Weathering the storm is a term that seems to have a palpable meaning for fans. If the team can just weather the storm, things will be ok. In reality, it’s quite an incomplete sports cliché. Yes, a good team is usually one that can keep themselves afloat until the conditions turn back into their favor, but what happens after that? Back in April, Jeff wrote about how the Diamondbacks had looked to have weathered the storm that was their difficult first month’s schedule. He compared the team’s start this season to their start in a similarly tough April back in 2014. The 2014 team hadn’t been able to make it to the end of the tunnel with light in full view, instead posting a 9-22 mark by the end of their first month.
Included in that article was a chart with the projected winning percentage of the team’s opponents by month, similar to the simplified version I’ve supplied here. Indeed, it seemed that after having hunkered down in their basement, the worst of it was over. Though there were concerns about the rotation, the team was somehow 12-14 as the calendar turned, despite the pitching woes and tough slate of opponents.
May was supposed to be sunshine and rainbows. For a better team, perhaps it would have been. Looking back, using the current standings, Diamondbacks opponents had a combined winning percentage of .480 and a pythag winning percentage, a theoretical winning percentage based off of run differential, of that same .480 mark. But May was anything but a walk in the park. The team finished the month 11-17, good for a .393 winning percentage, and now June is off to a similarly inauspicious start – with the Diamondbacks having lost two of three to both the Cubs and Rays after splitting two in Houston.
June looked much like May to begin the season, a month where the Diamondbacks could add some buffer to their record before the slog of July and September. Instead, June is looking like the second half of the storm with May acting as the eye. Opponents this month have a .512 winning percentage and .499 pythag winning percentage – compare that to a projected .492 winning percentage before the season.
Yet here we are today, despite the weathering of the April storm unlike the 2014 team, the Diamondbacks are 26-36, the same mark the 2014 Diamondbacks were at through 62 games.
Where the team goes from now to the All-Star Game and trade deadline beyond that is anyone’s guess, but realistically, this team might be finding itself in an untenable position given their goal to contend. Baseball Prospectus currently puts the Diamondbacks playoff odds at a generous 1.6% compared to Fangraphs’ 0.7%. Though the schedule lines up for the team to have perhaps their easiest stretch going off pythag’s expectations – with opposing teams having a combined .474 pythag winning percentage between now and both the All-Star Game and trade deadline – anything but a stellar stretch of play will likely put this team out for good. The time might be coming for this team to look towards retooling itself for next season.
Weathering the storm is half the equation, a half the Diamondbacks were able to do. An equally important part is being able to capitalize when circumstances play in one’s favor. To this point, the team has been able to do anything but that. Once again, the team can perhaps see the clouds in the schedule breaking up. After this, however, there won’t be a third chance.
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