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SnakePit Round Table: Gut-check time

The last week, and all to play for from the Diamondbacks

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at New York Yankees John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Predict Arizona’ final win total and wild-card position.

DBacksEurope: 86 wins and final Wild Card position. Just pure guessing and keeping faith.

James: Since DBE already said 86, I’ll be the optimist for a change and go with 87 wins and the third WC position.

Justin: I am writing this after the Reds’ collapse Saturday. I will go with 85 wins and WC #2.

Spencer: 86 and wild card #2

Makakilo: 87 wins and second wild card position behind Phillies. The key race will be between the Diamondbacks, Cubs and Marlins for the second and third wild card positions.

How problematic is/are the New York postponement(s)?

DBacksEurope: I think these players are pro enough and I do not think it will be any problem. If we don’t make the playoffs it won’t be because of a postponed game in New York.

James: It is certainly going to tax the pitching staff above and beyond the expectation when the team left for New York. That in itself could have a huge impact on how things play out. While I still expect the Diamondbacks to play postseason ball, they may experience a quick exit simply because the pitching staff is gassed from getting them there.

Justin: I am with DBE on this.

Spencer: So long as they avoid a double-header, I think it’ll be fine. If we end up the final wild card, we will have a quick exit as James suggests. But I like our odds if we get spot #2.

Makakilo: The race is so very close. The postponement(s) could impact which pitcher starts each game. Nevertheless, the outlook for the Diamondbacks remains favorable.

Would you rather face the Brewers or the Phillies in the wild-card round?

DBacksEurope: I will take the Brewers. That is a team with a terrific rotation but I am not too impressed with their batting lineup. The Phillies have Bryce Harper and you saw in the first game against the Yankees what a difference a world class batter makes.

James: The Phillies. They still can’t play defense and the Diamondbacks have the tools to exploit that with impunity.

Justin: Well, logic tells me the Phillies, but…. Revenge on the Brewers for 2011 would also be sweet. Revenge is best served cold. Or something.

Spencer: Phillies hands down. The Brewers rotation is scary and postseason tested. Philly is an all or nothing option. Plus, Atlanta being the next step is huge. Fried has a blister, Morton just went down too. The path through Philly is easier than the path through Milwaukee.

Makakilo: I’d rather face the Phillies. Based on ERA+, the Brewers have the better top-3 starters (Woodruff, Miley, and Burnes vs Sanchez, Wheeler, and Suarez). From 1-23 September, the Brewers’ batters have a better OPS (.779 vs .764), but not by much.

Oh, no - Brandon Pfaadt sucks again. Why does Arizona have so much trouble developing starting pitchers?

DBacksEurope: I have no idea and am anxious to hear what James has to say about this. My guess is: Amarillo and Reno don’t help.

James: Brandon Pfaadt is a hard-throwing extreme flyball pitcher. That he surrenders home runs at a prolific rate is not remotely surprising. You know who else gave up tons of home runs? Curt Schilling. He led the league in giving them up. He, however, had amazing control and didn’t give up free passes, which meant most of the blasts against him were solo shots. Pfaadt went into New York and faced the most prolific home run hitter of the last decade. It is hardly surprising that he surrendered two more long balls. The more amazing thing to me is that they didn’t go into orbit.

As for developing pitching, I would disagree to an extent. Pfaadt is overachieving his expectations, despite his troubles. Henry, Nelson, Jarvis, Cecconi, and Jameson have all established themselves as pitchers capable of performing at the MLB level. No, they aren’t aces. Of all those names, Jameson was the most likely to have a TOR ceiling and Cecconi likely the second-most. Injuries have hit them. Expectations have had to be tempered as well. The reality is, they drafted a slew of arms with MLB-level potential and they have reached the Majors. If they want to develop an ace pitcher, they need to draft ace profile prospects. That’s where the likes of Dylan Ray come in. Instead of targeting pitching in the last three seasons, the Diamondbacks took other, high profile bats instead. They were likely the right picks. It’s difficult to line up ace pitching via the draft unless fate smiles and the team has a high pick and the draft features high-end pitching talent.

Also, DBE is correct. Their AA and AAA homes are hardly conducive to developing pitching. They both suppress breaking pitches, creating an issue for developing beyond the fastball/slider combo, especially if the third pitch isn’t a plus-level change.

Justin: I have nothing to add and James is spot on, but I want to make a joke I did the other night in the GDT when this was brought up, “grumbles in Tucson Sidewinders parseltongue’

Spencer: Not much to add. James said it well. I’m not worried about Pfaadt. For every Carroll-like debut, there are 20 others like Pfaadt. Twelve months ago we were all bemoaning Tommy Henry and excited about Ryne Nelson. I feel confident most fans’ perspectives on those two have flipped since then. I’m willing to give Pfaadt at least another full season of MLB experience before moving on. I still expect a Mike Leake type career from him; never THE GUY, but always a guy.

Makakilo: James was on-target that the AA and AAA minor league locations suppress breaking pitches. Brandon Pfaadt’s 55% fastballs (4-seam and sinker) make it possible for batters to wait for a fastball and swing for the fences. 13 of his 19 homers allowed were on fastball pitches.

Are you confident in our bullpen yet?

DBacksEurope: Never.

James: Nope. The “reliable” arms are still pitching entirely too many innings in general and far too many high leverage innings in particular.

Justin: Can we resurrect Kim, Putz, Z all in their best seasons? No? Then, no.

Spencer: I no longer cringe and look away. Is that confidence?

Makakilo: Yes. Two statistics best tell the story of a bullpen that excels by only allowing weak contact. From September 1-23, the Diamondback relievers ranked #1 in two statistics:

  • .225 BABIP.
  • .152 (hits minus homers) divided by PAs.

Other stats that tell the same story are:

  • .271 OBP (ranked #3).
  • .344 SLG (ranked #4).

One pitcher who exemplifies that bullpen strength is Miguel Castro (and it’s easy to overlook him because he often pitches in the sixth inning). For details see this article scheduled to post Tuesday.

You’re the first astronaut to step on the planet Mars, What are your “That’s one small step..” words?

DBacksEurope: “That was a long flight to the desert”.

James: Not far off from DBE, “I grew up near Sedona. What’s so special about a red desert?” Either that or, “Humanity, James has left the building,” right before I turn off coms and enjoy the peace and solitude.

Justin: What is that thing? It’s….is it… OH GOD NOOOO, I….. -cuts out, static-

But in seriousness, I love space and would love to live to see the day we send a man or woman to Mars. Good night Oppy!

Spencer: “Dibs”

Makakilo: That’s one small step for exploring the unknown universe and one giant leap for colonizing Mars.

Justin: “colonizing Mars” Oh, gods it’s contagious.