After getting off to its worst start in franchise history, the Arizona Diamondbacks are clawing their way out of the cellar and making a push for the .500 mark. In need of a major turnaround, May has brought a lot of pleasant surprises to the desert. In an attempt to either sure up the front office or to potentially shake things up with a few walking papers, Tony La Russa was named to the newly created position of Chief Baseball Officer. La Russa, who last managed in 2011, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series title, is now set to have all baseball decisions ran through him first before they are ever made. GM Kevin Towers has already told reporters that he feels his job is not secure, so look for more potential surprises to come this summer.
Another surprise appearance for the team in May was their starting pitching. After a brutal month of April, the starting pitching for the Snakes finally arrived and began stringing together quality start after quality start. In March/April, the team’s starting pitching ranked dead last in every pitching category with a combined 5-18 record and a 6.29 ERA. In May, the team’s starters have a combined 11-6 record and a 3.42 ERA. The five-man starting rotation of Miley, McCarthy, Arroyo, Collmenter and Anderson have been a steady ship for the D-Backs and have all improved from their numbers from the previous month and a half (with exception for Anderson, who has only started in May).
In his first six starts, Brandon McCarthy was winless (0-5) and had a 5.54 ERA. In five starts in May, his record has not improved much (1-1), but his ERA dropped by more than a run and a half (4.06). Wade Miley, the team’s “ace” of the staff, has posted nearly identical numbers as McCarthy. In the months of March/April, Miley had a 5.36 ERA in seven starts (2-3). In May, he has a 4.01 ERA with a 1-2 record. Josh Collmenter was moved to the starting rotation after Trevor Cahill was reassigned to the bullpen. In the starting role, Collmenter has been extremely impressive. In his four starts and four relief appearances through March and April, he had a respectable 3.77 ERA (1-2). In the month of May, he has a 3-0 record and an even better 2.90 ERA. Chase Anderson has done a bang up job as the rotations number five starter, putting up an undefeated 3-0 record and a 4.02 ERA. His ERA is about right on par as far as number five starters should go, but his undefeated record can be attributed to his stellar run support. In back-to-back games, Anderson has had 10-plus runs in support for him.
With 106 games remaining on the schedule, if the Diamondbacks can keep their consistent play alive and even perhaps string together a win streak or two, the Snakes can be right back in contention by the All-Star break. Last season, the Los Angeles Dodgers were 47-47 heading into the All-Star break and were able to right the ship in the second half, going 45-23 the rest of the way and claiming the top spot in the NL West by 11 games. Here are some of the players that have helped the D-Backs look alive in the month of April.
Top Arizona Diamondbacks Player for May: A. J. Pollock
A.J. Pollock has been tearing the cover off the ball this month, batting .358 with a .409 OBP. In his starts, Pollock has bounced around the batting order from leadoff hitter (15 games), to seventh (10 games), and to eighth (11 games) in the lineup, but his bat has remained consistent. His play at the plate has also been clutch, mashing a game-winning homer dead-center in the bottom of the ninth versus the Padres last series, but his play in centerfield has been just as impressive. From his highlight-reel catch in St. Louis, which robbed Yadier Molina of an extra-base hit, to his league-leading six assists and two-double plays turned in Centerfield, this speedy outfielder is sparking the Snakes.
Top Arizona Diamondbacks Pitcher for May: Bronson Arroyo
Nobody on the staff improved more in a month than starting pitcher, Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo in his first five starts as a D-Back had an abysmal 1-2 record with a 7.77 ERA. Since then, he has been lights out, posting a 3-1 record with a 1.73 ERA in May. This is the kind of production expected and needed out of Arroyo if the Diamondbacks hope to climb into contention.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles, The Snake Pit
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer for the Arizona Diamondbacks