The Arizona Diamondbacks Have A Zack Godley Problem
By Randy Holt
In a week where the Arizona Diamondbacks got back two key starters to their rotation, a potential issue also continues to rear its ugly head. At least one Arizona starter could be clinging to a rotation spot by a thread.
Zack Godley had a brutal start on Sunday. In need of a win at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, the Arizona Diamondbacks caught another loss, and a sweep as a result. He surrendered nine hits, five walks, and seven runs in just four innings of work. He stranded only 53% of baserunners. Over 66% of hitters that he faced made hard contact. It was the ninth time this year that Godley has failed to pitch past the fifth inning and the fourth time he didn’t make it past four. For a starter that was thought to be a positive part of the starting five, that’s not terribly encouraging.
As such, Godley’s numbers on the year don’t paint a pretty picture. His ERA is up over five, at 5.07. He’s walking nearly five hitters per nine innings. His 4.87 BB/9 is up significantly from 3.08 last year. Strikeouts are down a touch, at 8.97 per nine, down about 0.6. He’s giving up more linedrive and flyball contact, with his hard hit rate up over five percent from last year, at 37.7%. Godley ranks 26th among 87 qualifying starters in the amount of hard contact he’s surrendered.
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Perhaps more concerning is the fact that Godley’s velocity is down across the board. His two-seamer that he relies on so much is averaging 90 MPH, down two MPH from last year. His cutter is also down into the sub-90s, whereas it sat at 90 or 91 in his previous big league time. A velocity dip, combined with some command issues doesn’t bode well for him moving forward.
The lack of command is more evident in the fact that he’s not getting the swings outside of the strike zone that he got last year. He’s only inducing swings outside the zone at a rate of about 28%. Overall swings against him, at 41.8%, are down as well. Whiffs are down three percent, at 10.9%. This is while contact is up about four percent, at 73.9%. It all culminates in the pitcher that we’ve seen find significantly less success than he did in 2017. He’s not only walking more, but he’s getting tagged with hard contact far more often.
So what is it exactly that is plaguing Zack Godley? He’s not a power pitcher, but has to rely on his skill set in order to generate groundball contact and some whiffs in the lower parts of the strike zone. That’s what the point of the sinker/cutter/change combination is. That hasn’t been the case this year. Struggling with his command has eliminated his ability to use that arsenal effectively. And until he can regain his command, we should probably expect to see him to continue to get hit hard in the way that he has been. Even more unfortunate? Starts like Sunday’s tax the bullpen more than you’d like to see.
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about Zack Godley’s issues. But after a string of a three-or-so decent starts, he hit that wall on Sunday night. At the same time, he’s going to continue to get opportunities to figure it out. It’s difficult to think his spot in the rotation is in danger at this point. Could it be a sign of exhaustion? He does appear to be laboring through a number of his starts. Perhaps once Clay Buchholz returns, Godley hits the disabled list with a phantom injury. Just to get him and his body right.
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The Arizona Diamondbacks don’t have a wealth of options to step in for Godley at this point. Clay Buchholz could grab his spot back from Godley when he returns from the DL. But for the time being, Godley is here to stay. The Snakes just have to hope that the command will return and he’ll get back to what made him such an effective piece last year, and at the very beginning of 2018.