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The Deal on the D-Backs

June 19, 2007 | By RotoRob | comment on this post

The boys at azsportshub.com, where I was a guest last week on their podcast, are back with their most recent Arizona Diamondbacks report. The scoop from the week that was:

Micah Owings is looking very solid, giving up one, one, two and three earned runs over his last four starts. With a 4-1 mark and 3.84 ERA, he deserves some attention in NL-only leagues, especially with his next start coming against Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Last Saturday, he threw five shutout innings at the BoSox before getting touched up for a pair of runs. On Friday, all three runs he gave up came in the sixth inning. Opposing hitters are batting less than .240 against Owings through the first five innings of games; afterwards, he’s getting torched to the tune of .365. Azsportshub suspects Owings has stamina issues, but he had hurled at least 106 pitched in three straight starts before Wednesday. Another possibility is he needs to show hitters another look the third or fourth time through the order. He’s got a solid heater, but getting his slider and changeup over for strikes on a consistent basis is the key.

The Old Unit is still hurling six inning outings, but last Sunday, he had to throw a season-high 113 pitches and he landed on the DL with glute tightness. Glute tightness is a fantastic quality in the ladies, but not so good for aging starting pitchers. Manager Bob Melvin thinks Johnson’s injury is related to his sciatic nerve. Uh oh. And here I was thinking that the team had been handling him so well this season. At any rate, Johnson is supposed to be back in the minimum amount of time. We’ll see.

The D’Backs went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position in the three-game sweep at the hands of the Yankees. All told, they scored four runs, hit .196, drew a mere three walks and went down on strikes 19 times. Talk about stickless Snakes.

On Wednesday, Livan Hernandez was handed his worst loss in over a month, getting pounded for nine hits, five walks and seven runs in just four innings. Holy WHIP killer, Batman. Hernandez’s WHIP is now over 1.50 and his ERA has soared to 4.20. Scary thought: If the Yanks hadn’t failed on a bases-loaded, one-out situation, it would have been ever worse. Look, this dude’s a workhorse, but…

Edgar Gonzalez gave up just one hit in three shutout innings of mop-up duty behind Hernandez. That effort earned him a start when Johnson landed on the DL and, on Saturday ‘ on a mere three-days rest ‘ he gave up just two hits and a run over five innings to earn the win. That effort ought to gain some traction for Gonzalez.

Augie Ojeda is up from Triple-A to replace the finally shipped out Alberto Callaspo. In his first taste of the majors in three years, he enjoyed a two-hit game including jacking a ninth inning blast, his sixth career homer in 180 games spread out over six seasons with three organizations. Should Stephen Drew be looking over his shoulder? Kidding’mostly.

Apparently I jinxed Juan Cruz when I talked about him on the podcast as a possible replacement at closer should Jose Valverde get hurt or melt down. Since then, he’s endured back-to-back poor outings and a 9.95 ERA in June isn’t going to make anyone think Cruz is ready for more responsibility.

Speaking of Valverde, he slammed the door Sunday for save No. 22 on the season and 73 for his career ‘ just one back of Matt Mantei for the all-time lead among Diamondback hurlers.

Orlando Hudson is on a roll, batting .412 in the past week to sneak back to within a point of .300 for the first time since May 15. A more patient approach at the plate this season has allowed Hudson’s power game to rise to a new level.

Reliever Tony Pena is also grooving right now with six straight scoreless appearances, covering 5 1/3 innings. He’s struck out seven and walked three over that stretch, chalking up four holds along the way. Although Pena’s command isn’t quite as good as his rookie season, his peripherals are superb this season, and with a .290 slugging percentage against, he’s barely being touched. Maybe it will be Pena, not Cruz, who gets the nod should Valverde need to be relieved of his duties.

On the flipside, Chris Snyder continues to swing an icicle. While he blasted two homers last week, that’s all he managed in four games and 12 at-bats. Snyder hinted he could be a productive stick last season, but he’s been simply awful this year, not getting on base nearly enough to be of any use. I was still big on Snyder last year, but now I’ve lost quite a bit of faith.

Enrique Gonzalez is up from Tucson with Johnson out. He hasn’t been very effective down on the farm this year, so there’s no reason to expect a sudden epiphany now that he’s on the parent team. It’s too bad — he showed such promise last year.

I had this in my notes as something I wanted to talk about Thursday during the podcast, but time got away from us. If you’re seeking a second-half sleeper, Max Scherzer could be it. He has a 0.53 ERA at High-A and will likely be bumped up to Double-A soon. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility to think he’ll be able to help the Diamondbacks this season.

The complete report can be found here.

Want to see your team report here? RotoRob is seeking team correspondents for a variety of professional sports teams to file occasional reports. Contact me for details.

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