None of this “0.1% chance of the playoffs” nonsense for the Diamondbacks anymore (per FanGraphs/coolstandings); at this point, even if the D-backs accomplished the impossible and ran off a 20-game winning streak, they’d probably still be in third in the division. The D-backs are in fact-finding mode, as they should be, and that’s changed the complexion of the 25-man roster quite a bit.

One fact: Chase Anderson has had quite a bit of success this year, even if there’s reason to think his ERA should be more like 3.91 than its current 3.06. Anderson may not have long for the rotation this year. After dropping from 104 game innings in 2012 to just 88 in 2013, Anderson could be kept to just 120 or 130 innings following the “Verducci rule” of increasing only 30 innings per season. He’s at 118.1 pro innings right now, and chances are pretty good he will be shut down after two or three more starts. There’s only one way to build up stamina, but even though the precise cause of UCL injuries may not always be a sure thing, I think the D-backs learned definitively last year just how disastrous it can be to force a pitcher to throw through fatigue (Patrick Corbin clearly labored at the end of the season with 32 ER in his final 36 innings).

But Anderson is definitely a find, the kind a team sometimes gets when it puts itself in a position to get lucky. A pitcher who can hold ERAs just under 4 is an above-average #4 pitcher. If Archie Bradley can slot in and do something positive at the outset of 2015, the trio of Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley and Chase Anderson becomes a decent quartet. With no very strong hitter likely to sign as a free agent this winter (where would you put him?), I see the D-backs’ payroll-clearing moves as a predicate to a run for a strong starting pitcher. They may not succeed, but with a somewhat improved Trevor Cahill and a steady Josh Collmenter in the fold, the rotation might not be the liability next year that it was this year. And no, I didn’t forget that Vidal Nuno exists, but he’d really have to show some results for the duration of the season to be included in the team’s plans.

It’s been almost a month since we checked up on David Peralta‘s hot start, and we will do so again soon to see if his underlying statistics still support his success. But success he is certainly still having; his 130 wRC+ puts him well above average in the game in terms of creating runs. A.J. Pollock may soon get a chance to resume his season for 6-7 weeks, and if “Action Jackson” is anywhere near the hitter he was for the first two months of the season, the D-backs lineup is looking (dare I say it?) pretty good for 2015. No, Mark Trumbo isn’t what he seems, even when he’s going good. But if he can be merely above average, a collection of he, Pollock, Peralta, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero and Chris Owings could give the D-backs six above-average hitters, even if just Goldy and maybe Pollock threaten to be well above average.

What if the six could be seven? We’ll return to the subject of Jake Lamb soon, but the rest of the season will also be an opportunity to see if he can be a productive major leaguer, or at least, whether two months is enough to know definitively that he’s not. Which is more than I thought a month ago:

Hey, at its core this is all about entertainment. And quite a few people got into the action on Friday:

More than 60 puns later, things seemed to get out of hand, but no stop was in sight (“by shear wool we will persevere, said @OJCarrasco_), and even those who resisted at first got in on the action.

But all good things must come to an end (or do they?). Next time, we’ll use a hashtag? 

On to the links:

  • Last Tuesday, Nick Piecoro addressed the elephant in the room: saving a whole bunch of money in payroll obligations in order to reinvest in the club is nice, but it still really depends on how the D-backs actually spend it. Good reminder about how big pitching contracts seldom work according to plan. I’m probably not alone in this sentiment: there seems to be little point in signing another Bronson Arroyo. Results not guaranteed, but if there isn’t some ceiling, what’s the point of trying? It might cost $20M/year to go from “Randall Delgado” to “great,” but give me Delgado before dedicating yet another rotation spot to “just ok” guy who costs as much per year as Martin Prado did (also known as “Arroyo money”). Easier said than done, of course. But if Scherzer or Lester or Shields are not in the cards (which could be because their required salaries are just too big for Arizona to smartly justify), I’d rather get a problematic second- or third-tier guy with ceiling (Brandon Morrow, anyone?) than a pitcher who at best promises to be below average.
  • The predominant national storyline in the last week on the D-backs wasn’t about them being bad. It was about throwing at Andrew McCutchen after Ernesto Frieri ended Paul Goldschmidt’s season. Tony La Russa put on his old manager’s hat and deflected criticism toward himself with comments about how the team should not be “catching [    ]” about retaliation. As Jeff Wiser detailed last week, the situation is a little more complicated than others may make it seem, but that doesn’t make it any less stupid. At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan also offered a reasoned look at the D-backs beanball war, and thought TLR’s reaction was also more on point than most national media may have taken it. Money quote: “This year, the Pirates have thrown about 3,300 inside fastballs. That doesn’t just lead baseball — that leads baseball by just about 600.” La Russa is no dummy. Both Jeffs nailed it, in my estimation (something I say a lot around here).
  • From Steve Gilbert, a couple of particularly great updates: Tuffy Gosewisch will be making more starts, and Daniel Hudson looked good in rookie league. The Tuffy thing I understand; even if the D-backs see him only as a backup, the onus is on him to prove that he should be the 2015 backup. Once again, that’s what the rest of the season is for. As for Hudson — how great would it be if he were back throwing 93 in MLB games, even if just in relief. I have no idea what they’ll do with Hudson next season, and it’ll depend in part on what happens over the next two months. But as Jeff W and I were discussing yesterday, some kind of hybrid role of regular long appearances would be most welcome, if starting doesn’t seem like a good bet and if they can make it work. Maybe a Collmenter/Hudson combo once every five days, with both guys available for short relief on two days’ rest?
  • At Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch notes that Mark Trumbo being a big bat for the rest of the season would make the season’s final games much more interesting. Hey, Adam Eaton just hit the DL again, so there’s that. I would definitely like to see Trumbo do what he does, but I’m still hung up on the fact that he’s at first base. It’s definitely best for the team in terms of winning games in 2014, but after all we heard in the spring about how his defense in left would improve with regular reps… why wait for that adjustment to happen in 2015? I know the team is banking on making a run next year, but if that’s going to work, every little bit is going to matter.
  • We use a handful of stats regularly at this site. RE24 is dear to my heart, especially for relievers, and Jeffrey Bellone illustrated RE24 for us last week. We also use FIP and xFIP frequently, although I’m probably going to be moving to SIERA more and more. But wRC+ is the mother of all hitting stats for us here; check out Neil Weinberg’s recent explanation over at FanGraphs.

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4 Responses to Roundup: Roster Shuffling; Anderson and Peralta Dominate; Who Put the Lamb?

  1. Puneet says:

    Well if Trumbo doesn’t work out this year, KT might be “on the lamb” in 2015. (Yes I realize the spelling is different, but so many puns were already used up in that Twitter exchange.

  2. […] real deal, or at least a fringe-average starter at third base. In the meantime, we can have some fun with Lamb puns, and remind ourselves of what Jeff Wiser has already written on what to expect from […]

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