5 Arizona Diamondbacks in Danger of Losing Playing Time
With the clock ticking and less opportunities for wins to be had, the D-Backs have begun tightening the proverbial belt. Managers Kevin Towers (GM) and Kirk Gibson (field) have started experimenting with the lineup.
From Chris Johnson and Ryan Wheeler at third base to the ongoing Jason Kubel-Gerardo Parra discussion in left field, now is the time for Arizona to begin its playoff push.
With the team looking to trade stale play for dazzlers reminiscent of 2011, the following players are D-Backs who are in danger of losing playing time.
Though they're not often a topic of playing time discussion, back-up catchers serve a vital purpose and in Arizona's case, this is no different.
No. 2 backstop Henry Blanco served Miguel Montero well in 2012, allowing the veteran catcher a much-needed day off approximately once per week; however, Blanco did not serve his team well in his fill-in role.
After reaching a season-high .286 batting average in April, Blanco's statistics tapered off drastically. After a 0-3 performance in Philadelphia on Aug. 5, Blanco's batting average was .188, while his slugging percentage was a meager .281.
As fate would have it, the issue of Blanco's playing time has been temporarily resolved as the D-Backs claimed Wil Nieves off waivers from Colorado to replace Blanco, who was placed on the Disabled List after injuring his thumb in Philadelphia.
After returning from his year-long injury in June, shortstop Stephen Drew has found himself struggling to regain his MLB edge. Hovering at the Mendoza line for the majority of 2012, Drew's seasonal slugging percentage is just .303, though the shortstop has shown promise early in August.
Thanks to Willie Bloomquist's sore back, Drew has recently been assured regular starts, of which he has made the most of by batting a season-high .286, and by showing a .643 slugging percentage thus far in August.
If Drew continues his climb back to MLB prominence, Bloomquist could lose out on the shortstop job, leaving him and second baseman Aaron Hill battling for that spot.
Hill is batting a career-high .297 with a .833 OPS, suggesting the D-Backs may opt to stick with a streaking player.
As Arizona's No. 1 left fielder, playing time is Jason Kubel's to lose.
Since joining the club this season, Kubel has become a reliable run producer, knocking in 73 RBIs to go along with 23 home runs and a .281 batting average.
Yet as great as Kubel's start was, he has cooled off in August, manufacturing just one RBI in five games and entering a 2-for-19 slump, with a batting average of just .105.
Fortunately for Kubel, backup Gerardo Parra has not fared any better, starting August with a 0-for-10 streak. Still, Parra owns a .279 average over the course of the season and is coming off a .361 July.
In the end, the Kubel-Parra conundrum may come down to whoever first puts together a multi-hit game in August.
After taking a two-month hiatus from the starting rotation, pitcher Josh Collmenter started four games in July, putting together a promising 3-0 record with a 3.00 ERA in 27.0 innings of work.
Collmenter's last two appearances, however, have not been so brilliant.
After giving up five runs in six innings on July 27, Collmenter entered in relief on August 5, completing just one-third of an inning and giving up one run to take the loss versus Philadelphia.
Collmenter's role is perhaps most uncertain, as the sophomore pitcher has been anything except consistent. He has been putting up worse numbers than he did in 2011.
By now, Collmenter has lost the starter role, though the question remains whether he will lose the regular reliever role as well.
With Daniel Hudson on the 15-day DL, Patrick Corbin's role is in jeopardy of being another temporary assignment.
In his debut season, Corbin was originally slated to be a starter. After posting a 2-3 record with an ERA in the five-range during five starts from April 30 through May 21, Corbin lost the job and was sent back to Triple-A.
Since then, Corbin has lowered his ERA in relief, throwing a .33 WHIP in three innings of work vs. Atlanta on June 28. He also put together a stellar performance against Los Angeles on August 1 in which Corbin struck out five in 6.0 innings, thereby claiming the victory and holding the Dodgers scoreless.
If Corbin produces more of these recent appearances, then he just may get another shot at the regular starting rotation, even with Hudson back in action.
Yet given his track record and rookie status, once Hudson returns, Corbin may very well be the first one to go.