In going 2-4 this week thanks to a sweep by the Cardinals and a bit of hospitality from the Mets, D-backs pitching was actually quite good; even without including the three scoreless innings Chase Anderson had washed away by rain, starters gave up 15 earned runs in 38 innings (3.55 ERA). That was nothing compared to the relief crew; in the same time span, the bullpen has held onto a 2.40 ERA.
That stretch was good enough to lower the team ERA from 4.75 to 4.56, continuing a trend; when April ended, the team ERA was 5.20. Baby steps. Or maybe it’s one of those “two steps forward, one step back” situations, because although the team’s pitching output has been a lot better, its offensive output has… not. In the last six games, the D-backs have scored more than three runs exactly zero times, averaging 1.83 runs per game. Not good, and not just a matter of getting one-hit by Adam Wainwright.
The D-backs have allowed 262 runs this season, 43 more (!) than the next-worst team in the National League, 5.04 runs allowed per game. Hopefully the team’s recent offensive performance is just a small bump in the road, but D-backs hitters haven’t had too much to brag about, either; at 3.73 runs per game, the D-backs rank just 12th in the NL, ahead of the Reds, Braves and Padres.
Be sure to check out Rod’s piece from earlier today — as I wrote last week, we’re adopting a different schedule so that the roundups aren’t our only output on Mondays.
- Last week, Nick Piecoro did a recap of a radio interview of GM Kevin Towers on Wednesday. This interview made the rounds last week for Towers’s comment that he wasn’t interested in being a “pseudo GM.” I was surprised to hear that Towers is hoping that Tony La Russa will “let [him] run the club as [he has] been,” what with that not working out so well. Clearly, something is awry in the eyes of the organization; otherwise, La Russa would not have been hired. It seems like Towers strongly believes that the D-backs are here because some things just didn’t work out; he doesn’t think it was a process error. Towers is absolutely free to believe that it’s not a process error. He shouldn’t be allowed to assume that it’s not a process error.
- Be sure to check out Jeff’s piece on Tyler Skaggs which is at Beyond the Box Score. Juxtaposition is fun.
- Using a second bullet for the same interview/link in the first bullet to address how Towers is “sick of hearing about” the role that sabermetrics can or should take in the front office. I’m not backing away from my own reasons for why I think the D-backs should hire an entire department for analytics (from the day before). If Towers “believes the Diamondbacks do more with analytics than 75 percent of the teams in baseball” (Piecoro’s wording) and that’s true, then there’s something wrong. Studying analytics doesn’t mean you’re doing it the right way, and without anyone steering that ship (an analytics department head), those kinds of errors happen. But we think the Diamondbacks are behind in analytics not just because they have no full-time personnel and other teams do; we think that because, other than some shifting, it doesn’t seem like the D-backs actually use analytics much. Towers thinks the D-backs’ analytics efforts are understated because they just don’t boast it. Wouldn’t “75 percent of the teams in baseball” do the very same thing? It’s just that when teams incorporate analytics into player evaluation and acquisition (like the Rays getting Ryan Hanigan in their end of the David Holmberg / Heath Bell trade), you can’t really keep that part of it a secret. But that’s just part. I want to say clearly that I know of no saber analyst that thinks that analytics can or should replace scouts. They/we police themselves in terms of what they should claim to know and what not. That’s why it’s pretty annoying to hear Towers discount their findings just because saber is the “mind-set” of “most of the media and the bloggers now.” Kevin Towers is a smart man, but he’d not be acting smart if he were dismissive of the work of other smart men without engaging with it. But maybe Towers is not exaggerating, and the D-backs are at the head of the pack in sabermetrics, and they’re just keeping it a big secret. Well… were keeping it a secret.
- ESPN’s Mark Simon published some hard hit rankings on Twitter; the D-backs pitching staff is 14th in the majors in terms of hard hit allowed average. D-backs hitters, on the other hand, have hit the ball hard at a rate that ranks 30th in the majors. Not good. This might explain some of the totals above, and without being at the very bottom of the runs scored per game rankings, it helps to paint a picture of a lineup that’s good at making contact and spraying the ball around, but not great at hitting the ball squarely.
- In the wake of blowing the extra-inning game against the Cardinals, Trevor Cahill told Piecoro about his discomfort with the smaller margin of error he faced as a reliever. This is something I’ll return to, I think. Piecoro also checked in about minor leaguer Jon Griffin‘s four HR in one game, which he extended in the next game to HRs in five consecutive at bats. Maybe we’ll hear Griffin’s name again…
Have a great Memorial Day, everyone!
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