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D-backs monthly miscellany

This article was going to be about the struggles of the
Diamondbacks’ bullpen. Then, I looked a little closer.

Take lefties Joe Paterson and Mike Zagurski out of the D-
backs’ pen and you’re looking at the second-best relief
staff in the National League. Leave them in it, and the D-
backs have the third-worst pen in the NL.

Paterson and Zagurski — the two left-handed specialists
that the D-backs have tried this season — sport 37.13 and
15.43 ERAs, respectively. They’re responsible for nearly
half the runs and home runs that D-backs’ relievers have
given up as a group. Paterson was optioned to Reno on
April 24 and Zagurski isn’t exactly giving himself a
foothold in the big leagues.

Nevertheless, here are the bullpen numbers that I was
going to present, I’ll just save you the corresponding
commentary:

• 4.66 ERA — third-worst in the NL

• Five losses — second-worst in the NL

• 10 home runs — worst in the NL

• .456 opponent slugging percentage and .787
opponent on-base-plus-slugging percentage — both worst in
the NL

With some longer, more quality starts, like the one
Joe Saunders had last Friday
, and the addition of a
solid veteran like Takashi Saito, the D-backs’ bullpen
should rebound to pitch to its former and expected caliber.

April in hindsight

The D-backs finished the month of April above .500 for the
first time since 2008. Their 12-11 record won them three
series and lost them four, leaving them in third place in
the NL West — four games behind the Dodgers.

Chris Young has now been on the disabled list for more
than half of the D-backs’ games with the right shoulder
contusion he sustained from crashing into Chase Field’s
center field wall. At the time of his injury, he was one
of the hottest hitters in baseball — trailing only Matt
Kemp in home runs, RBIs, batting average, and OPS.

Daniel Hudson — the fifth-hardest thrower among NL starters
this season
— is also on the disabled list with right
shoulder problems, except his has an impingement.

Bear in mind the recoveries of shortstop Stephen Drew and
the aforementioned Saito, along with the multiple games
Justin Upton and the 60-day disabled list status of
utility man Geoff Blum, and D-backs fans could make some
awfully positive “all things considered” statements about
their team. Indeed, the team has played quite well,
despite some extremely costly injuries.

Injuries aside, key bats like those of Justin Upton (.242
AVG; 5 RBIs), Paul Goldschmidt (.193 AVG; 1 HR), and Ryan
Roberts (.152; AVG .240 OBP) were largely underwhelming in
April.

May in foresight

Of the 10 series — including two two-game series — that
the D-backs have scheduled for May, eight are against
teams that have records of .500 or greater. They face both
the Giants and Dodgers twice and the Rockies once. They’ll
also see the defending Word Series champion Cardinals and
the historically-bad Royals.

With such a flurry of difficult matchups ahead, injury
recovery time will be crucial.

May was a good month to the D-backs last year. A really
good month, in fact. The team started their unbelievable
win explosion on May 14 last year and finished the month
with a 19-10 record — going 15-3 in their final 18 games
of the month. Such a spurt will be a lot more difficult to
pull off this year, given the schedule and injury
situations but, again, the month is critical to the D-backs’
success, with five divisional series matchups on
the schedule.

The pitching rotation will likely undergo some
transformation by the time May is coming to a close. After
Josh Collmenter’s significant struggles were overshadowed
by Wade Miley’s tremendous success and Patrick
Corbin’s solid debut
, the D-backs enter the month with
three southpaws in the rotation. Also, three of their
starting five are 25 or younger. There’s no telling how
things in the D-backs’ rotation will have shaken out 31
days from now, given Hudson’s recovery and Miley and
Corbin’s relative inexperience.

Upton, Goldschmidt, and Roberts (mentioned above) will be
vital to an upswing in the D-backs’ offense. Cody Ransom
can’t be depended on for production for much longer.

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