12 April 2010
It's only been one week of the season, but the Diamondbacks already are playing about as expected - very good offensively, and middle-of-the-pack in the pitching department. So far, the team is tied for the league lead in Home Runs at 12 (with the Cardinals), and is ranked second in Runs per Game with 6.83 (behind the Phillies). The pitching staff has an ERA of 4.00, which ranks 7th in the NL. The staff has done an excellent job in the K/BB department, as their 8.2K/9 ranks 4th in the league, and the 1.7 BB/9 ranks 1st. This gives the team a league-leading K/BB ratio of 4.90, well above the second place figure of 3.14 by the Phillies. What has hurt the pitching staff is the Home Run ball, as the Diamondbacks have allowed 9 through the first 6 games, which ranks third from the bottom in the NL.
On an individual level, Chris Young has been a bright spot in Week 1, batting .292 with 3 HR and 11 RBI. Kelly Johnson has also hit 3 HR, and leads the team in OPS at 1.426. Johnson has drawn 4 walks in the first week while only striking out once. A few Diamondbacks have started off slowly, including Conor Jackson (.200/.304/.200) and Adam LaRoche (.227/.292/.273). Mark Reynolds is only batting .150 after the first week, but has slugged 2 HR and drawn 4 walks.
The surprise of the pitching staff continues to be Rodrigo Lopez, who allowed only 1 ER in 6 IP in his first start, striking out 5 while walking only 1. Dan Haren and Edwin Jackson have each made two starts so far, and both are at 1-1. Haren pitched well in the opener, but struggled in his second start, allowing 5 ER in 6.1 IP to the Pirates. As usual, Haren has posted an excellent 13/2 K:BB ratio - he has led the NL in this category for the last two seasons. Jackson has pitched OK in both starts, but not quite as well as he or the team would like, allowing 3 ER in 5 IP followed by 4 ER in 7 IP. He helped his own cause in the second game with his first major league HR. Jackson is a good hitter for a pitcher - in 2004 with AAA Las Vegas, Jackson hit 8 for 21 (.381) with 3 HR. Ian Kennedy pitched quite well in his first start, allowing only a 3-Run HR to Scott Hairston in 5 IP. Kennedy struck out 8 and walked none.
Most of the bullpen has pitched well through the first week. Aaron Heilman has pitched three perfect innings so far, and Juan Gutierrez, Blaine Boyer, Jordan Norbero, and Esmerling Vasquez also have ERAs of 0.00. Bob Howry has struggled, allowing 3 HR in only 2.2 IP.
The big news of Week 1 was the injury to Miguel Montero. Montero has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee, and is expected to miss around two months. Chris Snyder will take over as the starter, and John Hester has been called up from AAA Reno to serve as the backup. Hester has hit .328/.377/.541 in the hitter-friendly PCL in his career, and should be fine as a temporary backup. The concern about Hester's offense is his plate discipline, as he rarely walks, and typically has a 3:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Week 2 has the Diamondbacks traveling to Los Angeles and San Diego for a pair of three game series. The team will need a 5th starter for the first time on Saturday the 17th, and Kevin Mulvey may have moved into the lead after pitching well in AAA last Thursday. Kris Benson will be making his first AAA start on Monday the 12th, and could be in line for a Saturday call up with a strong outing. Meanwhile Billy Buckner allowed 7 ER in 5 IP in his first outing for Reno, and Bryan Augenstein gave up 5 ER in 5.2 IP, making them longshots for a call-up at this time.