Controlling Home Run Rates: What Doomed Rick Porcello in 2015, and Whether He Can Improve in 2016

If a towering home run off Rick Porcello on just the second pitch of today’s spring training game against Baltimore felt disconcerting, that’s because it should be.

A strained relationship between the former Detroit pitcher and Red Sox nation formed before Porcello ever threw a pitch in a Boston uniform. Even for a pitcher who had shown strides as Tiger the last couple of seasons, a substantial four-year contract at 82.5 million dollars did not seem like surefire positive move. Following that, Porcello underperformed, throwing his tenure in Boston into immediate question and greater scrutiny.

The notion of him having a poor season became very apparent in traditional stats, posting a 9-15 win-loss record and tied his worst single-season ERA mark of 4.92–far above his 4.39 career average and 3.43 ERA the prior year. Usually, these kind of stats, though most widely used, prove deceptive and misleading. Yet even with the more reliable fielding independent pitching metric, Porcello clearly had a poor pitching season: his 4.13 2015 FIP fell above his 4.04 average and above his three consecutive sub-4.00 FIP seasons beforehand. Capturing it all, Porcello experienced a negative 42.9 percent change in his WAR from 2015 to 2015.

A closer look at all his peripheral stats easily point to troubles with home run yield rate–and the characteristics of hits that lead to home runs–as the downfall of Porcello’s season in 2015. After all, he did give up his highest home run total in a single year with 25 in 2015, nearly six more than his career average.

Home run problems

hr-9 porcello

Source: FanGraphs.

As seen above in measuring his home run per nine inning rates across his career relative to a career average of 0.98, Porcello had his worst HR/9 rate of his entire life as an MLB starter in 2015 with the Red Sox (higher totals means more home runs yielded, a worse outcome). Moreover, his first season in Boston marked the largest absolute change in year-to-year HR/9 in his career as well, as his HR/9 swung greatly for the worse from 2014 to 2015.

hr-fb porcello

Source: FanGraphs.

Doing the same analysis for Porcello’s home run to flyball ratio–comparing with a 11.8 career average–offers a very similar picture. The pitcher gave up the most home runs as a percentage of his flyballs yielded during his seven-year career in 2015, though this most recent stat diverges less from previous single-season marks than does his 2015 HR/9 ratio.

Crucially, xFIP tells a very different story. This stat measures expected FIP and calculates it the same way as FIP except that home runs are 10.5 percent of fly balls induced–it estimates how many home runs should have been allowed in terms of league average home run rate. Porcello posted an xFIP of 3.72, just above his 3.68 mark the year before but much better than his career average of 3.85. In other words, this metric and comparison helps isolate Porcello’s propensity to yielding home runs in 2015 as the source for his broader, lackluster pitching.

Contact on pitches

quality of contact porcello

Source: FanGraphs.

The type of hits Porcello allowed also lend insight into his struggles. Harder hit balls not only more often fall for hits and extra bases, but also more likely end in home runs. Interestingly, Porcello allowed many more “hard-hit” balls–as opposed to medium or soft ones–in 2015. As seen in the above graph and table (with the key points towards the right hand side showing the changes in the 2015 season), Porcello experienced a 5.6 percentage point increase in the percentage of all batted balls that were hard-hit, the third largest year-to-year change among all three of the categories. This, along with the fact that it stands considerably above his career average of 26.7 percent, undoubtedly contributed to his home run woes; batters were making much harder contact with Porcello’s pitches than ever before.

Batting average on balls in play, the stat that notoriously fluctuates heavily and over which pitchers have little control, might explain some of Porcello’s struggles, but not many of them. At .332, his BABIP was above a .313 career average. This should indicate slightly worse luck with balls in play and defense behind him, but without a more sizable discrepancy between career and single-season numbers here, BABIP does not hold too much explanatory power.

Home ballpark effects

His decline also has little to do with the environment in which Porcello pitched. Across all MLB stadiums, some are more favorable to hitters than others, a notion quantified by park factors. Here’s the park factor rank in which Porcello pitched for the last seven years in terms of how favorable it was for hitters’ home run totals:

park factor rank porcello

Source: ESPN MLB Stats.

Given that a lower rank is more favorable to the hitter, there very clearly exists little difference in playing in Boston than playing Detroit for Porcello, as it pertains to one ballpark being more conducive to home runs for batters than another. If anything, Boston should have proved more advantageous in this respect.

