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Snake Pit Round Table: Back in the saddle

After another whiplash week, the D-backs are back in a wild-card spot.

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Are the D-backs good again?

Sam: They’re finally winning the close ones again. It really feels like the flipside of the 9-game losing streak, when they kept losing them. And they’re doing it when it counts, winning 4-game series against the Reds and Cubs. I’ll trade a loss to the Orioles for a win over the Cubs any day.

James: I think the team is playing competitively again. Whatever malaise had afflicted the team in their last slump seems to have been overcome. I honestly think that some of the current pitching injuries are holding this team back from being even better than they currently are. That said, the team still needs some considerable boosts in a number of places before they will be able to contend with the Dodgers, Braves, or other powerhouse teams.

Spencer: Sure. This is a development year. Ideally with serious notable progression. For the most part I think we’ve seen the fruits of Hazen’s labor this year. Although a little smoother to avoid a month and a half long slide would be appreciated from now on.

Justin: I think so, like Spencer said, this is a development year. I would be happy with just making the playoffs, with an eye on next year (especially considering where we were 2 seasons ago). Give our young guys a taste of being in contention into the final weeks and days of the season, if nothing else.

Makakilo: A window of contention is opening for the Diamondbacks. They play exciting (and good or better than good) baseball almost every game.

DBacksEurope: They were never bad: I have them below .500 in my pre-season expectations.

Dano: They’re doing just fine.

Despite reluctance last week, Jordan Lawlar got called up. Thoughts now?

Sam: It’s… okay? He hasn’t exactly wowed in the field or at the plate yet. I guess I see it as more of an admission that Reno isn’t the best place for players like him to develop.

James: I’m of the opinion there was still plenty for him to develop in Reno and that the team was likely better off sticking with what they had and then, if he continued to rake, calling Lawlar up for the final few games of the season once the AAA season was over. I think the DFA of Ahmed to make room for Lawlar increased the pressure on him to perform and to perform right now. The team is in a very tight race for a playoff position and, Lawlar’s struggles are not helping the team and are even worse than Ahmed’s struggles were. However, now that he is up, he needs to be playing every day, regardless of performance.

Spencer: I still think he wasn’t quite ready. But now that he’s up, I want him playing everyday, no matter what. He needs the reps and to be able to use this new level of pitching if he wants to follow Carroll to an NLROY trophy. Luckily for my hopes, the team jettisoned Ahmed (for good or ill) and there is no longer a backup. It’s Lawlar or Perdomo from here on out. The playoffs might suffer, but sometimes you have to lose the battle to win the war.

Justin: I don’t mind it. Good for him.

Makakilo: I missed a chance to predict (in the 3 September roundtable) that he would be called up. Three possible reasons:

  • Nick Ahmed’s DFA opened a spot on the roster.
  • Jordan Lawler was playing better than his statistics showed.
  • I under-appreciated the benefits of a September cup-of-coffee in the Majors.

DBacksEurope: The best should always play. If Lawlar is a better option than Ahmed, Kennedy, Rivera…then he should play. Baseball is a weird sport: the best don’t always play.

Dano: I don’t think that he’s ready, but I imagine the experience can’t hurt, can it?

We DFA’d our longest-tenured player, in Nick Ahmed. What are your memories of him?

Sam: All the web gems. It was like a nightly occurrence to see him do something special.

James: As much credit as he gets for his glove, I think he is still underrated in just how good he was defensively. He ranks among the three best defensive shortstops I can recall seeing, since the 70s. I truly do not expect to see that level of defense again in my lifetime, especially not in Arizona, where Lawlar and Troy are already heirs apparent on the middle infield. No offense to Stephen Drew, but Nick Ahmed is the best shortstop this team has ever had.

Spencer: Mostly the defensive wizardry. The franchise will look a very long time before they find another player on Ahmed’s tier of defense. Even at the end he was amazing. But I’ll also always remember Nick’s ability to lace a ball down the line. It wasn’t frequent, but man it was pretty when it happened.

