The Diamondbacks had an interesting offseason, the details of which are in the linked article. In short, the series of odd moves and general talent level of the team suggested to Dave Cameron a 90-100 loss team. He, however, threw in the caveat about weird baseball. What's happened so far is a bit of weird baseball.
As of Monday morning, the Diamondbacks found themselves with a 14-16 record, which is not far from a winning record. The winning percentage is slightly better than what was projected before the season began, though. Fangraphs' system had them at about a .448 winning percentage, which is 72-73 wins. PECOTA had the Dbacks at 74 wins. Their current winning percentage of .467 would result in 75-76 wins over the course of the season. The team's playoff odds have basically doubled compared to preseason status, though an increase from 1.6% to 3.3% is nothing to go celebrate too much (Maybe a little). The point is that the Diamondbacks have performed a little better than expected, and it may not be entirely fluky. Fangraphs' BaseRuns record estimator has the Dbacks at 15-15, which isn't really different than 14-16 at this point. In the crowded NL Wild Card race, 14-16 is on the low end but not out of the playoff picture. What the Diamondbacks haven't done is take themselves out of the picture.
Paul Goldschmidt is one big reason why the Diamondbacks are where they are. That man can flat-out mash the baseball. A different reason that the Diamondbacks are where they are is the starting rotation. Before the season started, prognosticators noted that a rotation led by Josh Collmenter was not bound for success. The projections more or less agreed; each starter that has made at least one start for the Dbacks so far was projected for a 4+ ERA and 4+ FIP except for Daniel Hudson (3.84 projected FIP) and Collmenter, whose projected ERA and FIP were 3.88 and 3.95, respectively. The Dbacks have mostly outperformed projections so far.
Data from Fangraphs, so are ZiPS projections. Data current as of Monday morning.
|Name||IP||ERA||FIP||Projected ERA||Projected FIP|
|Rubby de la Rosa||37.0||4.38||4.02||4.40||4.27|
Anderson and Bradley are simply spitting in the face of the projections. Collmenter is solidly outperforming them. de la Rosa is kind of on target. Hellickson's FIP lines up well with his projected FIP, but his ERA is the big difference. The other two haven't thrown enough innings to say much, but their one-start samples are better than the projections. Then again, it's not like 39.2 innings is enough on which to base conclusions. This analysis is more about what has happened, not what will happen.
What will happen then? It's hard to say other than "they'll probably pitch closer to their projections" or something along those lines. Hellickson made a name for himself by posting a lower ERA than his FIP, but that ability seems to have evaporated in recent years. His BABIP is a very high .369, so maybe that ERA will come down. Bradley is still having difficulty finding the strike zone, but his homer-limiting abilities seem real. He can probably sustain a low ERA and FIP if he continues to limit home runs even while having a poor walk rate. Anderson and Collmenter don't have egregious BABIPs. Though Collmenter's strikeout rate is very low, his walk rate is even lower. Anderson might give up a few more homers. de la Rosa might give up fewer homers going forward but will probably see an increase in BABIP.
In other words, there's some good and some bad. Maybe they'll balance out, or maybe they won't. The whole point is that so far, the Dbacks starters have pitched admirably, and their team is hanging around because of it. It's possible that someone or multiple someones fall apart, in which case I start to think of some depth pieces for the Dbacks. Patrick Corbin appears to be doing well on his road to recovery. His timetable for return remains early June. Bronson Arroyo would be decent veteran depth, but he is not quite ready. He might make an appearance late this season. Suddenly, the Dbacks rotation could be considered something not unlike a strength after Corbin returns.
Then again, Collmenter got shelled last night. His ERA and FIP as of Tuesday morning are 5.27 and 4.32. Such is early-season analysis.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.