Differences by pitch type

In terms of differences in pitch type, a few changes in Porcello’s pitching repertoire might have contributed to his struggles.

porcello pitch usage

Source: BrooksBaseball.

As seen in the above graph that compares pitch type usage in 2015 to his career averages for it, Porcello concentrated less on his sinker and more on his fourseam, cutter, and curveball. What’s more interesting is what type of hitting power–proxied by the isolated power (ISO) metric–opposing batters put up against his pitches, as shown below in this graph from BrooksBaseball:

porcello brooksbaseball

Source: BrooksBaseball.

Though using it at the same rate as in the past, Porcello yielded a much higher ISO to opposing batters on his changeup than before. This change marks the greatest one along his transition from Detroit to Boston, and thus holds the greatest significance in terms of the role of pitch type dynamics in Porcellos’ 2015 season.

Long ball issues, but strikeout improvement

The centrality of long ball struggles explains why several other key peripherals–not related to home runs allowed–did not prove indicative of a broader decline despite Porcello performing poorly overall. Though his walk rate did increase somewhat (but still remained below his career average), Porcello in fact put up the best strikeout numbers of his career: relative to both 2014 and his career average, Porcello experienced surges in strikeouts per nine innings, strikeout percentage, K/BB ratio, posting career-best across all these metrics in 2015. The importance of these underlying measures–of which home runs are a part–derives from their strong predictive ability for future success. So while declines in home run rates may herald future concern for Porcello in Boston, his numbers pertaining to strikeout rates signal improvement in the near future.

Accordingly, an average of projection systems from FanGraphs (under “Depth Charts”) predicts much better results for Porcello in 2016–namely, a 0.8 WAR increase to 2.4 from 2015, and importantly a 0.96 HR/9 mark, more in line with his career average and much better than his 1.31 ratio in 2015. In 2016 more than ever, Porcello’s ability to limit home runs hit off his pitches will heavily shape his performance on the mound.

All stats from FanGraphs.com unless otherwise noted.

Baseball’s Pathetic Acceptance of Barry Bonds

Bonds was back in a Giants uniform for the first time in seven years.

Bonds was back in a Giants uniform for the first time in seven years.

Perhaps my disgusted reaction to Barry Bonds’s week-long return to the baseball world is exacerbated due to how the course of his playing career left me, and I’m sure many other young, credulous baseball fans, utterly heartbroken. But even if I put aside my biases, the decision of the San Francisco Giants to re-introduce Bonds into their clubhouse still remains disgraceful and egregious, and reflects the baseball world’s pathetic attitude towards, and handling of, the sport’s PED scandal.

On Monday earlier this week, the Giants brought Bonds–who retired in 2007–into their spring training facility in Scottsdale, Arizona as a guest hitting instructor. As part of a group of former players that rotates every year, Bonds was tasked to instruct the team’s hitters, but his presence alone proved more noteworthy: the Giants were welcoming him back into the game after having been ostracized from it for the past seven years.

As Keith Olbermann effectively puts it, Bonds is the “symbol of [baseball’s] worst crisis and darkest time since the era of the Black Sox scandal.” He played the biggest role in the BALCO scandal, was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice, and remains one of the few high-profile PED-users to have not confessed to his crimes. 

So while any backlash to this seemingly minuscule one-week stint initially appears overblown, it’s the idea of Bonds’s acceptance that bears greater significance than however many days he was involved with the team.

The situation illustrates yet another whitewashing scheme on the part of the “baseball world” (what I mean here is a consensus of sorts and general common attitude of fans, players, organizations, and figures linked to baseball) regarding its once heralded, but now disgraced, steroid users. It shows the inability for the baseball world to rise up as a whole and courageously confront this issue as it now spreads into another decade of the sport’s rich history; the baseball world pathetically shies away from the glaring problem–and away from the necessity of acting boldly in response to it–and instead opts for purposeful ignorance, choosing to be complacent rather than proactive.

Furthermore, this unwillingness to set a bold precedent–perhaps starting by banning anyone connected to steroids from Major League Baseball–will undoubtedly continue to tarnish the sport. Rather, the baseball world has done the exact opposite: it has allowed PED-users to be involved in baseball, whether still on the field, like Ryan Braun and Jason Giambi, or in dugout roles, such as Mark McGwire and now Barry Bonds.

