Help Wanted

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been trying to hang on with the leaders in the National League Western Division. This series with the Houston Astros has shown that they just don’t have the depth to make a strong play-off run this season. That’s not to say that this team doesn’t have heart or talent. It just means that they don’t quite have what it takes to make it to the next level. The hitting and fielding are dramatically improved over last year and you get the impression that they can keep the team in any game. While the errors have risen slightly as the season has gone on, this team still ranks fairly high in fielding percentage and has committed a total of 64 errors ranking them sixth in the NL. Team batting average places them second behind the Dodgers. All of this factors into why the team is a game out of the wild card race and two games out of first in the NL West. So the question becomes, what will it take to make the next step to becoming a play-off contender? The answer is starting pitching.

Over the past several games the Diamondbacks have not had any of their pitching staff (with the exception of Brandon Webb) record a quality start. A quality start is one where the starter goes at least six innings while giving up less than three runs. In the past 5 games the starter has not even lasted six innings with some not lasting through five. This has a domino effect as the starters last shorter and shorter periods the bullpen is required to enter more games and pitch more innings making them over used which in turn leads to more bad pitches giving up more hits and runs. This was never more evident than the Houston series where the once strong Diamondbacks bullpen gave up hits and runs taking them out of both of the first two games at home. Now with Brandon Webb sidelined with a sore elbow there is even more turmoil in the pitching staff. Rookie Dustin Nippert was called up to face Roger Clemens then after the game he was optioned back to Tucson to free up a spot for another pitcher who could possibly start early next week. On Monday rookie Enrique Gonzalez will pitch on three days rest. This might not be too bad since he didn’t go more than five innings during his last start. Ultimately though, this is the kind of problem that will amplify and result directly in losses that can’t be made up. Should the Diamondbacks end up missing the play-offs you will be able to point to this lack of quality starts as the primary reason. We’ve got to do something before this gets further out of hand.

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