Despite some injuries that have really tested their depth, the Arizona Diamondbacks have been able to run out one of the better starting rotations in baseball this year, with a group that ranks 13th in baseball with a 3.92 ERA. With some returns on the horizon, that number has the chance to be better and climb a bit in the next few weeks. However, there appears to be at least one glaring issue in their starting five that could hinder them moving forward.
That issue is Zack Godley. After a strong start to the year that had Godley looking like a reliable piece of the Snakes’ rotation, Godley has progressively struggled throughout the course of the year. Those issues really came to light in Monday’s start against the San Francisco Giants; a start in which Godley was tagged for seven earned runs and failed to get out of the fourth inning.
This is the same Zack Godley that last year posted a 3.37 ERA and 1.14 WHIP across his 25 starts. The one that induced groundballs at a clip over 55%. That struck out hitters at a 26.3% rate and walked them only at one of 8.5%. And the same one who got off to a respectable start in March and April, with a 3.81 ERA and 1.41 WHIP.
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Since that point, Godley has progressively gotten worse. His ERA in May ballooned to 4.86, while his WHIP graduated from 1.41 to 1.65 from April to May. He gave up more hard contact (36.6%) and saw his groundball rate drop to under 50% (49.5). Not exactly a recipe for success. It all came together, or perhaps fell apart, in his start against the Giants on Monday. He was hit hard in allowing the seven earned. It’s the road where Godley has really struggled, with an ERA over 7 to go along with his 2.93 mark at home.
It’s difficult to deduce exactly what’s going on with Godley to cause such significant struggles, though. Swings against him are down, especially against the curveball that was an effective weapon for him last year. As illustrated in the link there, swings against the curve are down a full six percent. A pitcher who stakes his claim largely on a sinker/curveball combination needs hitters to swing in order to be effective. His chase rate is down about five percent, at 28.4%. Whiffs against him overall are down to just 10.5%, representing a three percent decrease from last year. Contact is up five percent, at 74.5%. Velocity is down just a touch as well, to the tune of 1.9 MPH on his two-seamer, which he’s throwing at an even 90.0 on average.
This is all very troubling for Godley and largely indicates a player who is struggling with his command. The velocity dip is interesting, and it would appear that Godley is working really hard early in starts to overcome some of these struggles. It was all on display in San Francisco on Monday night.
So where exactly do Godley and the Diamondbacks go from here? For a rotation that has already been forced to ride out Matt Koch and Clay Buchholz as options due to injuries, it’s tough to justify them removing him from the rotation altogether. It may be a matter of refining some mechanical things. It could force them to go as far as sending him the DL to get his mind right. Either way, Zack Godley has some troubling trends that are sending him in the wrong direction, something the Snakes can really not afford at this point. Even early in the season.