Slow Start Might Not Hurt the Arizona Diamondbacks
The Arizona Diamondbacks are off to a slow start, and that could hurt their playoff chances. After ten games they have a 3-7 record in this 60-game abbreviated season. The rotation has struggled to pitch deep into games. They are giving up too many walks. The bullpen has been used too much, and it shows with their performances. To add to their plunge, they are not getting the timely hits to lead to runs. Overall, this whole team is in a tumble.
Anatomy of Diamondbacks Slow Start
Instead of working as a team relying on one another, each guy appears to be trying to hit that big home run home or strikeout multiple batters to pitch that gem of a game. They look to be disengaged—and as we know that is not how baseball works. This team has to get back to execution as a whole team.
Through Sunday’s game the team is hitting at .192, which is in the bottom five of baseball. They only have two home runs and a slugging average of .265 and an OBP of .268 both in the bottom five. They also have struck out 82 times. Only Ketel Marte, Starling Marte and Christian Walker are hitting .300 or above. The rest hitters are below .250.
With the offense in a downturn, the whole rotation seems to have hit a wall as well. The pitching staff has allowed 49 walks and the ERA is around 5 and the bullpen ERA is well over six. Robbie Ray who is in a contract year, has an ERA at 8.64. He has as many walks nine as he does strikeouts eleven. Also, he has lasted a combined eight innings in his two starts. Luke Weaver also having trouble with control. His ERA is 14.73 and has allowed 3 homeruns and 14 hits in only 7 1/3 innings.
Their run differential of -25 is the worst in the majors. They have hit two home runs, less than half as many as any other team in baseball, while giving up 16. They have given up a league-leading 15 stolen bases as well. All of this points to a struggling team—and comes from a team that did not lack confidence and self-assurance when the season started.
Recovering from Slow Start
Players are prepared not to overreact to small sample sizes such as slumps, bad pitches or throwing errors during a 162-game season, but this abbreviated season is different and will require a short-term memory. This game is not unusual that the best teams can recover from a 2-5 week to a 5-2 or even 6-1 the next week. Last year the Houston Astros had multiple seven-game stretches in which they went 2-5 and they still won 107 games.
There is no need to panic. This team can hit and they know it. Players like Eduardo Escobar, Kole Calhoun, and David Peralta know they can hit and may slump early but will pull out of it. They may begin to worry if they go 0 for 15. However, with every team in a pennant race this year they can’t afford to worry about the moment and forget about their slumps. They need to realize it is more about the team.
Starting pitchers who have back-to-back bad games will need to put it behind them quickly and focus on finding a way to get the quality starts that will help an overused bullpen with rest. They starters need to shorten their pitch count and avoid the extra base runners, which leads to those extra pitches.
An early lead can go a long way. The Diamondbacks did that against the Texas Rangers last week. They got out to a 3-0 lead. You could see the team relax. A “believing we can or will win” can also work. Players start to believe something special is going to happen and keep chipping away at it. At some point, they are going to get that needed break.
Surviving the games against the Houston Astros will work in their favor. After Houston, the Diamondbacks still have a lot of time to make up ground against the easier teams on the schedule—just not as much as they normally would after ten games.
Assuming baseball can actually make it to the end, (although that outcome feels less likely by the day) this team can still recover and make a run at a playoff spot. With the expanded playoffs, a 30-30 record might get you in, but the team needs to go 27-23 the rest of the way to make that happen.
The team’s motto of “that grind-it-out mentality with that fighting mentality” is still present inside the clubhouse. We see it when the players do interviews. They just need to start applying attitude and bravado to the field and we should see some wins.
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