It’s also important to reiterate and re-establish the severity and detrimental effect of steroid usage, as another event linked to it has come up. Simply put, the use of performance-enhancing drugs destroys the integrity of the competitive game. The establishment of a set of rules for all to follow provides stability and control. In turn, the violation of these rules produces a destructive effect, and impairs those who actually abide by the standards, a phenomenon that stretches beyond the smaller scale of the baseball world into the greater level of society.

Bonds’s alma mater, Arizona State University, also seemed to capitalize on the Giants’ naive push to welcome Bonds back into baseball. Before the Sun Devils’s game on Saturday, Bonds–as well as other 1980s ASU stars–threw out the first pitch at Packard Stadium, five miles from San Francisco’s Scottsdale Stadium where Bonds had been working the past week. Though a less egregious decision than that of the Giants, as Bonds was an All-American legend in Tempe presumably before any PED usage, ASU still appeared keen on ignoring Bonds’ past misdeeds and receiving him as untainted baseball hero. Thus, the team’s decision displayed yet another questionable choice by the general whole of the baseball world with respect to its steroid dilemma. 

And while this stance may seem callous and unforgiving, it’s important to note that before we can give the slightest of pardons to Barry Bonds, he must be the one taking the first steps to asking for forgiveness, starting by the most humbling of acts: plainly accepting his fault.

August 21st- MLB Pointers

  • Ichiro stole the night on Wednesday.

    Ichiro stole the night on Wednesday.

    in light of Ichiro Suzuki’s 4,000th hit today, starting his total in Japan only slightly diminishes this unique feat; more than two-thirds came in the US, and aside from the MLB, Nippon Professional Baseball (Japanese) is one of the most competitive leagues in the world

  • the Red Sox reacted to previous disappointment as their starting pitcher did: after blowing a late-inning lead last night at AT&T Park, Boston bounced back to crush the Giants, while starter Felix Doubront, clobbered by the Yankees in his last outing, turned in a stellar performance–over 8 innings, he yielded just 6 baserunners and allowed only 1 run
  • in 8 innings of 1-run ball as well as striking out 7 Marlins, Zach Greinke further validated the Dodgers’ possession of two aces in their rotation; Los Angeles’ offseason free-spending is finally paying its dividends, as Greinke has won all 4 of his last starts, with a sparkling 0.96 ERA in that span
  • as the Cleveland Indians begin their charge into October (2.5 GB of the wild card), the emergence of Justin Masterson this season as a viable rotation leader is very encouraging even if a playoff spot becomes out of reach–with another victory against the Angels today (6.2 innings with 1 ER), Masterson improves his record to 14-9, enough to tie him for second most wins in the American League
  • the Atlanta Braves added to their MLB-leading win total, but they sustained yet another loss as well (coincidentally at Citi Field); with the timetable for Jason Heyward (fractured jaw) being four-to-six weeks, the ramifications of his injury could be severe, as the Braves will miss his offensive and defensive presence, or limited, as Atlanta’s 2013 success has not hinged so much on Heyward

No Hudson, No Problem: The Power of Brave Pitching

Despite the devastating loss, Hudson's injury sparked the Braves.

Despite the devastating loss, Hudson’s injury sparked the Braves.

Precisely two weeks ago from Wednesday night, the Atlanta Braves sustained a monumental loss that could not be observed in a boxscore. In losing 38-year old Tim Hudson to a broken ankle for the rest of the year, the influence of a veteran leader–both on and off the mound–escaped an Atlanta team in a frail state. The lead on the NL East was not necessarily slipping away, but with several injuries and widespread inconsistency, the Braves were highly regarded as one of the worst first-place MLB teams.

So in losing a prominent figure in Tim Hudson, whose age hardly hindered his progress in 2013, common sense would dictate that Atlanta’s troubles would only increase. Yet since that fateful Wednesday night at Citi Field, the Braves have astonishingly compiled a record of 13-1, with none other than their deprived pitching staff heading the surge.

Over this unforeseen stretch, that has featured Atlanta becoming the first team to reach 70 wins, Brave starting pitchers have combined for a 9-0 win-loss mark. Furthermore, of the last 14 games, the starting rotation posted 10 quality starts, went six or more innings in 11 of those outings, and recorded at least five strikeouts in 8 of those games.

Teheran hasn't yielded more than one earned run in a start since July 14th.

Teheran hasn’t yielded more than one earned run in a start since July 14th.

