Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Ketel the Truth


Two of the most crucial teams of the 2023 season have been completely upended by pitching injuries. One is the Houston Astros, the other is the Arizona Diamondbacks. Unsurprisingly I empathize with the D-Backs more.

The Diamondbacks, if everything was going perfectly well, would be rolling with a rotation consisting of Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brandon Pfaadt right now. At the moment, Kelly is hurt, Rodriguez has been dealing with injury setbacks all year, Montgomery has a 5.68 ERA, Gallen and Pfaadt are good but are trying to keep their ERAs down, and Ryne Nelson and Slade Cecconi are only decent enough in replacement. It's kind of upsetting to see Zac Gallen this human after an incredible start to his career, though to his credit 'human numbers' for him are a 3.38 ERA and 35 Ks. 

The lack of steady rotation action has cost the D-Backs to this point, as they're in third with a 15-20 record, behind the surprisingly spry Padres and the eternally-impenetrable Dodgers. It's obviously not the end, as there's plenty of baseball to play, but it does feel like the rotation being less reliable is the source of most of the problems here.

I think it's this glaring because this team's still hitting pretty well. Ketel Marte has used the 2023 playoffs to ramp back up to stardom, and right now he's undoubtedly one of the best players in the game. He's hitting .307 with 17 RBIs and 6 home runs, is still a defensive favorite, and has a 2.4 WAR after a month or so of play. I know the NL MVP race is gonna be crowded this year, considering what Mookie Betts, Elly de la Cruz and Shohei Ohtani have gotten up to already, but Marte seems more prevalent than he's been in years. In 2019, when he started the All Star game, it felt like a breakout moment but you weren't sure if it was indicative of anything. Now Marte's building on a postseason run and leading this team again. 

All you really need to know is that opposing pitchers seem to have cracked Corbin Carroll, but they haven't cracked Marte yet. Hell, they haven't cracked Christian Walker either, he's hitting .280 with 24 RBIs and 7 homers. EVEN JOC PEDERSON'S HITTING FOR CONTACT. Every time a pitcher thinks they've figured this team out, somebody else can show up and pound something away from the fielders. Moreno and McCarthy are heating up,  Suarez is still good for some power-hitting. There is complexity and nuance in this lineup, and in the hitting. People like Randal Grichuk and Tucker Barnhart are positively affecting the gameplan here. It's just a complexity that I wish spread more to the pitching.

This isn't a balanced squad right now, and the hope is that as more people come into their own, or get healthy, then they'll get to where they were last year. It just feels like that's miles away right now.

Coming Tomorrow- If you can't keep Tyler Glasnow, trade for the exact same type of pitcher. 

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