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SnakePit Round Table: Bullpen? What bullpen?

We will not be discussing the elephant in the room this week.


Admittedly, that is because this week’s set of questions were set out on Saturday afternoon, before first Andrew Chafin and then Miguel Castro, coughed up ninth inning leads in spectacular fashion. While we did talk about the closer’s role, I’m fairly sure it will be a greater topic for next weekend... And, moving RAPIDLY on...

The Brandon Pfaadt era didn’t quite start as hoped. Are you worried?

James: Not yet, not even a little. I don’t expect him to dominate the way he did in Amarillo and Reno. This was also his first start and it came against what is shaping up to be a strong offensive team. While I would have liked to see him get through five or six innings allowing no more than three runs, I was pleased by his first few innings of work before he got pounded at the end of his outing. He clearly has the stuff to compete at the MLB level. Now he needs the reps to learn how to do so effectively. A big part of Pfaadt’s success on his way to the Majors was that he pounded the zone, limiting his free passes and making hitters work to catch up to his stuff. Well, in the bigs, hitters are showing they will catch up. Now he needs to learn slightly better how to paint.

Dano: Nope. Texas is a tough team this year, and while I didn’t expect him to get shelled quite as hard as he wound up getting, I wasn’t at all surprised. Kid’s first start in the bigs, stuff like that can happen. I hope the team is able to give him the time needed to settle down and get a bit more comfortable up here. Given time, he’ll start to settle in and figure things out.

ISH95: Incredibly. Sign him to a long term extension while his stock is down. Seriously, though, not really. We got spoiled with other recent starter debuts where they looked like the second coming of Cy Young. This was a lot more normal. He was also hurt by Lovullo leaving him out there just a bit longer than he probably should have.

Spencer: LOL no.

Makakilo. I’m not worried because he had one bad inning - it happens.

  • The good. He allowed 2 earned runs in the first four innings. In those four innings, he faced only 5 batters more than the minimum of 3 per inning. Very satisfactory for a first appearance in the Majors.
  • The not-so-good. In the fifth inning, perhaps his mental concentration was disturbed when the 8th batter in the lineup hit a home run. If he had struck out that batter on either of the previous two pitches (which were on the outside edge), then the inning might have gone better. Then he experienced troubles the third time through the order.

Justin: Ok, I guess I dont know how to undo Kilo’s bullet indent thing, but to answer the question no I am not worried. It’s a sample size of one.

Makakilo: No problem, I undid the indent for your comment.

Justin: Thanks!

Christian Walker and Ketel Marte both go into plays Saturday with a 125 OPS+. Who do you have more faith in, and why?

James: Christian Walker. He has a better work ethic and is more engaged with his game as a whole. Also, he doesn’t suffer from conditioning issues that will likely land him on the IL for a few weeks once or twice this year.

Dano: Yeah, Christian Walker. The past couple of years of Marte basically being broken and not seeming to care too much that he was left a lasting bad impression with me. It’ll take longer than a month and change of good performance for that to subside.

ISH95: Neither? Christian Walker is 32 years old and has managed to do it once. Ketel Marte has hamstrings made of spaghetti, specifically the stuff that was cooked but stayed in the pan after you strained it and now is brittle. If I had to pick one, I’d probably say Marte, just because there is more history of that being possible, but both of them would represent a significant increase over career norms.

Spencer: I’m going to copy ISH here. Neither. I love both. Happy to cheer them on 162 times a year. But neither is the future I’m hoping to be rooting for in 2027.

Makakilo: I have more faith in Christian Walker. Three reasons follow:

  • Better Defense: This season, Christian Walker contributed much more to successful double plays. For details see this AZ Snake Pit article which will likely be posted Tuesday. Also, this season Christian Walker earned 3 DRS at first base, which is better than Ketel Marte’s 1 DRS at second base.
  • Better Batting: Although their season batting is fairly equal (OPS+ and OBP), looking at the last 11 games Christian Walker’s OBP is very much better (.447 vs .313).
  • He is fierce & tough, prepared & confident, aware, and skilled. For details see this AZ Snake Pit article. Buch Showalter said the following about Christian Walker, “He’s as tough a player as you’ll ever meet.”