Justin: I think everyone will comment about his amazing defense on this one. We were truly spoiled. How great would it have been if he played alongside Oralndo Hudson? I know that is a reach, but still.

Makakilo: Two Gold Gloves and strong defense. A few of his web gems are at the end of A farewell to Nick Ahmed.

DBacksEurope: He was one of the players I enjoyed watching. Defensive plays are one of the most beautiful aspects in baseball. He was one that mastered it, so to me he has been one of the best players all time on the Diamondbacks. I will never forget him and I am sure that within time he will be even better in my memories than he actually was!

Dano: I enjoyed watching Nick at times, and he seems like he’s genuinely good guy. I wish him well. That said, I’m glad he’s not taking up a roster spot anymore. It was time for him to go.

Arizona faces the Mets and Cubs next week. What do they need to do?

Sam: Win, but especially against the Cubs. Especially with the success they’ve had so far against the Cubs, those games literally count double in the relative standings. They can’t settle for “oh, we already won the series/tiebreaker” – it needs to be pedal to the medal against the Cubs and Giants. Sure, the game determining the tiebreaker counts more than double, but the other games still count double. If Torey wants to give folks days off, do it against the Mets.

James: They need to sweep the Mets and win the series against the Cubs, all without entirely exhausting the bullpen. The Mets are a bad team this season and they have thrown in the towel. There is no excuse to lose to them. The Cubs are better than their record would suggest and the Diamondbacks are still chasing them in the Wild Card standings.Winning the series guarantees that gap closes some.

Spencer: Bury the Cubs. Sweep both series if you can. As for the Mets… don’t give them any breathing room. They are a sucky team; treat them the way the Dodgers have treated us for a decade.

Justin: I haven’t been able to watch any of the games in the Cubs series, but looking at the box score and recaps it seems like we are already playing them as if it were a playoff series. So continue doing that. Even if we lose tomorrow (Sunday), and only win one game next week we will be 4-3. Don’t take the Mets lightly. They have nothing to play for except for being a spoiler. I remember several years ago the Orioles, who had a 90+ loss season, eliminated the Red Sox from playoff contention on the last day. It might have been whatever season Longoria (?) hit a walkoff home run to clinch for the Rays. I might see what season that was, if I remember.

Makakilo: They need to continue to play like they have recently. Per Torey Lovullo’s postgame comments after the third consecutive win against the Cubs on 9 September:

“...We played fast. We played aggressively. We played fearless and it showed up at the right times and helped us win the game….” – Torey Lovullo

Instead of looking too far ahead, the players need to focus on excellent baseball in each game, one game at a time.

DBacksEurope: I’ll stick to what I’ve been saying these past couple of weeks: as long as Gallen and Merrill Kelly lead this team with stellar performance, the Diamondbacks will win enough games.

Dano: We need to stomp the Mets, and we need to take at least one game against the Cubs.

With three weeks left, what’s your post-season confidence level? (1-10)

Sam: 6. They’ve done well for themselves recently, but I’m still worried about the Reds and their very easy remaining schedule of games. Here’s a list for reference of all the wildcard contenders’ remaining series after Sunday afternoon’s games:

  • Phillies (78-64): 4 ATL, 3 @ STL, 3 @ ATL, 4 NYM, 3 PIT, 3 @ NYM
  • Cubs (77-67): 3 @ COL, 3 @ ARI, 3 PIT, 3 COL, 3 @ ATL, 3 @ MIL
  • Dbacks (75-69): 4 @ NYM, 3 CHC, 2 SF, 3 @ NYY, 3 @ CWS, 3 HOU
  • Marlins (74-69): 4 @ MIL, 3 ATL, 3 NYM, 3 MIL, 3 @ NYM, 3 @PIT
  • Reds (74-71): 3 @ DET, 3 @ NYM, 3 MIN, 3 PIT, 2 @ CLE, 3 @ STL
  • Giants (72-70): 1 COL, 3 CLE, 4 @ COL, 2 @ ARI, 4 @ LAD, 3 SD, 3 LAD

