Points of optimism five weeks into the season
The Diamondbacks have won four straight immediately following a six-game losing streak. They’re now right back in the thick of things: Arizona is16-18 and only one game back in the NL West. This week is a big one, with divisional series against the Rockies and Giants. Here are three points of optimism going forward:
- Frontline starters pick it up
Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin all had good starts in Atlanta this past weekend. Greinke continued to strike batters out, and he had a career-high five consecutive strikeouts. He still gave up a good amount of hits, but he kept the damage down only giving up two runs in seven innings of work. He’s struggled for much of the season, but he might be back on track after consecutive solid starts.
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Miller had the most encouraging start of the weekend. He wasn’t 100 percent sharp, but he limited damage when he got in trouble in the second inning– when he had the bases loaded and none out. He limited baserunners in general, with only six runners reaching base in the six innings he pitched. Also, his fastball velocity was more consistent at 93-95 mph; he had previously been sitting in the lower-90’s.
Corbin had the best overall start with seven shutout innings. He only gave up five hits and one walk which is nice to see after a couple of starts with lots of walks which is uncharacteristic of Corbin.
That is two good starts in a row for Corbin, and he will look to keep that up this week against the Giants at home.
Lastly, I would really like to point out the hitting from these guys this weekend. Corbin had a huge RBI triple, and Miller got his first hit of the season. It may have been against the Braves, but the Diamondbacks will take it.
2. Brandon Drury staying hot
Brandon Drury has been on fire the past two weeks even with all the position changing he has to deal with. Drury has been a super-utility guy playing right field, left field,
second base, and third base. He has mainly been playing one of the two corner outfield positions recently. He should stay in the outfield because Jake Lamb looked very good this weekend.
Drury is in the top five of just about every rookie offensive category, and could be in the running for Rookie of the Year. It is still early, but if Drury keeps up his .338/.348/.677 slash from the past two weeks, he could be a big upset in one of the best rookie classes in history.
The biggest obstacle for Drury will be his adjustments at the plate, because the word is now out on Drury and his ability to crush inside pitches. He has been working on hitting the ball to right field in batting practice, according to Bob Brenly and Steve Berthiaume. These adjustments will be key to just staying in the lineup.
Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson, and Brad Ziegler at the back-end of the bullpen look really good right now. Saturday was a showcase of what Chip Hale wants to see out of his starters (Shelby Miller) and then to the finish line with the bullpen. Clippard, Hudson, and Ziegler gave up no hits in three innings to finish the game. Hudson has given up one run in 14.2 innings this year, and Clippard got back on track Friday and Saturday with two innings of total work with no runs allowed.
This is an interesting back-end of the bullpen: With a fly ball pitcher in Clippard, a power pitcher in Hudson, and a side-armer in Ziegler. This looks to be one of the most unusual– and effective– bullpens in the league.