Justin: As much as my first thought was Walker, after reading ISH’s response I will agree to that.

Corbin Carroll is on pace for 25 HR and 50 SB. Will he make it?

James: Probably not. At some point, he is going to find a slump. It may not be a long one, but it will cut significantly into his productivity. If he gets to 20 HR, that should be plenty to please just about anyone. As for the SB, it will depend on if he can continue to draw walks or not. Also, it will depend on if the opposition gives him the opportunity or not. If they key in on stopping Carroll’s running as a major part of their gameplan, then he might come up a bit short. But, if things continue the way they have been, the only thing that will stop him from reaching 50 SB is if he begins to experience late season fatigue.

Dano: I’m not holding my breath, but I think he actually might. It’s certainly possible, with talent and his skill set and the way he’s very much hit the ground running through the first month of the season. Like James says, he will find a slump, but broadly his performance looks pretty sustainable to me going forward.

ISH95: 50 stolen bases seems possible, and I wouldn’t even been surprised to see that number higher at the end of the season. Personally, I see his walks increasing over the season as he gets more acclimated, which will help. Home runs… maybe. That one I wouldn’t bet on.

Spencer: No, probably not. I don’t think he’ll hit either of those marks as a rookie.

Makakilo: What is the standard for rookie-of-the-year? In the last two seasons, the rookies of the year (AL and NL) averaged 22 HR and 19.25 SB. With the bigger bases and limited pickoff attempts, this season’s winner will have more stolen bases. Corbin Carrol’s pace seems to exceed the pace of prior winners.

MLB Pipeline’s May 1st ranking puts Corbin Carroll at number one for rookie-of-the-year.

Although it’s his speed that captured much fan enthusiasm, Corbin Carroll (5 HR, 10 SB) also has home run power and compares well to other candidates for this season, such as:

  • James Outman, Dodgers. 7 HR, 4 SB.
  • Brett Baty, Mets, 2 HR, 0 SB.

In summary, although Corbin Carroll has strong chances to win rookie-of-the-year, it’s not certain he will reach 25 HR and 50 SB.

Justin: I think that would be amazing if he did it, but I do not think so. How many times have we had a 50 SB guy? I think just Womack and Flipper? Not that that has anything to do with Corbin’s chances.

Pick one of Ryne Nelson, Drew Jameson, Tommy Henry.

James: If this is for the rotation, then I probably pick Jameson for now. I want Jameson to have a nice long run at being a starter so that the team can make a fully informed decision as to whether or not he will stick in the rotation. Never going to know for certain until he gets a full shot. Of the three, I wouldn’t be shocked if Nelson has the most starts by the end of next season and that it stays that way forever.

Dano: After last night, I’d actually say Henry for the rotation right now. Jameson in the long-relief/growing-into-a-closer role that he had when we started the year. Nelson on a bus back to Reno to figure some stuff out in a more low-stakes environment.

ISH95: Jameson, for all the reasons James said.

Spencer: Jameson. He’s been my guy for a while. I see no reason to give up on him now. Certainly in favor of either of the other two options either (not to say I dislike Nelson/Henry, but I like Dr Drey best).

Makakilo: Based on the following table from last week’s roundtable, my choice is Drey Jameson because he had the highest strikeouts per batter faced in the Majors.

Justin: Jameson.

Andrew Chafin now appears to be the closer. How does this make you feel?

James: Meh. Last night obviously does not engender confidence in that move. On the other hand, Chafin is almost certainly the most consistently reliable arm in the Arizona bullpen at the moment. Unfortunately, this is not the good Chafin of the last five seasons. This is the declining Chafin, who is still a savvy veteran with something to teach and a bit left in the tank. I’m not sure he has enough in the tank to make 70+ appearances in high leverage situations though. For now, it works. If they are going to be serious about contending in September of this season, they will probably need to switch things up along the way.

