Let’s Start the Second half
With the All Star game over for 2012; we start the second half of the baseball season on Friday. Let’s take a look at some things the Diamondbacks need to do in order to make a run at a playoff spot. In this article will take a look at their upcoming schedule, their starting pitching and their relief pitching.
Schedule: The Diamondbacks second half schedule could be better, as over half their games take place away from Chase Field. They do have quite a few favorable scenarios in their remaining 77 games.
Facing a weak team like the Cubs to start the second half of the season will help; as the Diamondbacks look to keep the momentum they found last weekend when they won their last three games. After the Cubs the Diamondbacks travel to Cincinnati to play the Reds before coming home to play the Astros who have been struggling. Then the Rockies come to Chase Field. The Rockies have been battling the Padres to stay out of the cellar in the NL West. From that point, there are some “TUFF” patches along the way, including a difficult August in which several road games will be played; but the conclusion of the seasons’ schedule is what will be exciting to watch. 13 of their final 16 contests have them facing off against the Cubs, the Padres, and the Rockies, which should hopefully help them in the win(s) column and remain in contention. Even better, the Diamondbacks close out their season with the Rockies.
Starting Pitching: Wade Miley most certainly has pitched his way into the Rookie of the Year honors contention. He has been the Diamondbacks most consistent pitcher the first half of the baseball season. Miley did struggle into the All-Star break as he went 0-2 in his final two starts with a 10.45 ERA and just six strikeouts. That said, Miley was 8-3 with a 2.09 ERA in the 12 starts he made prior to that, with 62 strikeouts. Miley should be fine going forward. However he must remain consistent and not let the pressure of the team pushing for a playoff spot affect his pitching. Ian Kennedy certainly has the ability to be an ace, but has not been consistent to this point in the season. Kennedy will be the guy who needs to rebound after a shaky first half of the year. The right-hander has managed to win just one of his last six starts and has posted a 4.26 ERA through his 17 outings. That is a far cry from the 2.88 ERA he posted last season during his breakout campaign for the Diamondbacks. Kennedy was better in the second half of last year, posting a 2.11 ERA in 14 starts, so hopefully he can get himself back on track following the All-Star game. Despite his ups-and-downs during the first half of the season Trevor Cahill has pitched much better after his first month of the season and needs to be a staple in the rotation for the second half of the year. Trevor Bauer lived up to the hype last Sunday, tossing a two-hit gem over six innings to earn his first major-league victory. Bauer will remain a starter the rest of the year; unless he has a few rough outings. Let’s hope he is on the same page with catcher Miguel Montero. That leaves us with Joe Saunders who comes off the disabled list after a shoulder injury. He got off to a hot start in April, but has since cooled down in his last ten starts putting up a 4.20 ERA in those games. If the left-hander is able to get through his first outing to start the second half (without suffering a setback) he could line up as the Diamondbacks’ number two starter. Saunders will be needed, as he pitches a lot of innings and his veteran leadership will help the other pitchers. According to multiple sports outlets, several teams have inquired about him, with Baltimore being the most suitable trading partner. The only problem with this trade who would the Diamondbacks would get in return.
Relief Pitching: I will start with closer J J Putz. He has now recorded a save in three of his last four appearances and has finally seemed to settle into a groove. Putz has allowed just two runs over his last 13 appearances and has gone 1-1 with a 1.38 ERA and seven saves over that stretch. Putz will be counted on to pitch like he did last year when the Diamondbacks won the NL West. David Hernandez has not allowed a run in his last four appearances and has struck out nine during that span. He continues to be a great set up man for J.J. Putz. He has recorded 10 holds and has a 1.09 WHIP on the year as he continues to strike out batters at a high rate. In order for the Diamondbacks to keep the highly talented Trevor Bauer in the starting rotation there had to be one casualty and that is Josh Collmenter. The right-hander will return to his role as a long reliever but could see some spot starts later in the year. Craig Breslow has been a stabilizing piece of the bullpen that was much needed. Bryan Shaw has been the best in the bullpen with regards to inherited runners and will be counted on in the second half of the season to continue that trend.
In the second part of the article we will look at the Diamondbacks offense. I hope to see you at the ballpark when the Diamondbacks come home.