Also for future reference, here are all of the tiebreakers:

  • PHI: Win over CHC (5-1), ARI (4-3), CIN (4-3)
  • CHC: Win over SF (5-1), undecided vs. ARI (1-3)
  • ARI: Undecided vs. CHC (3-1), SF (5-6)
  • MIA: Win over PHI (7-6), CHC (4-2), ARI (4-2), tie vs. CIN (3-3), SF (3-3)
  • CIN: Win over CHC (7-6), ARI (4-3), tie vs. MIA (3-3)
  • SF: Win over PHI (4-2), CIN (4-3), tie vs. MIA (3-3), undecided vs. ARI (6-5)

James: 6, maybe 7. The team’s magic number is 20 and they really should win probably 14 of their remaining games. The Marlins have 10 games left against Milwaukee and Atlanta. The Reds have five games left against Minnesota and Cleveland. If The Diamondbacks take care of business and beat up on the New Work teams and the White Sox, they should remain in control of their destiny. Any stumbles though, and they could be scoreboard watching the rest of the year hoping for assistance. With this bullpen, that is a very likely outcome.

Spencer: To make the bracket? 7.5 we are the best team in the wild card race. Miami is next best. Chicago has a bright future alongside Cincinnati. San Francisco and Philly have money to make themselves good again but neither team scares me.

Performance-wise once we’re in the games? 4.5 Gallen has looked mortal recently and all season on the road (obviously not counting the Chicago start). Kelly can’t beat LA. The rest of the rotation is young or peaked years ago. And the offense is not yet fully clicking the way they did early season. Can we win? Yes. Do I think we will win? Probably not. And I’ve decided I’m ok with that.

Justin: I will go with a 7. Thank you for that list and info Sam.

Makakilo: My confidence is 9 that they will be in contention when they play their last regular season series with the Astros. My confidence is 8 that they will play in the post-season.

The following table shows that the D-backs are hot (6-4 in last 10 games) with sustainable luck in 1-run games while the Giants are cold (3-7 in last 10 games) and the Marlins relied on unsustainable luck in 1-run games. The Reds and Giants are 2.5 games behind the D-backs, which looks huge on 10 September. Data from Baseball Reference and

DBacksEurope: 6. Relying on Gallen and Kelly is a thin line.

Dano: I guess I’ll say 7. That seems like a good number.


What is your level of playoff confidence?

This poll is closed

  • 2%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    (1 vote)
  • 12%
    (6 votes)
  • 14%
    (7 votes)
  • 34%
    (17 votes)
  • 22%
    (11 votes)
  • 12%
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    (0 votes)
50 votes total Vote Now

Which brand are you actually loyal to and why?

Sam: Soylent. I was a believer in the idea of optimized nutrition back in 2013 even before the kickstarter campaign. I love the drinks (especially Chai) and would drink them for most of my breakfasts and lunches when I lived in the US. Unfortunately, they aren’t available in Singapore, so I can only enjoy them when visiting.

James: I’m with Makakilo on this one. I think my brand loyalties are mostly with Costco and USAA, for the same reasons. These are two companies that provide quality products/service at a value price.

Spencer: Subaru. Best cars I’ve ever been in and have saved my life more than once.

Makakilo: Costco. A rare combination of high quality, low price, ample supply available for purchase, ease of purchase, and no-questions-asked returns.

DBacksEurope: I am loyal to many brands, because if something works, it is good enough for me. My longest relationship is with my bank: ING. If we think about a product, when it comes to sneakers, Nike is the second one. We date back to the mid 90s. But they are just two examples of many, like I said.

Justin: I can’t think of anything brand wise per say, so I am going to amend this and answer “What is the oldest appliance you have and still use?” I have a crockpot that my mom had in CT in the late 80s/early 90s that I still use occasionally. Actually, I am using it right now, I have a beef round roast in it with carrots, etc. I do have an instapot, but I just like using this. The brand name is crockery kettle.

Dano: Skippy peanut butter. For whatever reason.