The Diamondbacks lost another game to the Mets on Wednesday afternoon and are now 4-14 on the season with by far the worst run differential (-48) in the major leagues. Diamondbacks manger Kirk Gibson and general manager Kevin Towers were both given contract extensions this spring, but the club had fairly high expectations heading into the 2014 regular season so it’s fair to wonder whether one of those two (or both) might be on the hot seat.
Wonder no more, friends. At least for a little while.
CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman spoke to D’Backs president Derrick Hall on Wednesday and asked him where Gibson and Towers stand after such a dreadful start. “It’s far too early to say they’re in jeopardy,” Hall said. “I wouldn’t say anybody’s in trouble at this point. … Right now you can’t place blame on any one person.”
We’ll see if that tune changes if the club’s on-field performance does not improve. The Diamondbacks have a 6.14 staff ERA — highest in the majors — and top pitching prospect Archie Bradley remains in the minors.
Starter Jeremy Hellickson has become the Phillies’ most enticing trade chip as he’s put together a solid month of July. After shutting out the Marlins on one hit and one walk over six innings on Monday, the right-hander lowered his July ERA to 1.97 and his overall ERA to 3.65. As a result, the Phillies are telling teams they want a top-five prospect to part with Hellickson, per ESPN’s Jayson Stark.
Obviously, a top-five prospect means something different if you’re the Marlins as opposed to the Rangers. And the Phillies’ price point for Hellickson isn’t likely to stay that high, but GM Matt Klentak is setting a lofty starting point so that the return might end up being higher than market value.
ESPN’s Buster Olney speculates that the Phillies could end up holding onto Hellickson and giving him a qualifying offer after the season. He notes that the Phillies have only $25 million tied up for the 2017 season, so they could afford to pay Hellickson in excess of $16 million if he were to accept.
Madison Bumgarner isn’t the only Giants pitcher who can rake. Matt Cain crushed a three-run home run during Tuesday’s game against the Giants.
Cain stepped to the plate with runners on the corner and one out against Reds starter Cody Reed in the bottom of the second inning. Reed threw a 1-1 fastball down the middle and Cain hit it about 20 rows back in the left field seats.
It’s Cain’s first homer of the season, his first since 2012, and the seventh of his 12-year career. He still has some work to catch up to Bumgarner, who has two homers this year and 13 in his career.
On the pitching side of things, Cain got the win against the Reds on Tuesday night, giving up four runs on six hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings. He currently holds an ugly 5.95 ERA.