Friday, March 1, 2019

Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 season preview



Ketel Marte (From SBNation)
              Losing isn't easy, and though the Arizona Diamondbacks had a 2018 record over .500, the offseason brought them with plenty of losing. First, the team didn't re-sign top pitcher Patrick Corbin or center fielder AJ Pollock. But the worst blow for the team was a move that had to happen. Star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, the only National League player on all of the last six all-star teams, was traded to St. Louis for a pick and three players. But, despite all that, the team is still looking at contention, and it isn't too far away.

              Offseason additions: RHP Greg Holland, RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, INF Wilmer Flores, RHP Merrill Kelly, C Caleb Joseph, RHP Ricky Nolasco, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, OF Matt Szczur.

               Offseason subtractions: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, LHP Patrick Corbin, CF AJ Pollock, C Jeff Mathis, INF Daniel Descalso, RHP Clay Buchholz, RHP Brad Boxberger, RHP Brad Ziegler, LHP Jake Diekman, UT Chris Owings, OF Jon Jay.

               Rotation
Lost in all the talk about how bad his contract is, Zack Greinke quietly turned in another really good season, nearly matching his 2017 numbers. He'll likely get the opening day start, and lead the rotation. An oblique injury limited Robbie Ray to just 24 starts in 2018, but he became the first pitcher in MLB history to record 165 strikeouts in 125 innings or less (he did it in 123.2 innings). Zack Godley won 15 games, but had an inflated 4.74 ERA, thanks to a 1.45 WHIP. Joining the rotation to replace Corbin and late season standout Clay Buchholz is Luke Weaver, acquired from the Goldschmidt trade, and Merrill Kelly, who was signed to a two year deal out of Korea. Weaver had a good stint in 2017, but struggled when healthy in 2018.

                Bullpen
The bullpen lost one year closer Brad Boxberger and his Player's Weekend emojis, but the team brought in former all-star Greg Holland, who struggled with St. Louis last year but was virtually unhittable after a midseason trade to Washington. Holland seems to be the favorite for the closer role, but set-up man Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano are also competitors. The latter had a 2.44 ERA as a 34 year old rookie last year, and each had three saves. Lefty Andrew Chafin pitched in 77 games, and allowed zero home runs, with a 3.10 ERA. Another lefty, T.J. McFarland, had a career season which saw him post a 2.00 ERA in 72 innings. Matt Andriese, Nick Green, Matt Koch and Jimmie Sherfy are vying for bullpen spots.

                Catching
Always a weak point for Arizona, the team thought it found it's future catcher when they acquired Carson Kelly as part of the Goldschmidt trade. Kelly has struggled offensively in the majors stuck behind workhorse Yadier Molina, but has decent AAA numbers. The team often carried three catchers last year, and might do it again, as Alex Avila is still under contract after a horrible 2018 and John Ryan Murphy wasn't bad with nine home runs.

                 Infield
Third baseman Jake Lamb, who rebounded off a combined 59 home runs in 2016-17 with just six in 2018, will slide over to first to replace Goldschmidt. While Lamb was out, the team acquired Eduardo Escobar from the Twins, and he impressed down the stretch, and was rewarded with a three year, $21 million contract. Two shortstops are in the middle of the infield. Nick Ahmed, formerly a great defender with no bat whatsoever, won his first gold glove had had a breakout season with the bat, hitting 16 homers with 70 RBIs and 33 doubles. Ketel Marte hit .260 with 14 home runs, and had a 3.3 WAR.

                 Outfield
Losing Pollock will sting, but David Peralta, a 30 home run hitter, will help ease off the pain. Injuries really hurt slugger Steven Souza, who will need to rebound this year. An oblique injury might not have Jarrod Dyson ready for Opening Day, but the speedster will be the primary center fielder when healthy.

                 Bench
On the bench are the two backup catchers, infielder Wilmer Flores, formerly a Mets fan favorite, and fourth outfielder Socrates Brito. If the D-backs go again with 12 pitchers, then either utility infielder Ildemaro Vargas or first baseman Christian Walker will get the job as the extra man on the bench.

                 Lineup
2B Ketel Marte
3B Eduardo Escobar
LF David Peralta
RF Steven Souza
1B Jake Lamb
SS Nick Ahmed
CF Jarrod Dyson
C Carson Kelly
Pitcher

                 Rotation
Zack Greinke (R)
Robbie Ray (L)
Zack Godley (R)
Luke Weaver (R)
Merill Kelly (R)

                  Bullpen
Greg Holland (R)
Archie Bradley (R)
Yoshihisa Hirano (R)
Andrew Chafin (L)
TJ McFarland (L)
Matt Andriese (R)
Jimmie Sherfy (R)

                 Bench
C Alex Avila
C John Ryan Murphy
INF Wilmer Flores
OF Socrates Brito
1B Christian Walker

                Additional information:

Ballpark: Chase Field
Manager: Torey Lovullo
GM: Mike Hazen
World Series Championships: 1
2018 record: 82-80

                 Steal of the Decade
At the 2010 trade deadline, the D-backs sent starter Dan Haren to the Angels for four players: Joe Saunders, Rafael Rodriguez, Tyler Skaggs, and the Angels' 12th best prospect, Patrick Corbin. While Rodriguez pitched a whopping 2.2 innings for Arizona, Saunders had a 3.96 ERA in 424.2 innings in Arizona, and Skaggs made his way back to the Angels. But the best part of this trade is Corbin. He pitched six years in Arizona, with two all-star appearances, and a 3.91 ERA before leaving Arizona for Washington and $140 million.

                  Prediction:
While the Arizona Diamondbacks certainly aren't a terrible team, they do not have the roster to compete in the NL West after this offseason's subtractions, and I think they will finish 4th in the NL West.

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