MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Hitting and Pitching
Before the 2015 season began, expectations for the Arizona Diamondbacks’ season were low. Projected win totals were between 65 and 70. Those projections were based on a suspect starting pitching staff and an unpredictable bullpen.
It is still early, but the revamped staff looks far better in 2015 than it did in 2014. The biggest difference is that the rotation is actually stringing together quality starts. They accumulated nine quality starts before a let-down this past Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Josh Collmenter, who struggled early, seems to have figured out what it takes to be a starter. He has a 3.65 ERA and keeps the ball in the park. We will see what he does in his Wednesday start against the CO Rockies. Archie Bradley has been outstanding with his pitch selections. He has a 1.80 ERA and the Diamondbacks have won all four of his starts. After taking a line-drive to his face we will have to see how long he will be out. Even Rubby De La Rosa seems to have focused his pitch selection; lowering his ERA and he continues to throw his fastball in the upper 90’s. Chase Anderson, up until Monday’s loss to the Rockies, was settling in with groundball outs and showing his change-up pitch. Even Jeremy Hellickson has made some adjustments with his change-up and showed good form during his win against the SF Giants.
The starting staff still has issues that need to be resolved; such as not being able to work past the fifth inning and giving up first inning runs, but the biggest hindrance to starting staff is the team’s offense isn’t producing the needed runs. The hits are there when the bases are empty, but they are still leaving men on base to end innings. Up until Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies; hitters had gone 3-for-21 with runners at second or third in their last five games. Their total team batting average was at .241. Not counting the pitcher’s spot, the Diamondbacks have the lowest production from their final three spots, posting a .486 OPS. (On base Plus Slugging percentage) and are hitting at a less than .190 clip. The Diamondbacks went scoreless for 20 innings before scoring a run in the fifth on Monday night.
No team has received less production from their shortstop this season than the Diamondbacks. Nick Ahmed has a .382 OPS and his batting average is below .150 with 17 strikeouts. He might be pressing a bit, but needs to be mature enough to know he has to be patient at the plate. He started the past two seasons slowly in the minors, but improved his numbers considerably as those seasons went along. Starting catcher, Tuffy Gosewisch, is hitting below .200 and has yet to have a hit for extra bases. Neither player is expected to be strong at the plate, but the Diamondbacks knew that when they assigned them starting roles. However, the coaches expected both to be hitting around .240 and have more than 5 RBI combined. Aaron Hill, with a batting average at around .150, has no homeruns and looks slow with some of his swings. And, Yasmany Tomas, who was given a $68.5 million guarantee for his expected power at the plate, has only managed five singles and one double so far this season.
Teams also have figured out to pitch around Paul Goldschmidt and face the bottom of the batting order. Losing Jake Lamb, who was off to a great start, has hurt this team as well. Lamb will be out for two to three weeks, leaving a gap in the team’s lineup.
The Diamondbacks will need consistent production from every hitter in the lineup and will need to improve their situational hitting if they are going to surpass the win total projected for them at the beginning of the year.
The Diamondbacks finish their home stand on Wednesday followed with a day off on Thursday and then have a six game road trip to LA and CO.
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