Some shoddy offense on Tuesday night is the only thing that stood between the Dodgers and a perfect 6-0 homestand. Instead they will settle for just one loss against division-rivals San Francisco and Colorado. Coming up next for a quick two-game series are the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team capable of contending with the Dodgers right away, but otherwise have lacked that haymaker punch.
On offense, the Snakes stand as a middle-of-the-road team, hitting .246 (17th) and scoring 142 runs (14th). Their on-base percentage is impressive, standing at .320 (11th), demonstrating patience by their hitters to at least try to get on base. They are slugging .387 (16th), which suggests that they are not connecting for many total bases, something I fully expect to rise at some point this season, especially with the upcoming returns of Stephen Drew and Chris Young.
The pitching staff is poor for Arizona. They are missing a tremendous piece of the puzzle in Daniel Hudson, who they will get back at the close of May. Without him they have received 18 quality starts (19th), post an ERA of 4.23 (23rd), a WHIP of 1.31 (19th), and allow a BAA of .260 (22nd).
Infield: At catcher for the D’Backs is Miguel Montero, an offensively-reliable player, who could bring the Snakes to life in a pinch. His line of .270/.367/.360 shows that while he has been quite patient this season, taking more walks, he is hitting for less power. He is striking out more this season, which has done anything but contribute to Arizona’s cause. The month of May has been kind to Miguel, where he bettered an ugly April batting average of .257. He is hitting .316, but is yet to homer. Speaking of strikeouts, his K-less performance in his last game snapped a streak of 12 consecutive games where he was punched out. He is throwing out 29 percent of attempted base-stealers.
The first baseman is Paul Goldschmidt, who like many of the young-Diamondbacks is struggling terribly. He is posting a line of .227/.290/.351. He possesses the power to mash, and to be a key contributor, but has disappeared off of the radar. He began the month hitting .381 with five RBIs in five games. Since then, in seven games, he is just 3-for-19, an average of .158, with each of those hits coming in one ballgame, including his lone home run and two RBIs. The potential is there, but he will need to awaken from his slump to call to it.
Just two seasons ago Aaron Hill was a monster for the Toronto Blue Jays, mashing 36 home runs and 108 RBIs, hitting .286. This is likely to be the reason that the Diamondbacks swapped Kelly Johnson for him, but they’ve been terribly disappointed. Hill has a line of .244/.321/.415 this season, and will punish you if you give him something to hit. He is hitting .205 in May, and was even colder in the recent series against the Giants, going 1-for-11, an .090 average, hardly what Arizona expected from the potential-laden second baseman.
Yet again the D’Backs find themselves waiting on shortstop Stephen Drew, who is injured again, recovering from a fractured and dislocated right ankle that he suffered last July. His replacement, Willie Bloomquist has been anything but reliable, all but disappearing in the month of May, where he hits just .120. A line of .212/.262/.323 justifies his role as simply a filler. With Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley on the mound in this series, not much is expected from Willie.
Third baseman Ryan Roberts had an important year for the Snakes in 2011, coming up big time-after-time, especially against the Dodgers, who he bashed, hitting .320 with five home runs and 10 RBIs. After a terrifyingly slow start in April, Roberts has put it together, hitting .321 with a home run and five RBIs in May. His line of .202/.280/.309 may not say much on paper, but I heed a warning to give this guy some credit, instead focusing on the .321/.375/.464 line he’s produced in May. For some reason, Dodger killers just always know when to “get it together”.
Outfield: Here’s a player with numbers befitting of him. In left-field Arizona stores Jason Kubel, who came to the D’Backs from Minnesota (a former teammate of now-Rockie Michael Cuddyer, who we just saw over the weekend.) over the off-season. A line of .304/.386/.464 has been phenomenal, but how bad does it hurt when I tell you that it was his April that made him. Last month he hit .333 with the three home runs and 12 RBIs he still possesses. This month he is hitting .194, and homer-less and RBI-less. Beware though, he was 5-for-7 against the Giants, and may be saving the bulk of his production for the top team in the league.
Center-fielder Gerardo Parra is young, and with youth comes frustration, as his line of .259/.302/.398 shows. Parra has been serenely quiet in May. April was not what you would consider to be the best of months either, but Parra made up for his lack of production by filling other important roles such as stealing seven bases, where he has just one in May, which came on May 1st. He has a hit in all but three games this month, but has shown frustration, striking out six of his seven times over his last five games.
Perhaps the most frustrating player on this roster is Justin Upton, the team’s right-fielder and star player. Upton has the potential to be in the MVP-race each season, but hasn’t come close to even being considered for the All-Star team, posting a line of .225/.318/.342. He has not homered since May 2nd, which was only his third of the season, and is batting .200 this month. When Justin does heat up, he is blazing hot, and could spell bad news for opposing teams. Defensively, watch out for that cannon of an arm. He zooms it straight to his destination with no problem, keeping runners honest more than usual.
Starters: One of the two pitchers that tried to lure away a Cy Young award from eventual winner Clayton Kershaw was Ian Kennedy, tonight’s starting pitcher. However he is finding it quite difficult to replicate that success, having lost his last two outings against the Cardinals and Nationals, who are both in position to nab a playoff spot if the season ended today. Against the Cards in his latest outing, he was lit up for six runs on six hits in 7.0 innings. A little road trip might help him “snap out of it” as he boasts an ERA of 1.88 away from Chase Field. His record on opposing soil is 1-1.
Youngster Wade Miley could not hide from the onslaught of the Redbirds either, surrendering a season-high 10 hits, giving up three runs in 5.2 innings. Miley began the 2012 season with a 3-0 record and a 1.29 ERA, but has undergone a complete face-lift in his last two starts, going 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA. He has walked two batters in each of his latest three starts, and allowed 17 hits between the final two.
Closer: Wild pitcher alert! 35-year-old righty J.J. Putz is the final pitcher for the Diamondbacks, but has pitched anything like a closer having blown two saves, and struggling to keep pitches inside of the ballpark, having allowed four home runs in 10.0 innings of work. In three May outings, Putz has an ERA of 23.14, a pedestrian number that should ease the fears of Dodger fans if the team reaches this situation.
Monday, May 14th at 7:10 p.m.: Clayton Kershaw (2-1) vs. Ian Kennedy (3-2) – Prime Ticket
Tuesday, May 15th at 7:10 p.m.: Chad Billingsley (2-2) vs. Wade Miley (3-1) – KCAL, MLB Network – Orel Hershiser Bobblehead