Dano: Not great, but then I’ve never felt particularly great about Andrew Chafin, and that didn’t really change since his return to the Diamondbacks. He has indeed improved since his first stint with us, and is better than he used to be at getting desired results in high-leverage situations, but as he proved last night (and since he’s been back with us, what with the cavalcade of first batters he’s allowed to reach base once he takes the mound) that he’s not a real good answer here. He’ll do, but if we’re not careful and other options don’t emerge from the bullpen mix over the course of the season, his arm’s going to fall off.

ISH95: I would feel better about it if they commit to him being the closer and only bring him in at the start of the ninth with no one on base. Not thrilled by it even then, but beggars can’t be choosers. Still better than our options the past few years.

Spencer: Um… Not great. Not quite “let’s bring Melancon back as immediate closer,” but that sentiment is creeping up. Chafin is getting the 2022 Mantiply treatment: overused in the early going to the detriment of the team and player in late going.

Makakilo: First, because the rebuilt bullpen is the best the Diamondbacks have had in years (perhaps nearly average). I would NOT acquire a closer externally (especially if it means an expensive contract for a free agent whose performance is in free fall). Then, it’s a question of how I feel about Chafin compared to the other pitchers in the bullpen.

With 2023 data, Chafin compared favorably to the Diamondbacks’ relief pitchers on the active roster, excluding pitchers who were starters this season (even for just one game). I feel comfortable with Andrew Chafin closing more games than any other pitcher because most of his stats (in the following table) were the best.

Data from Baseball Reference and

Kyle Nelson could sometimes close based on his stats, which are almost as good as Chafin’s.

With the caveat that in the three seasons prior to 2023, Jose Ruiz pitched better in low leverage situations, his stats are looking excellent, especially in the last five games. If the matchups are better (Jose Ruiz pitches right handed vs Chafin pitches left handed), success might be found with Jose Ruiz closing.

The table did not include Sunday’s game against the Nationals. In that game, Miguel Castro blew a 2-run lead by giving up 3 earned runs in the ninth. Based on the stats in the table, he would not have been my choice for closer in a close game.

Justin: Not great, but OMGZ VETERAN PRESENCE probably “makes” him be the closer. I hope they don’t continue overusing him.

What’s the best way to spend $20?

James: If all I have is $20, I’m likely just grabbing some potatoes and veggies at the store to take home and cook up with some ribeyes and then enjoying a lovely dinner with the Mrs, turning a $200 dinner into a $20 one. Otherwise, I am probably gaming with it, either in an arcade (do those even still exist?) or heading to a sportsbook to get six hours of entertainment out of a few bets placed using the $20. If things go well, I walk away with even more money. If things go “poorly”, I have managed to squeeze six hours of entertainment enhancement out of a Jackson. It’s win-win for me.

Dano: The best way? I honestly have no idea. Probably going to the yard sale of an inveterate book nerd and walking away with 50 or 100 used paperbacks. Though a 30-pack of PBR is always a sensible value choice, too.

ISH95: A decent quality Manhattan with a friend. Ultimately, you aren’t going to get a lot out of twenty bucks these days, but you can take an hour or two to catch up with someone important to you that so often I at least don’t make the time to do.

Spencer: Gas for my car. $20 can get me more than half a tank, and that’s enough to get to any number of free greenspaces to walk/run around with friends or my dog and have a picnic.

Makakilo: My first thoughts follow:

  • Add beauty to my life – buy a colorful and exotic orchid.
  • Add appreciation of solitude to my life – pick a friend who can’t stop talking and invite them to lunch.
  • Add insights to my life – go to a used book store and buy a book that stands out as different and mysterious.

Justin: Well, during a time in my life where I was making minimum wage ($8.50) for several years, sometimes that would be my entire spending money for the week. Not a very fun time in my life, and I had other issues as well. (Thank gods for food stamps) I refer to that as “The Troubling Times” I am glad to say that now I am much better off and would probably spend the 20$ on whatever I felt like buying. I know, not the way you wanted this question to be answered…but yeah.