And that’s not considering the condition of this corps of pitchers. Brandon Beachy continues to recover from Tommy John surgery, Kris Medlen has experienced a “sophomore slump” of sorts, Mike Minor has yet to land below the 4.00 ERA mark in his career, Julio Teheran began testing the waters of starting pitching only this year, and rookie Alex Wood just recently became a regular fixture in the rotation.

Not exactly a bunch you would think could undauntedly lead a once-flailing team back into baseball relevance.

And with potent bats–on the other side of the inning–still just begging to be reawakened, who’s to say Atlanta can’t firmly establish itself in the playoff picture.

MLB August 5th: Studs and Duds

Studs

Guthrie was cruising on Monday.

Guthrie was cruising on Monday.

Jeremy Guthrie– With all the laudatory talk surrounding Kansas City’s pitching staff lately, Guthrie proved all the newly-found believers correct. In a stellar complete-game performance, the number-three rotation starter punched out seven Twin batters, and yielded a mere five baserunners. This bumps the Roayls up to five games above .500, and though a playoff bid is optimistic at this point, stout pitching displays like Guthrie’s will key a late-season push.

Zach Greinke– By no means was it pretty, but against one of the best offensive lineups in the league, Greinke did enough to lengthen the Dodger’s hot streak (notably a 15th straight road win). With a WHIP well over 1.00 for the game, Greinke had to escape dangerous jams in the 3rd and 4th innings. And in containing the Cardinals’ offense during that time, LA was finally able to strike in the top of the 4th (smack in the middle of Greinke’s most pressing innings).

Justin Upton– The Braves outfielder is still trying to shake off some rust and return to early-season form. On Monday night, the moment of resurgence could not have come at a more suitable time. After hitting a 2-out single, stealing his way into scoring position, and then crossing home plate in the 5th inning, Upton’s true heroics came in the top of the 8th. Just a pitcher removed from facing Stephen Strasburg, Upton zipped a 382-foot home run into the leftfield bleachers off reliever Tyler Clippard as the first batter in the inning. This clinched the game for Atlanta, as well as enlarging its NL East lead to a cozy 13.5 games.

Duds

Mike Napoli– The Red Sox first baseman continues his recent horrid stretch, going hitless in 4 at-bats. And what makes him leaving 6 on base even worse is that it came against the lowly Astros. If any series would present a great opportunity for Napoli to get back on track, it would be the ongoing three-game set in Houston. Had Napoli delivered in such promising situations as seen in the 6th and 8th innings, the Red Sox could have potentially snatched a vital win as well.

Perez can only watch in dejection.

Perez can only watch in dejection.

Chris Perez– There’s simply no excuse for Perez’s 9th-inning debacle–especially in the comfort of his home field–and no way to soften the damage he has done. As a fairly reliable and established closer, Perez had the duty to close the deal in an all-important divisional game against the Tigers. Instead, in a span of 13 gruesome pitches, the Indian closer recorded no outs, and instead allowed Detroit to log in 4 runs on the scoreboard en route to stealing a victory. Cleveland could–and should–have been down only two games in the AL Central standings after tonight, as well as a tentative hold on an AL wild card spot. But Perez’s costly disaster proved otherwise: the division deficit is now four games, with no current grip on a playoff slot.

Andy Pettitte– How about a rude welcoming party for his fellow PED-user? In a game the villainous Alex Rodriguez shouldn’t morally be playing, his fellow drug policy-violator in Andy Pettitte did not exactly provide the best support from the mound: Pettitte allowed 7 earned runs on 11 hits and a walk, while failing to pass the three-inning mark. The grief keeps piling on in the Bronx (I mean they deserve it, right?), as a postseason push by the Yanks would require consistently efficient outputs from starters–what Pettitte put on display on Monday is the antithesis to their need.

The Ryan Braun Situation: How History Has Been Ignored

This time around, Braun has no one to blame but himself.

This time around, Braun has no one to blame but himself.

With Major League Baseball suspending Ryan Braun for the rest of the season for PED usage, the sports world has been left in shock and agitation. Yet this heated backlash could have been averted; the idea of learning from history could not be more pertinent to this situation. The history applicable to Braun’s situation can be traced back to two months ago as well as two decades back, ranging beyond just baseball.

In reference to history’s most recent lesson neglected by fans and media, could there be a more comparable sports figure to Braun right now than doping cyclist Lance Armstrong? Both athletes vehemently and publicly denied any link to cheating in their respective sport, reiterating this sentiment on countless occasions.

