Diamondbacks’ manager Chip Hale continuously tells listeners that right-hander Josh Collmenter is still his “number one” pitcher.
Over the course of the first two-plus months of the season, Collmenter has not pitched to that lofty expectation.
Named the Opening Day starter early in spring training, Collmenter’s fall from grace has been steady. After dropping a 6-3 decision to the New York Mets before 31,575 in Chase Field Sunday, Collmenter’s record fell to 3-6 and his ERA rose from 5.03 at game time to a present 5.24.
Production easily off, Collmenter has not won since he defeated the Rockies on May 6. That culminated in a period in which he captured three wins within four starts before, and at the end of April, sported a 2.76 ERA.
Now, he’s allowed on average, better then two more runs per outing and reasons tend to be obvious.
Case in point is the amount of home runs allowed. What is becoming distributing is Collmenter’s penchant for surrendering gopher balls.
Giving up a pair of bombs to Curtis Granderson, a two-run shot to reserve infielder Eric Campbell and a solo homer to Wilmer Flores, Collmenter is now leads his team in home runs allowed. He has surrendered 13 bombs so far this season, and puts him only two back of National League leaders, Kyle Kendrick of the Rockies and James Shields of San Diego.
“His ball is up,” said manager Chip Hale afterward. “If you get it out and over the plate, they hit it. If your location is not good, hitters will make you pay.”
Over the course of the last month, Collmenter paid the price. While he joked about allowing four home runs Sunday that “the fences were moved in,” his dilemma appears to be beyond just concern.
This boarders on the serious.
“Didn’t do a very good job,” Collmenter said. “I threw a bunch down the middle of the zone.”
Like the real estate mantra, Collmenter’s predicament is location, location, location.
Plus, Granderson touched him for a homer to lead off the game. That represented Granderson’s third, lead-off home run this season, and the 31st of his career.
“Any time you give up runs early, it’s huge,” Collmenter said. “I have to go back now between starts and work on getting breaking pitches low and away, and location.”
At one point early in this one, the Diamondbacks actually gained a lead on Mets’ starter Jacob deGrom.
After Granderson’s lead-off bomb gave the Mets an early 1-0 lead, the Diamondbacks responded with a pair. One scored on a throwing from Campbell and David Peralta drove in the other run with a sacrifice fly.
In the second, Collmenter gave it right back. Juan Lagaras drilled a double to left-center and Campbell followed with his second home runs of the season.
For the game, the Diamondbacks managed only five hits. That included two in the first and three in the sixth. After those two in the first, the Diamondbacks scored one the sixth, and that was on a RBI bunt single from Chris Owings.
In between, deGrom, the National League rookie-of-the-year last season, carved up the Diamondbacks with a fast ball constantly in the mid-90s, a cutter at 90 and a curve which dropped out of the strike zone. His 10 strikeouts was one short of a season best, and that was achieved against the Cardinals May 21 at Citi Field.
ON HIS RETURN
Reliever David Hernandez returned from Tommy John was a successful one inning.
Throwing 15 pitches and nine for strikes, Hernandez lit the radar gun at 94 miles per hour on his first pitch, and that was to Mets’ first baseman Lucas Duda in the eight.
After walking Duda, Hernandez retired Michael Cuddyer on a fly to center, Wilmer Flores fouled out to first and Juan Lagares struck out.
“(Hernandez) threw with the same speed as he did in the rebab period,” said manager Chip Hale. Looked good. We’ll see how he feels (Monday).”
BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN
On Monday night in Dodger Stadium, the Diamondbacks open an eight game road trip.
Righty Rubby De La Rosa (4-2, 5.09 ERA) takes on former Diamondback Mike Boslinger (3-1, 1.98). On Tuesday night, it’s lefty Robbie Ray (1-0, 0.82) opposing right-hander Carlos Frias (4-3, 4.25).
In the series finale Wednesday night, Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 4.88) takes to the mound against lefty Brett Anderson (2-4, 3.29).
Following a day off Thursday, the Diamondbacks move up the coast to San Francisco for a three-game, weekend set against the Giants.
The trip concludes with an inter-league, two-game series against the Angels in Anaheim next Monday and Tuesday nights.