third outing, or if he has multiple horrible innings.

Sunday Update: his game against SF only reaffirmed my excitement for him. It’s easy to forget the final stage of development takes place at the MLB level. He’s going to be just fine.

Makakilo: So far, he pitched two games. So far, two numbers (5.6 and 24) tell his story.

  • His 5.6 homers-per-9-innings is an unsustainable outlier. Baseball is a game of very small adjustments & tweaks; I’m hopeful he will find his needed adjustments and tweaks.
  • At 24 years of age, he has not yet reached his peak performance.

Addendum: Sunday’s start was encouraging! 5 innings pitched with 5 strikeouts and only 1 home run.

James: Not yet. The hard-hit rate and the home runs are concerning in isolation, but the rates are still the result of just two outings. Let’s see where he is in three or four more outings.

Steven: I’m not worried. There could be a wide number of factors causing this - nervousness, lack of adjustments,or lack of familiarity with his new teammates. It’s also just two games. While it sucks our new player isn’t lighting it up right out the gates, I think showing some patience is wise. At the same time, we already saw Bumgarner dumped for a string of bad performances, and Hazen is running out of options. Davies should be back soon, but as the team keeps trodding along in the race for a Wild Card spot, they need to act fast before things run off the rails.

Justin: I will echo my response from last week and say no. Though, this time it’s a sample of 2… (written before Sunday’s game)

Now I am even less concerned. (written after the game)

Dano: I held off answering these questions until after this afternoon’s game was in the books, but my answer hadn’t changed from last week either. Pfaadt’s performance today may have modified it from “No, I’m not worried” to “Hell no, I’m not worried,” but that’s it. Kid needs time to figure things out up here. Today it looked like he’s starting to do that. He’ll be fine.

Wesley: It’s two games, there’s no reason to worry about such a small sample size. Revisit this question at the all-star break, or the offseason, because it’s still too early to pass judgment.

ISH95: Nope

Corbin Carroll seems to be struggling since his knee injury. Did he come back too soon?

Spencer: Maybe. It could also be that the league is adjusting to him and he’s simply slumping. Both are acceptable so long as he digs his way out. Not going to hear me genuinely complaining about his performance so far.

Makakilo: No. Initially, they seemed overly cautious until they revealed he had fluid on his knee. Because of that fluid, they had an appropriate level of caution.

James: Probably not, but giving him some extra rest and training probably would not be a bad idea either. Let him play at 60-70% for now and see if the rest and the training help him out.

Steven: There might be some discomfort in that knee as it recovers but he’ll be fine. We’re a month in and I can bet you most players are working through some injury or another. Just how it happens. We can come back to this in a week.

Justin: Maybe. My thinking is pretty much what Spencer said.

Dano: I dunno if he came back too soon, but he definitely seems to be having some trouble getting back to how he was performing at the plate before the knee thing. Per Steven, give it another week and see if this is something we need to revisit.

Wesley: Maybe? I agree, give him a week and see if it is still an issue. I wouldn’t expect him to be completely recovered yet, regardless of severity. Injuries take time to heal, and the league has probably adjusted.

ISH95: I don’t think an IL stint would have been the worst thing for him. I honestly feel that it’s just the league adapting to him. Bound to happen

As we hit the quarter mark, what grade would you give the D-backs this year?

Spencer: Solid B. Can’t really go higher because recently they’ve been losing to teams they probably ought to beat. But the start of the season was so strong, that’s hard to ignore.

Makakilo: If the season ended today, the Diamondbacks would be a wild card team. That’s an A! They are not yet consistently playing as well as their capabilities, so their grade is reduced to an A-.

James: I give them a solid B. The team is still overperforming in my estimation, but several of the developments I was looking for this season seem to be playing out. This team is going to be strongly poised to be competitive starting as soon as next season with a reasonable expectation of a deep playoff run, perhaps a pennant, in 2025.

Steven: A. They’ve played exciting and most importantly, competitive baseball all season long and I have no doubt it won’t continue. They’re the 4th best in the National League! Enjoy it!

Justin: B+

Dano: Who would have imagined on Opening Day that we’d be sitting at 23-18, and as Steven notes, we’d have the fourth best record in the National League, trailing only the division leaders? Certainly not me, especially considering our strength of schedule to start things off. A.

Wesley: B+. They’re a wild card team if the season ended today. Leading the division would be better, but sneaking into the post season a wild card works for me!

ISH95: y’all are hard to please. This team is two years removed from a 110 loss season and is (slowly) building a lead in the WC while mostly keeping pace with the Dodgers. A

What’s something popular that you refuse to get into?

Spencer: True Crime podcasts.

Makakilo: Docuseries.

James: TikTok

Justin: movies. Maybe not “refuse” but Ive just never really gotten into sitting down and watching a 90 minute film. Poor attention span? Lol, I currently have a half watched movie in my “keep watching” thing on Prime from like a week ago.

Dano: Using a smartphone for anything but texting, talking to people, or the occasional web browsing.

Wesley: Driving cars. Anywhere else in the world, no one would care that I don’t drive. It’s only in the suburban hellhole of middle America that it even matters. If I lived in a large urban city like NYC, San Francisco, or in Europe, Asia, and other places with decent public transportation, I’d be in the majority.

Justin: I don’t drive either, take the bus and city shuttles, but drivers here really are horrible. There was a bus driver that told me this area is worse than major cities

ISH95: I’m with James. TikTok.