They instilled a sense of firm reassurance in supporters throughout the pre-confession period. And considering the steadfast fanbase and following the two sportsmen had generated behind them, it’s hard to blame the millions that were so brutally duped.

Braun had become loved in the sports-crazed state of Wisconsin, and held an active role in the community. The true sign of his adored figure pertained to a simple cross-sport relation to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. This friendship between them, an essentially between two franchises, legitimized Braun’s status as a Wisconsin sports idol.

Lance-Armstrong-Livestrong

A lot of Armstrong’s support came from him founding the Livestrong foundation.

And with Armstrong, through his valiant effort against cancer–both while having the disease and afterwards–he became an icon that transcended the bicycle track, attaining the lofty status as a true American sports star (or so we thought). By molding into some sort of hero in such a significant non-sport issue, he generated an enormous amount of support in his sport–of course he atrociously used this to mask plenty of other wrongdoings.

Anyways, judging on the basis of the strength of the falsehood, such adamant and long-lasting nonacceptance would be of course necessary. In other words, there’s no point in sustaining a lie without strong confirmation. It’s when such a powerful message is proved as untrue do the ramifications and reaction become tremendously more severe–a case both Braun and Armstrong had to eventually face.

It’s worth noting that the duration of denial, and enforced penalty, creates a difference between Braun and Armstrong. With Armstrong, the circumstance that developed for more than a decade created a much more dooming outcome, and inciting much more disdain from fans and members of the media.

But as if simply refuting allegations–all the while guarding the truth in the back of their minds–wouldn’t suffice for Braun and Armstrong, the two star athletes had to further their lies to a nasty level. Both of these once-heralded icons actively pursued the defamation and destruction of innocent lives to further play into their lies.

Armstrong made it a mission to destroy the lives of anyone who dared to accuse him and reveal the truths behind his extreme doping. From former teammates to cycling team personnel, Armstrong tried to their lives “a living hell in and out of the courtroom”. Whether it was attempting to destroy reputations, names, or businesses, Armstrong would maliciously do all in his power to attack anyone with the slightest connection to disclosing information about his doping program.

Laurenzi, the victim of Braun's vicious attack.

Laurenzi, the victim of Braun’s vicious attack.

And though in a lesser degree, as he had less time to operate, Ryan Braun engaged in this same sort of activity.

The Brewer outfielder, in his celebratory press conference after winning his appeal against a suspension a year ago, viciously attacked the character and livelihood of a urine collector. Braun cited suspicious activity on the part of urine collector Dino Laurenzi Jr. (though not mentioning his name), insinuating that he may have tainted Braun’s sample, and altogether maligning Laurenzi’s integrity and job.

But wouldn’t the arbitrator’s ruling that Braun’s case wasn’t handled properly be good enough for Braun? He was essentially set free, so exacting pain and distress on someone else is completely unnecessary–unless it was in an effort to further build up a falsehood.

So after the tragedy that was the case of Lance Armstrong, shouldn’t the public have taken notice of Ryan Braun’s relentless denial of doping in a different, more enlightened way? Simply by glancing back at the most recent of historical sports events, there should have been at least some awareness and caution in judging a player’s potential usage of banned drugs–especially when that event (Armstrong’s situation, denial, and then acceptance) was so eerily similar to the current one (Braun’s circumstance).

And then there’s the matter focusing entirely on baseball .

If you’re a baseball fan, does Braun’s acceptance and suspension really come as an outright astonishment? Just a few decades ago, what appeared as an era that would revitalize a dead sport, gradually morphed into (and only later realized to be) one of the most detrimental and destructive of times, ridden with cheating that no other sport has ever seen.

McGwire has become one of the reasons for great distrust in baseball.

McGwire has become one of the reasons for great distrust in baseball.

Do players like Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa ring a bell when you think of baseball players you trusted but were in fact frauds?

Shouldn’t their passionate testimonies and denials of using banned substances be readily taken into account in evaluating the parallel situation of Ryan Braun?

And with these 1990s stars turning out to be raging liars, wouldn’t such occurrences constitute valuable lessons in examining future, similar instances?

Evidently, the answer to these questions were no in the minds of most. The framework for utilizing history’s precedents could not have been more clearer and applicable. But negligence, as in the parallel with Lance Armstrong’s circumstance, prevailed over any teachings of the past.

