When the Arizona Diamondbacks signed starting pitcher Rodrigo Lopez, they did so knowing that he was a fly ball pitcher. What they didn’t anticipate was that the fly balls he would give up would leave the yard so quickly or so often.
For most of the season Lopez would lead not only the team in home runs allowed but also he would be the leader of that category for all of Major League Baseball. When your offense ranks towards the bottom of runs scored that tends to be a problem.
It would be bad enough if only one of your five starters was susceptible to the home run but it now appears that rookie Barry Enright likewise has a tendency to leave the ball up in the strike zone. This would not be bad if the Diamondbacks were pitching in Dodger Stadium or Petco Park in San Diego.
But when they are pitching at Coors Field with an elevation of a mile above sea level and Chase Field, which is the second highest field in Major League Baseball, it tends to put the Diamondbacks in a hole that they seldom can get out of.
The Diamondbacks find themselves in a similar situation the Colorado Rockies faced last decade. They stocked their pitching staff with pitchers who were successful in other places but happened to be fly-ball pitchers.
The less-dense atmosphere in their home ballpark meant a lot of high scoring games with the home team coming out on the short end for many of those.
Granted the introduction of the humidor did neutralize the game to a certain extent but the Rockies saw greater success when they drafted and developed ground ball pitchers whose specialty is the sinker.
Now Arizona is following suit considering introducing a humidor to Chase Field and also in Reno where their Triple-A affiliate plays. There is no doubt that this will have an impact on the game, the question is whether it will make up for the fact that they will still have fly-ball pitchers on their roster and in their minor league system.
Hopefully when the new General Manager is named he will take into consideration the dimensions of Chase Field as well as other venues and develop players who will have success at altitude rather than continuously testing the upper regions of the atmosphere.