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SnakePit Round Table: Spilt Gallen

In which we discuss, the Zacpocalypse, the lead-off spot and - inevitably - the bullpen...

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

How much of a shock was Zac Gallen’s Friday Night Fright?

Justin: Well, the Zachocalypse was certainly shocking for those watching, but there were those that foresaw this. People had been saying “Gallen didnt have his best stuff and…” for a few starts. Looks like it caught up to him. Incidentally, I was not aware of that when I wrote the preview.

Spencer: He should be sent down when Davies comes back! Am I doing the 2023 D’Backs fan thingy right?

Obviously that is pure sarcasm. I was shocked only because I didn’t expect Pittsburgh of all teams to jump out of their rut against him. But hopefully he can just bounce back against Philly and get down to his Cy Young business.

Makakilo: I was stunned when he walked in a run. Instead of painting the corners he seemed to be unintentionally missing the strike zone.

James: It’s baseball. Every pitcher has a bad night. Kershaw is going to go into the HoF and the Diamondbacks have tagged him for worse in the past. It wasn’t pleasant to see it. I was a little bit surprised. But, what matters more to me is how he bounces back in his next start.

Dano: Not a shock for me, really. He’s been saying that he’s felt kind of off after his last few starts, and while the results he was getting didn’t really reflect that, I have been inclined to believe him. I hope and trust that he will bounce back against the Phillies.

Steven: Shocking after how well he’s pitched recently but you’re not going to have it every start, even for pitchers as good as Gallen. I’m sure he’ll be unhittable his next time out, I feel sorry for the Phillies on Thursday, should be a fun one.

Should Josh Rojas be moved from the lead-off spot? If so, who takes over?

Justin:The other day Hacks suggested Perdomo. I kind of like that idea. No reason, I just do.

(edit- he is 1-5, with a walk and 2 Ks since I typed that, as of the 5th inning of today’s game)

Spencer: Eh. Sure? Hottest bat would be Gurriel. But he has no speed. I don’t really care one way or the other right now.

Makakilo: For now, I’d leave Josh Rojas in the lead-off spot. In past seasons, Torey Lovullo experimented with the lineup. I have faith that he will experiment and adjust the lineup as needed.

James: Based on the lineup Lovullo used yesterday, I might consider swapping Rojas and Fletcher for now and see how it goes. If Rojas can get things sorted and start getting on base more again (an OBP over .340 would be ideal), then he can get moved back up into that slot over time. But for now, I think it’s fair to say the Rojas leading off experiment isn’t working.

Dano: Yes. I like Hacks’ and Justin’s suggestion of Perdomo. Couldn’t hurt to try it, at least.

Steven: I’d start Carroll now that he’s feeling back to normal. We’ve starting to see that speed come back after what has seemed like 3 weeks of questioning whether he was healthy or not. He’s now stolen bases in two straight games and scored from 1st on a double to left. Let him cook at the top of the order.

Does the bullpen workload concern you?

Justin: Yes.

Spencer: Yeah. Of course it does. Although I’m pleased with their recent ability. It’s by no means the bullpen I want, but it’s better than the one I expect.

Makakilo: No. Through 19 May, the D-back relievers made 495 outs (league average was 493) with 2700 pitches (league average was 2755 pitches). Their workload was average.

Looking at most relief innings, none of the Diamondbacks’ relievers ranked as top 50 in the Majors. By that definition, Diamondbacks’ relief pitchers are not being overworked.

Looking at pitches thrown this season, the current Phillies bullpen has thrown more pitches than the current D-backs’ bullpen. For details, see the table in the series preview scheduled to post on Monday.

Although as a group theD-back relievers ranked lower than average in ERA and FIP, their 4.11 expected FIP (xFIP) ranked 11th best in the Majors – I’m hopeful their ERA and FIP will improve. (Workload data from Baseball Reference and pitching stats from FanGraphs.)