So that makes two times that baseball world has blatantly disregarded the lessons of history. So why has the public eye been so blind to such perceptible and relatable instances from history? The answer is an unbridled sense of optimism, complacency, and fear of controversy taking away from the game.

No casual fan–and most media members–would want to take a more cynical, yet rational, position in assessing a player. Despite history screaming in the favor of pessimism–the distrust of practically any baseball player, and not having such unwavering faith in them–the greater majority of the baseball world chooses to ignore it.

As unappealing as it may sound, what says you shouldn’t accuse baseball’s best of doping, when the best players from the sport’s most prominent era (1990s-2000s) were found to do so?

Even though it seems unreasonable, baseball has created a culture where it is necessary to question and doubt every “good” player–meaning anyone with a sudden burst in production, such as Chris Davis, should be watched under a critical eye.

Of course it is absolutely unfair for the league’s best who are not cheating to suffer from doubt coming in all directions. Unfortunately, it is impossible to superficially differentiate between the honest and the untruthful. Therefore, if to properly address this issue, every player must be held under scrutiny, and without any “benefit of the doubt”.

This will surely generate plenty of flaws in baseball, with skepticism and distrust abound, but who’s to say the system isn’t already flawed? The only one to blame for such a difficult situation is ourselves and our ignorance.

And ironically, those who tried to rejuvenate baseball through PED usage, have further tainted it and placed it under a darker cloud.

Balanced Showing Keys D-Back Sweep

IMG_1601

The D-Backs cruised through their weekend homestand sweep against the Rockies.

A wild pitch, an errant throw home, and a strained left hamstring. That’s all it took to knock Rockies starter Roy Oswalt out of the game, and awaken the Diamondback offense.

IMG_1570

Oswalt lasted less than 2 innings.

Oswalt, a veteran playing in his 13th year, heard his left hamstring pop after attempting to force a play at homeplate following his wild pitch. And though Edgmer Escalona, who relieved Oswalt, finished off the bottom of the 2nd inning, that damage soon came at Arizona’s next opportunity.

IMG_1577

Hill had a pivotal 2-RBI double in the 2nd inning.

After D-Backs starting pitcher Patrick Corbin and outfielder Gerardo Parra got on base, Aaron Hill smacked a double to chase both runners home. The next batter, Paul Goldschmidt, then verified his all-star status with another double to left, summing up the crucial, 3-run 3rd inning for Arizona.

The turning point in the game was clearly established: after Oswalt’s exit, four of the next five batters reached base. This initiated a decisive 3-run effort, as the inning served as the most impactful in Arizona’s 6-1 victory.

All that was left was for the Diamondbacks’ other all-star, Patrick Corbin, to sustain the lead and potentially reach an elusive 10th victory.

After yielding two baserunners in the 1st inning, Corbin was as sharp as ever: the southpaw retired the next 12 batters, and 20 of the following 21 Rockies he faced. And though Corbin allowed a surprising solo homer in the 8th inning, the impressive and reassuring outing had already been determined: only 4 Colorado hitters reached base in Corbin’s stellar 8 total innings.

Corbin stifled the Rockies.

Corbin stifled the Rockies.

Based on what could be seen in the 1st inning, it appeared as though Corbin would have some difficult with Colorado’s early to middle part of their lineup: fellow all-star Carlos Gonzalez and hot-hitting Michael Cuddyer would understandably present a problem. Yet Corbin still managed to easily thwart off the dangerous Rockie hitters, prohibiting the potent 3-4 spot of Gonzalez and Cuddyer to touch base again.

The number 10 was a key one for Corbin and Arizona: the starter fanned 10 batters, and after six starts, finally grasped his 10th victory of the season. Despite the month of June not taking kind to Corbin, Arizona has still won 16 of his 18 starts. And after a resounding Sunday matinee victory, Corbin’s WHIP dripped below 1.00 (now at 0.98).

The Diamondbacks added some run insurance in the 5th and 6th innings. Third baseman Eric Chavez, who knocked in a run in the bottom of the 5th, was part of the proficient display put on by Arizona’s first four hitters. The group–comprising of Parra, Hill, Goldschmidt, and Chavez–combined to go 8 for 15, scoring 4 runs, totaling for 4 RBI, 1 walk, and striking out just twice. Corbin even helped his own cause in the 6th inning, hitting a double into rightfield and chasing home a run.