Nobody is going to panic. Nobody should ignore it, either.
A great pitcher got shelled. A good pitcher disappointed. A former All-Star gave up two runs in two batters.
Three starts will be so irrelevant by the end of the season if you assume Zach Greinke, Shelby Miller and Patrick Corbin will have good to great seasons in 2016. Even now, the D-backs are only one game below .500 after Patrick Corbin couldn’t salvage his outing Wednesday.
It’s completely fair to look at the starts of the first three pitchers in the Diamondbacks rotation and wonder what in God’s desert Earth is going on? At this rate, every relief pitcher in the D-backs’ organization will pitch an inning by Mother’s Day. The age old phrase “you can’t win the division in April, but you can lose it,” seems to loom large with the way Arizona’s starting pitching is performing. Although no one wants to hear it, staying slightly above .500 is a solid start because the D-backs’ schedule during April only needs to be survived.
Start with a divisional opponent that you play three times a week during the spring. The “projected” National League Champs are next followed by a 10-game intra-division road trip that includes both of the two teams predicted to be in your way for a divisional crown. Return home against two 2015 playoff teams (Pirates and Cardinals) and finish April with the same Rockies team you couldn’t handle at the beginning of the month.
Josh Collmenter’s value is at its highest in April when he can save a bullpen from an underperforming starting rotation that’s not stretched out for long outings. Collmenter is on the disabled list. A.J. Pollock was one of the best players in the National League in 2015. No one has a time table for Pollock’s return in 2016.
After winning the “Cactus League championship,” it sounds like a cop-out to hope for a .500 record in in April. If the Diamondbacks are truly the playoff team some predicted, they should be able to handle the adversity of injuries and schedule. Every April loss can easily be overcome, but each loss puts more pressure on games against the Padres, Brewers, Reds and Phillies. If Arizona struggles to break even against the upper-level teams on their early schedule, they must sweep the weaker teams.
Although we joke about everyone jumping off the bandwagon, in a football sense, Arizona is trailing early in the third quarter of the first game of the year. Doesn’t sound like a big deal when you look at it like that. The catch is, the star free-agent quarterback of our football team example has already thrown three interceptions in the first two-and-a-half quarters. We all assume everything will be OK but, truthfully, no one knows.
If our “quarterbacks” right the ship, we’ll all laugh about how the first game started. Right now, no one is laughing.