James: I’m less concerned with the total workload of the bullpen and more concerned with the workload for the only relievers actually getting the job done. The overall number of innings is nothing out of the ordinary, even with three rookies in the rotation. But the ones getting the job done are going to have 80 appearances by September if they cannot find some new arms in Reno and Amarillo to help. It’s time to stop taking cast-offs from other teams and to stop dumpster diving looking for bullpen talent.

Dano: I’m concerned about the bullpen, and I don’t love that our starters continue to struggle to go deep into games, so….yes, I guess? I think my concern, though, is more in line with what James is talking about–that at this rate we’re gonna burn out the arms of the relievers who don’t suck by August. Today’s rubber match against the Pirates was interesting, in terms of bullpen usage–McGough stretched out for two innings, and then Ginkel for another two. And there was that game earlier in the week when Torey kept McGough out there for 49 pitches or something. Not sure how this new experiment (if that’s what it is) works out, but at least they’re trying something new.

Steven: I worry for the guys getting the most work, Castro, McGough and Nelson have all seen action in 22 games and they have different question marks about how they can withstand this kind of workload while still performing as the backbone of the bullpen. I’m still expecting some type of bullpen acquisition, we’ll at least get Melancon back at some point, and another starting pitcher should hopefully go further into games then the young guys have been able to give.

When Zach Davies returns, who leaves the rotation?

Justin: I think it might be Pfaadt depending on his results in today’s game.

Spencer: Gallen! :P Probably Pfaadt. Maybe Nelson. If they’ve decided it’s time to convert one of Henry/Nelson, it’ll be him. Otherwise it’s probably Pfaadt; partly service time assistance and partly, he hasn’t had as much success as you’d like. Of course the latter is true of Nelson too, so it’s a coin flip.

Makakilo: It may be a decision between Tommy Henry and Brandon Pfaadt. Three points follow:

  • In his last two starts, Brandon Pfaadt’s pitching improved. Perhaps he is keeping his pitches on the corners instead of the heart of the plate. I’d very much like to see further improvement in the Majors.
  • This season, Brandon Pfaadt has a higher average fastball velocity (93.4 MPH vs 90.4 MPH). Faster velocity is a reason Brandon Pfaadt is a better fit in the bullpen.
  • This season, Tommy Henry’s had the longer start (6.2 innings vs 5.1 innings). Longer starts is a reason that Tommy Henry is a better fit in the rotation.

James: In my perfect scenario, Zach Davies. Since that isn’t an option in this case, I’m going to assume Pfaadt gets sent down since Davies’ currently lines up under normal rest to pitch on Pfaadt’s day. A meltdown outing by Nelson between now and then could change that calculus though.

Dano: Zach Davies, please. But like James notes, that’s not likely to happen, so I would assume that it would be Nelson or Pfaadt. I think it should probably be Nelson, despite him pitching very well in his last start (it was against Oakland, so I dunno that a good performance means all that much).

Steven: I think it’s Pfaadt. He’s turned the corner, but I think could use some time to reflect on his time in the MLB and work on fine tuning the difference between MLB and AAA. Still, I’m not too worried about who ends up getting the demotion. The leash will be as short as you can imagine, and trade rumors should ramp up based on how well the team is performing in late June.

Which currently struggling MLB team do you think will turn it around?

Justin: The pessimist in me says the Pirates and this weekend series will be the catalyst.

Editing after Saturday’s game: well, I did predict a 1-1 draw going into Sunday but this is definitely NOT the way I Imagined lol

Spencer: San Diego. I hope I’m wrong because it makes our trek to the World Series easier if they don’t, but I don’t buy it. They are too good. And Preller still has a few high end prospects to shove away for a huge player in July.

Justin: Yeah, you have a point there.

Makakilo: The Padres. They are all-in this season. Their $246.4 Million payroll (Spotrac) includes long contracts for veterans who likely will not age well. To acquire Juan Soto, they traded a potential top-of-rotation pitcher plus three of their top prospects plus two other prospects.

