Posted on February 22, 2020, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Arizona Diamondbacks have been a tick above average over the past two seasons. The problem is they haven’t been good enough to make the playoffs. This winter, the club resisted the possibility of starting from scratch and rebuilding, choosing instead to make pro-active moves aimed at competing for a postseason spot in 2020. Have the Diamondbacks done enough to reach the playoffs this season or will they continue to fall just a little short?
Arizona traded away longtime ace Zack Greinke last summer, which was taken as a sign that they were ready to rebuild. However, they simply replaced him by signing lefty Madison Bumgarner in free agency. Bumgarner isn’t the dominant force he was a few years ago, but he’s still a frontline starter. His 3.90 ERA from last season isn’t anything special, but at age 30, he still has some good years left and should be capable of leading a major league rotation.
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The good news is that Bumgarner won’t have to carry the Arizona rotation by himself. The Diamondbacks have held onto Robbie Ray to serve as their no. 2 starter. He and fellow veteran Mike Leake should give the Diamondbacks stability in their rotation. Arizona also has a slew of young starters who flashed a ton of potential last season. Luke Weaver, Zac Gallen, and Alex Young all look capable of filling in the spots in the back end of Arizona’s rotation. Journeyman Merrill Kelly also ate up a lot of innings last season, so there should be no shortage of depth in Arizona’s rotation in 2020.
The Diamondbacks had a solid but unspectacular bullpen in 2019 and that should be the case again this year. The late-inning trio of Archie Bradley, Yoan Lopez, and Andrew Chafin remains intact. Bradley looks comfortable in the closer’s role despite a modest 3.52 ERA last season. Meanwhile, Lopez and Chafin should be steady relievers in a setup role after leading the Diamondbacks in appearances last year.
Beyond the trio of Bradley, Lopez, and Chafin, the Arizona bullpen should have a fair amount of depth in 2020. The D’Backs brought in veterans Junior Guerra and Hector Rondon as two more pitchers who should be reliable in the late innings. The likes of Stefan Crichton and Kevin Ginkel were solid last year and additional depth should come from Silvino Bracho after he missed all of 2019 following Tommy John surgery. Also, don’t forget the Diamondbacks have rotation depth that could spill over and help the bullpen.
There were obvious concerns about Arizona’s lineup after they traded away Paul Goldschmidt ahead of the 2019 season, but those fears were a little overblown. Christian Walker turned into an adequate fill-in, hitting 29 home runs and posting an OPS of .825 last season. Arizona could also use Jake Lamb as a platoon partner at first base if needed. Ketel Marte also came into his own last year, hitting .329 with a .981 OPS and the hope is that the 26-year-old can continue to give Arizona a star performance. Eduardo Escobar also had a breakout season with 35 home runs and should continue to be an important middle-of-the-order hitter.
The Diamondbacks also overhauled most of their outfield this winter, likely for the better. They traded for Starling Marte, who has lost a step defensively but is still an impact offensive player. Arizona also signed Kole Calhoun to provide a little extra pop. If David Peralta can stay healthy, he and Calhoun will provide a nice left-handed complement to Marte and Walker. Catcher Carson Kelly should also be a factor offensively after a promising 2019 season. They may not be an offensive juggernaut, the Diamondbacks should have a deep lineup in 2020 that’s better than average.
After winning 85 games last season, the Diamondbacks have an 83.5-win projection for 2020. With all due respect, Arizona’s success last season was a little surprising because players like Marte and Walker over-achieved. But the Diamondbacks have a rotation that should hold its own and give them a chance to win most of the time. They are at least as good as they were a year ago, so look for the Diamondbacks to surpass their 83.5-win projection.