Diamondbacks Team Preview - Battle for Last Place

Thanks to the Brewers sweeping the Diamondbacks the Dodgers are no longer in last place. To remain out of last place they will need to win at least two games in this series. The Diamondbacks are struggling having lost seven of their last ten games. The pitching has been the main culprit as the Diamondbacks are dead last in FIP (4.96), second to last in ERA (5.49), and thirteenth in xFIP (4.37). Even with Justin Upton struggling the Diamondbacks are doing just fine offensively thanks to the contributions of newcomers Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson. If you read the TSL of the offense you will notice that this team walks a lot. They don't lead the league in walks but they are third best with 124.

We first checked out the Diamondbacks back on April 12th when the season was still fresh, and both teams had not yet asphyxiated from their high aspirations. Brandon Webb is still not in sight and the longer he's out the longer the odds are that the Diamondbacks reach the post-season.

Position Breakdown

1st Base- Adam LaRoche decided not to wait until the 2nd half this year to kick his game into gear. His TSL of .264/.366/.500 yields a wOBA of .376 which is good for 4th place among NL 1st baseman.

2nd Base- Kelly Johnson is out of his mind at the moment with 10 home runs which is only six shy of his career high of 16. If Mr. Utley was not in the NL he'd be the best hitting 2nd baseman right now with a crazy wOBA of .442. He's doing it all.

SS -Stephen Drew  is also off to an excellent start with a TSL of .287/.358/.472 and a wOBA of .367. This puts him behind only Hanley Ramirez so far. Safe to say the DP combo of Kelly Johnson/Steven Drew has been the best offensive DP combo in the NL.

3rd Base - Throw in Mark Reynolds and you could argue the Diamondbacks have the best hitting infield in the NL. Reynolds average has dropped as expected but he has kept the power mojo in full throttle.. TSL of .236/.356/.541 shows off his power/patience combination. The true three outcome player with a K rate at 34%.

C -  Chris Snyder took over the starting gig when Miguel Montero went down the last time the Dodgers faced the Diamondbacks. The offense has not missed a beat with Snyder behind the plate. His TSL of .243/.379/.486 is plenty good enough to make me jealous of the days when Russell Martin had more then patience in his arsenal.

CF - After several years of falling short of expectations Chris Young is having his best season to date. His BABIP is a little high for him at .356 but for now the hits are falling in. TSL of .293/.357/.466. He's right there with Matt Kemp this year.

RF - While it seems every Diamondback is putting up offensive numbers better then expected the best player on the team, Justin Upton is not. The K rate of 36% tells some of the story for the low batting average but even when he puts wood on the ball not much is happening. A Slug% of only .387 for Justin Upton?

LF - Conor Jackson was just activated from the DL today, so he'll be manning LF. The Ex ECR star was put on the DL April 19th, so they welcome back their starting left fielder.

Bench -Tony Abreu provides support at 2nd, SS, and 3rd base and every time they call upon him to start he hits enough to have a .350 average. They don't have a spot for him but right now I'd call Abreu the best utility player in the league with his ability to hit, and play above average defense at 3rd, SS, and 2nd.   Geraldo Parra is an excellent fourth outfielder who was filling in for Jackson while he was on the DL.

 

Starting Pitching for our Series:

Game One -Rodrigo Lopez -This is what I had to say on April 12th.

Much traveled Rodrigo Lopez will go in game two. Lopez has not pitched more then 14 games in the majors since 2006 but here he is in the Diamondback rotation. His skills are gone, and he may not be here the next time I do one of  these.

Yet here it is May 10th and Rodrigo Lopez is still in the rotation. So far he's been one of their best pitchers with an xFIP of 3.74. Dodger fans won't know what to make of him because he simply does not walk anyone as evidenced by his 1.79 BB/9 rate. His last game against the Astros was his best of the season going seven innings while allowing only 3 hits and two runs.

Game Two - Diamondback ace Dan Haren will go in game two and if things go as expected he will pitch great. Another Diamondback starter who knows what it means not to issue free passes he goes one step further with a 9.18 K/9 rate. That is the highest of his career if he can maintain it. TSL - 4.04/3.31/3.04

Game Three - Ex Dodger Edwin Jackson will be facing the Dodgers for the first time and he is in a serious tailspin. Edwin has given up twenty-one runs in his last thirteen innings but he'll be pitching at home where he hasn't had one of those blow up games yet. TSL - 7.32/5.40/4.51 show he's been extremely unlucky so far. Edwin still flashes a 94 MPH fastball that he mixes up with slider. The CB and Change are both thrown less then 10% of the time. 

Bullpen: Chad Qualls is still the closer but has almost lost the job a few times in the last month. If Juan Gutierrez had been any good when they turned to him to close Qualls may not have the job anymore. Qualls is toting a 6.94 ERA but his xFIP is only 3.05 so he has not been nearly as bad as it looks.  Didn't know much about Esmerling Vasquez  a month ago but since then he's proven to be the second best relief pitcher on the team. He's got a double digit K rate (10.24) and has done a reasonable job of keeping runs off the board. The same can't be said for the rest of the bullpen as  Aaron Heilman,  Blaine BoyerBob Howry, Juan Gutierrez , Leo Rosales, and LHP Jordan Norberto have all taken turns getting beat on.

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