Three ways they are struggling:

  • If the season ended on Saturday, they would be 4 games away from a wild card into the playoffs.
  • Their batters’ .307 weighted on-base-average (wOBA) ranked 22nd in the Majors.
  • They lost 9 of their last 10 games.

Their offense will bounce back:

  • Their BABIP ranked 27th in the Majors. Low BABIP often bounces back.
  • Their players have talent (5 players with a total of 12 silver slugger awards).

Their GM is actively searching for ways to improve their current players, and my impression is that he will actively acquire players at the trade deadline (Spencer is likely correct). Part of what their GM said follows.

“Overall, as we go through the season, we’re going to try to improve our club if we can. I think right now the bigger focus is — there’s not many people that are going to make trades or anything like that (this soon). The bigger focus is, like, the guys that we currently have on our roster that we think a lot of, getting them to play up to their ability, what they’ve done in the past.” – AJ Preller, GM of Padres

James: I had two teams immediately jump to mind. One was the Padres, which others have already covered at length. The other team is the Yankees. The Yankees simply have too much high-end talent to not make a sustained run. Then there is the fact that they are, well, the Yankees. If they can even see the point at which they are within spitting distance of the playoffs on the distant horizon, they are going to make the financial commitment to get there.

Dano: San Diego or St. Louis, I would expect. St. Louis because they seem to always manage to put a respectable team on the field, San Diego for all the reasons mentioned above. Honestly, though, I would find it absolutely hilarious if, after spending all those truckloads of money in the offseason, the Padres just keep on doing the Padres things that they’re doing and finish in more or less the state they are in right now.

Steven: Seattle, MInnesota, and Philadelphia all have outstanding pitching that is just waiting for their offense to turn around. San Diego is there as well, but the vibes are shot in SD and with a Machado IL stint incoming, they look lost.

If someone offered you a box of everything you ever lost, what would you look for first?

Justin: I had a friend in CT named Jessica, after a few years of moving here I fell out of touch because I lost her address and number from envelopes, etc. I’ve tried looking on facebook to see if I could stumble across her, but her last name is an extremely common one and she could be married with another name now. Which is actually ironic, because if myspace or FB existed we would have just added each other. Ive found a couple of old classmates on FB. By now we’d probably not be talking anyway, but you never know. She was the only person on my street my age so we played and did things together all the time. So I guess that. Though, I suppose it would be completely worthless to find now 20+ years later! Lol.

Let’s see if I can think of anything else. Oh, I had a hockey jersey I “lost” At one point I was renting a room from someone I thought was a close friend. Her BF was very interested in a couple of my jerseys. When I moved out the NY Rangers one was missing. It was something my biological dad had given to me (who I was never close to, but still). My roommate had “no idea” what happened to it. This was in Tucson, too. This had nothing to do with why my former friend and I had a falling out, though, not getting into that.

Spencer: That childhood ability to forget all “responsibility” and truly live in the moment. Like most American adults, I’ve been forced to kill that part of me in favor of my career. I have a select group of friends that can bring it out of me every once in a while, but my brain is almost always playing mental chess in any situation now. Usually against myself… If I could guarantee the ability to shut that down on my whim and truly enjoy the moment fully more often, I’d do that in a heartbeat.

Makakilo: I would not look in the box. My explanation follows. The winds of time bring delightful good things into my life while other great things fade away or leave. Perhaps looking too hard to regain something lost will have one of two results: either discovering it wasn’t as great as I thought, or my life will experience less new delightful things. In other words, as long as I’m aware and actively living, the balance will likely be on the gaining side; but if I look back too hard the balance could be on the losing side.

James: Probably my first edition books from the 1800s. There are just so many things in this box it isn’t funny, especially with some of the disasters that hit my life and the places I lived.

Dano: A lemon yellow teapot of the “brown betty” variety that I lost when a box of kitchen stuff that I packed when I was abruptly vacating my last NYC apartment didn’t make it into the truck. My first chef’s knife was in that box, too, and while it wasn’t a great knife by any means, I still miss it. So maybe we’ll just say that lost box of kitchen stuff.