The most amazing thing to me about the Diamondbacks being in first place is that they are doing it with just one of their starting pitchers having a winning record. I wouldn't be surprised if they are the the first team to hold that distinction this far into a season.
Patrick Corbin is 9-0 and the Diamondbacks have won every one of his starts except one. The rest of the starters are a combined 12-22.
Ian Kennedy is 3-4, Trevor Cahill is 3-8, Brandon McCarthy is 2-4 and Wade Miley is 4-6.
How a team can be in first place with four of their starters having losing records is beyond me. Yes, the Diamondbacks are good in one-run games and extra innings. But still, the numbers are mind-boggling. Take the other two division leaders in the National League. The Atlanta Braves have three of their starters with a winning record.
Mike Minor is 8-2, Julio Teheran is 5-3 and Paul Maholm is 7-5.
And in St. Louis none of their five main starters (the pitchers who have accumulated the most starts) have a losing record.
Shelby Miller is 8-4, Adam Wainwright is 10-3, Lance Lynn is 9-1, Jaime Garcia, who is out for the season, is 5-2 and Jake Westbrook is 2-2.
Other factors play a key role in winning a division -- mainly offense, defense and having a good bullpen. But Arizona has had a shaky bullpen most of the year and several of their key offensive players -- like Miguel Montero, Cody Ross, Martin Prado and Jason Kubel -- aren't producing.
Throw in the injuries to Aaron Hill, Daniel Hudson, Eric Chavez and Adam Eaton, and it's hard to fathom that Arizona is atop the National League West. Especially with the starting pitching struggling outside of Corbin.
He won't be going to the All-Star game. He won't get any Cy Young votes. But outside of Patrick Corbin, he has been the Arizona Diamondbacks' most important pitcher.
He is Josh Collmenter, and he is a rock. There has been some talk this week, with Kirk Gibson even hinting on my show, that Collmenter could start Tuesday, but that would be the wrong move. Collmenter is way too valuable in his current role of long reliever. Collmenter is 3-0 in extra inning games. He went five strong innings in a 16-inning win over the Cardinals on April 3rd, giving up just one run. He did it to the Cardinals again on June 4th, going four scoreless innings in a 14-inning marathon win. And Wednesday night he threw two scoreless innings to help the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers in 12 innings.
Overall, Collmenter has a 2.86 ERA over 34 2/3 innings with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks. No relief pitcher has thrown as many innings -- not Brad Ziegler, not David Hernandez, not Matt Reynolds. No one. Collmenter is no specialist, he can pitch to lefties or righties, can go one inning or five innings. Throw in the fact that Arizona has played 10 extra inning games and has 19 come-from-behind victories, and you realize that these D-backs are in a lot of close games. Not having Collmenter available out of the bullpen because he is pitching every 5th day is a no-win situation. Sure he can spot start for a couple of games, but you better hope you don't need him in the games he is not starting in. It just doesn't seem worth it.
Collmenter doesn't get the glory. He doesn't light up a stat sheet. But there is not a team in baseball that wouldn't want him on their side.
There's no question Ian Kennedy has it coming. He'll get handed a massive suspension for his role in Tuesday night's melee and he's clearly earned it.
I don't think he meant to hit Yasiel Puig period, but he did. I don't think he meant to hit Zack Greinke in the head but that's clearly where that pitch was screaming towards. What he meant to do is irrelevant, what he did is at hand and throwing at Greinke's head in that circumstance after everything had happened is worthy of the a lengthy punishment.
What I'm trying to come to terms with -- and frankly I don't know the answer to the question yet -- is what this says about Kennedy. He led the National League in hit batters last year and leads that category this year. Does that make him the ultimate teammate? Dirty? Or both? Or neither; maybe that stat is just indicative of a lack of control.
Perhaps he's the baseball equivalent of what Danny Ainge used to be; the guy you love when he's on your side and the one you hate when he's anywhere else.
To speak with Kennedy personally you'd never believe he's "that" guy. Given the fact this is now three straight seasons where Kennedy has been involved in extra-curricular activity with the Dodgers makes you wonder. Is it reality or reputation?
The other issue stemming from Tuesday night is the role of the coach. Whether it's Mark McGwire or Don Mattingly. Alan Trammell, Matt Williams or Kirk Gibson, the role of the coach here is to take a situation that is a DEFCON 3 and scale it back to a 4, not amplify it to a 2.
Kennedy deserves to have the hammer fall but so do McGwire, and to a lesser extent Mattingly, for taking a bad situation and making it worse.
Memo to Notre Dame: take this pitchfork and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.
That is exactly what ASU Athletic Director Steve Patterson told Notre Dame when they attempted to cancel their game at Sun Devil Stadium set for November 8, 2014.
Now, Notre Dame being Notre Dame they just assumed they could write a nice little check and ASU could go on their Sparky way and find some low level opponent to take their place. But Patterson put his foot down and his legal team to work, and most importantly stood firm. He basically told the Golden Domers that they will not be cancelling the game, that there will be no handing over of a check with an apology and that they will be playing in Tempe.
You see, ASU had a contract that said the only way the game could be cancelled was through an Act of God. There was no buyout clause.
Notre Dame, which dropped Michigan and Purdue that same year in an effort to appease their contract with the ACC just figured ASU would follow suit.
But as Lee Corso says, "Not so fast my friend".
Patterson was having none of it. That is an important home game for the Sun Devils and the community. They will sell out Sun Devil Stadium, restaurants and hotels will be packed. Merchandise will be sold. Tax money generated. Cars rented. By cancelling the game a lot of businesses and people would be affected.
Notre Dame, finally realized Patterson was no push over (Lisa Love), buckled.
ASU stuck up for themselves and their fans and the game will be played.
The return trip to South Bend in 2017 was cancelled, but who cares. That was not a money generator for the Sun Devils. They have plenty of time to fill that void.
Credit Patterson for not allowing the Irish and their pot of gold to step all over him and the Sun Devil family.
Truth is, I think the Suns roster has a few guys that might appeal to teams who are fringe playoff teams. It's a roster filled with good role players, which clearly makes for a poor basketball team when that's all you have. But one of those players, added to a roster that already has better, established talent and now you're talking.
It's not that I hate Gortat. He's fine, but not for the money he'll want in a year. It's not that I love Zeller. He's a guy with skills that I'm not sure translates in the NBA. But it's time for a reboot and to give the new GM some toys to play with.
I want to see what Ryan McDonough can do with a late lottery pick. That's where he seems to work his magic; finding the guys who can actually equate to value in this league.