Arizona Diamondbacks – a tale of two pitchers
By Mark Brown
Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, two pitchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks, hardly lived up to pre-season expectations
When the Arizona Diamondbacks finalized their two high-profile, off-season transactions, the expectation was one would piggy-back off the other.
That way, the combination of Zack Grienke and Shelby Miller could likely extend winning streaks, or act to as stoppers. If the Arizona Diamondbacks forged a modest winning streak of two or three games, the prospect that wins from Greinke and Miller, in back-to-back starts, would prolong such a streak and position the team to create separation in the National League West.
As the season unfolded, the opposite transpired.
For starters, Miller spent part of his summer banished to the minors and Greinke landed on the disabled list for a month and one-half. Miller managed only two wins all season, and both were on the road. Greinke has been inconsistent and his ERA, over four runs per nine innings, is far from the value of $206 million Arizona decision-makers envisioned.
The end result was disappointment.
Greinke and Miller have combined for back-to-back wins only once this season. That was during early May. Greinke beat the Braves in Atlanta 7-2 on May 6 and Miller came back the next day and beat the Braves, 4-2. Miller’s other win was against the Phillies June 20 in Citizens Bank Park. Since, Miller is 0-6 with a season ERA of 7.10
Greinke has been susceptible to the home run ball, and when he does not have command of his fast ball, that pitch becomes ordinary. After dropping his second decision to the Dodgers in 10 days last Friday night, Greinke allowed 22 home runs this season. Only lefty Patrick Corbin (24) allowed more on the Diamondbacks staff
In concert with a winning record of 12-7, Greinke continues to tell reporters that the pitches he makes are quality, but in recent outings, he tends to be too fine. Whether Greinke is trying to extricate the Diamondbacks from the demons of the current season and be perfect, that is rarely possible. When Greinke misses, he tends to miss up in the strike zone, and thus a principal reason for yielding a plethora of home runs.
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Against the Dodgers in Los Angeles on Sept .5, Greinke allowed a career-worst five home runs in that one. During his very next start against San Francisco, he surrendered a lead-off homer to the Giants’ Dernard Span, and then dropped a 3-2 to the Dodgers against last Friday night in Chase Field.
Throughout his previous starts, Greinke run into trouble early and his teammates, despite lethal bats, could not pick up their starter.
“I got into some trouble early in the game,” Greinke told the AP after his start Friday night. “By then, it was just about too late. After the first couple of batters, I did as well as I could do.”
If Greinke has difficulty at the start of games, Miller seems to hit the wall during an encounter. Against the Rockies on Sept. 12, Miller retired the first nine Colorado hitters in order and then proceeded to allow six runs over the next two innings. In his next start against the Dodgers last Saturday, Miller again allowed four runs in 5.1 innings and took his 12th loss of the season.
Against the Dodgers on Sept. 17, a two-run homer from Joc Pederson in the fourth innings was the defining hit. As with many of his outings this season, Miller failed to give manager Chip Hale any length to his start.
“Thought I made a good pitch on the home run,’ Miller told AP after the Sept. 17 game. “It was down and in. Right where I was trying to hit my spot and he just basically got a good swing on it. Tough outing.”
At this point, Greinke and Miller once considered the lightning rods to post-season dreams, now limp, with the rest of their teammates, to the finish line.
The Arizona Diamondbacks now embark on their final road trip of the season. They start in San Diego, and have three with the Padres
On Monday night, look for Braden Shipley (4-3, 5.36 ERA) to go against the Padres’ righty Paul Clemens (3-5, 4.94). On Tuesday night, it’s Archie Bradley (7-9, 5.07) against lefty Christian Friedrich (5-10, 4.78). In the finale Wednesday night, Zack Greinke (12-7, 4.42) opposes righty Luis Perdomo (8-9, 5.68).
Some numbers for notable at-bats. Against Greinke, Jon Jay is 9-for-32 (.281), Yangervis Solarte is 3-for-19 (.258), and Derek Norris is 6-for-21 (.286). Against Bradley, Wil Myers is 1-for-8. Against Friedrich, Welington Castillo is 0-for-7, Paul Goldschmidt is hitting .429 (3-for-7), and Jean Segura is batting .222 (2-for-9). Against Perdomo, Jake Lamb is 2-for-7 (.286), Brandon Drury is 3-for-7 (.429), Goldschmidt is 3-for-8 (.375), and Segura is 3-for-6 (.500).
Around the Foghorn
Then on to the east coast. Here, they’ll engage the Baltimore Orioles for three in inter-league play and conclude their road season with four against the Nationals in Washington. The team finishes the season at home and a three-game set against the Padres on Sept 30, Oct. 1 and 2.