To ask teams to play .667 baseball through a marathon season might be demanding a bit too much. Yet, .667 baseball indicated the team won two-out-of-three games, and took a series. That usually translates into a winning season, and post-season implications.
This far in a rocky beginning, the Diamondbacks have failed to win one series of the three they have engaged. Coming into Friday’s game with the Padres in San Diego, Arizona dropped seven of its’ first 10 games. Important elements of this team which were expected to help propel the Diamondbacks into a highly competitive team have failed. While the loss of center-fielder A. J. Pollock still needs to be calculated, numbers from principals are down.
First baseman Paul Goldschmidt, out of the gate in the opening 10 games, is hitting .216. Of his eight hits, three have been home runs, and Goldschmidt is known as a hitter who reaches the power alleys more frequently than reaching the bleachers. Catcher Welington Castillo, who led the team in home runs and RBIs in spring training, his hitting only .222 with no home runs. As a team, the Diamondbacks have scored 40 runs and their pitching staff allowed 57. In run production, that averages to a four runs a games. That is below the 2015 average of 4.5 runs per game.
If the high-profile, off-season acquisitions were supposed to make an immediate impact, that has not happened. To be fair, we’re only 10 games into the season, and there is plenty of time for results. Anointed as the number one and two starters, Zack Grienke, who opens the Padres series Friday night in Petco Park, and Shelby Miller have surrendered combined 21 runs in their collective, opening 21 innings.
“It’s just been 10 games,” right-fielder David Peralta told The Arizona Republic. “We have to keep working and keep doing all our stuff to get our confidence back. We have to control what we can control. We have to keep doing our thing and our pitchers have to keep doing their job and we’re going to get better. The more we play, the more we’re going to get better.”
If the Diamondbacks have an opportunity to gain their first series victory, this weekend would appear ideal. With three games against the Padres in Petco Park, Grienke is slated to go in the opener, Miller on Saturday, and lefty Patrick Corbin on Sunday. This trio is facing a Padres team which has been shut out five times in their opening 10 games, and scored one run during another game.
If the Diamondbacks are feeling the sting of a slow start, there are not alone. Teams which many thought would contend in 2016 are off to challenging beginnings.
The Houston Astros, a wild-card team from last season, have also dropped seven of their first 10 games. The New York Mets, the National League representative in last year’s World Series, lost five of their initial eight games. As well, the St. Louis Cardinals (5-4) and the Pittsburgh Pirates (5-5) were both playoff teams a year ago.
Despite their two initial start of marginal results, wins by Greinke and Miller and another solid effort from Corbin on Sunday, the Diamondbacks are in a position to immediately turn an early season frown into a contagious smile. Then again, this is all about execution.
FOR THE WEEKEND
Engaging the Padres, Greinke (0-2, 9.90 ERA) will open the series and draw right-hander James Shields (0-2, 4.85 ERA) as his opponent. For Saturday, Miller (0-1, 8.18 ERA) and San Diego right-hander Andrew Cashner (0-1, 8.00) are mound opponents. In Sunday’s finale, Corbin (0-1, 3.46 ERA) faces righty Robbie Erlin (1-1, 0.93 ERA).
Then, it’s on to San Francisco, three with the Giants, and an end to the current road trip. The Diamondbacks return to Chase field April 22 and open a 10-game home stand with the Pirates in a three-game set. The Cardinals follow with four, and the Rockies for three.