D-backs vs. Brewers: Battle of the slugging pitchers

Arizona Diamondback pitcher Daniel Hudson rounds third after hitting a home run on Sunday. (Rick Shutternap)

On Sunday, Diamondbacks pitcher Daniel Hudson went two-for-three, with three RBIs and a home run. Pretty fitting, as the D-backs prepared to host the only team in the National League with a better-hitting pitching staff, the Milwaukee Brewers.

The Brewers’ pitching staff brings a hulking .190 batting average to Arizona, with three home runs, 13 RBIs, and 17 runs scored. Here’s a breakdown of how their staff has fared at the plate this year, in statistical order:

Zack Greinke: The American League-raised former Cy Young winner leads the Brewers’ rotation not in ERA and wins, as Milwaukee-folk expected, but in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Greinke’s hitting .250 with a .718 OPS — that’s a .318 OBP and .400 slugging percentage, three sacrifices and a home run. How thrilled would you be, NL fans, if your starting pitcher reached first base every third plate appearance?

Randy Wolf: The seasoned, 34-year-old NL veteran may not have the figures (plate-wise/money-wise)  that the rich kid ahead of him in the rotation (ahem, Greinke), but he’s having yet another good year at the plate. Wolf is hitting .206 with a .531 OPS and three doubles, making him — get this — a wolf in sheep’s clothing. (Get it? He bats in the pitcher’s spot — sheep’s clothing — but he hits well, wolfishly, even. No? Sorry.)

Yovani Gallardo: Hitting .214 with a .542 OPS, four RBIs and a home run.

Chris Narveson: One of two Brewers starters below the Mendoza line, with a .182 batting average, two doubles, two RBIs and five sacrifices.

Shaun Marcum: (This is unrelated, but if you didn’t see his highlight from Sunday, you need to.) Marcum has a rotation-worst .114 batting average but a rotation-best six RBIs, along with his home run. He also has a team-best seven sacrifices.

Now, for the D-backs starters, who lead the majors in RBIs (22), home runs (4) and on-base percentage (.225) as a group. A look at them, in statistical order:

Daniel Hudson: Babe Ruth is alive. He’s only 24, from Lynchburg, Virgina, and he was involved in another horribly lopsided Sox trade — except this time, the White Sox, not the Red Sox, made the blunder. The aforementioned hero of Sunday’s series finale versus the Dodgers didn’t have a flukey weekend. Hudson is hitting — ready? — .359 this season with a whopping .888 OPS. He leads all pitchers in RBIs with 12, and he has three doubles and seven sacrifices to his name. Oh, he’s also got 10 wins, two complete games and 100+ strikeouts, making him the most well-rounded pitcher in baseball at the moment.

Zach Duke: Duke and Hudson are most responsible for the rotation’s inflated hitting stats. Duke has five RBIs and two home runs in just 14 at-bats. He also sports .286 batting average and a disgusting 1.048 OPS (.333 OBP/ .714 SLG). He’s got a 5.47 ERA in nine starts, but we may have just uncovered Gibson’s reasoning for leaving him in the rotation (I kid).

Barry Enright: Enright made the slugging pitchers piece for a couple of reasons: a) He’ll be recalled from triple-A Reno to make his first start since May 4 and b) he hit a home run earlier this season. He’s got a .182  batting average and .762 OPS in 11 at-bats to complement his bop.

Ian Kennedy: Apparently the guy takes BP (bunting practice) as seriously as he does BS (bullpen sessions). The D-backs ace has six sacrifices on the year. You don’t want to know his other plate numbers — they contradict the title of this article. Let’s just put it this way: They are very pitcher-esque.

Joe Saunders: The lefthander has a .172 batting average with an RBI and a sacrifice.

Josh Collmenter: Another sub-Mendoza line guy, Collmenter has .105 batting average with two sacrifices. He’s almost as lucky for being featured in this article as Joe Blanton was for being featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with teammates Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Almost.

A few series notes:

– Collmenter was nothing short of dominant last night. He gave up no runs on three hits, tallying seven strikeouts and going eight innings strong. He’s now 5-5 with a 2.65 ERA and, beyond that, I think his name is in the NL Rookie of the Year hat. He’s no frontrunner, but if he continues to perform at this level and sees some fallout from the other candidates, he’s got a shot. Again, last night’s performance was brilliant.

Prince Fielder, who was booed at the Home Run Derby a week ago for not choosing hometown slugger Justin Upton for the NL derby squad, instead going with teammate Rickie Weeks (who gave a sub-par performance), was booed by the 17,404 who gathered at Chase Field for last night’s game. It will be interesting to see how long this lasts. Fielder seems to get somewhat of a kick out of the whole thing.

– I talked about Enright’s call-up earlier; here are some numbers from his stint in Reno: 12 starts, 71.1 innings pitched, 8-2, 4.29 ERA, 54 strikeouts, 1.16 WHIP. Unless the red-headed righty is plain awful tonight, you can expect him to be the fifth man in the rotation down the stretch. Duke — Gibson’s June-and-change fifth man — has been sent to the bullpen. And, ironically, Aaron Heilman — the guy who was called up to the club in May when Enright was optioned to Reno — was released by the team yesterday.

– Upton has gone 0-for-15 at the plate since the All-Star break, striking out five times.

– The D-backs are 3-1 versus the Brewers this year, beating them in a Fourth of July series just two weeks ago.

David Hernandez is a perfect 7-for-7 in save opportunities, since filling in for the injured J.J. Putz. In those saves — the first of which came on July 2 and the seventh coming last night — Hernandez is averaging a strikeout per inning and he’s yet to give up a hit. Putz is due back at the end of the month.


Tonight (6:40pm PST): RHP Barry Enright (1-3, 6.49) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (10-6, 4.08)

Wednesday (6:40pm PST): LHP Joe Saunders (6-8, 3.89) vs. LHP Chris Narveson (6-6, 4.74)

Thursday (6:40pm PST): RHP Ian Kennedy (10-3, 3.39) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (7-3, 5.04)

D-backs manager Kirk Gibson has gotten three straight dominant pitching performances from Kennedy, Hudson and Collmenter. If the team can get through the weaker part of its rotation — Enright tonight and Saunders tomorrow — it will be right back to the top, with Kennedy closing out the four-game Brewers series and Hudson opening up the important weekend series versus the Rockies on Friday.

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