Arizona Diamondbacks Series Preview: Waiting On Upton

In case anyone was wondering, this is what a slugging first baseman looks like (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks finished June 16 - 10, and even with the loss of Dan Hudson seemed primed to make a move on the NL West leaders. The Padres however, got in the way of their destiny, and swept them in front of the pool, leaving the Diamondbacks still searching for their first win in July and six games back of the first place Dodgers.

Like the Tampa Rays, the Diamondbacks are searching for the Upton they felt they got with the first pick of the 2005 draft. That draft was loaded with players like Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Troy Tulowitzki, Andrew McCutchen, and Jay Bruce all going in the first 12 picks. Justin reached the majors before the age of 20 and greatness has been in his forecast ever since, but just like his brother BJ, that greatness has eluded him.

Don't get me wrong, Justin Upton has done quite well for a twenty four year old, but given the expectations, the solid growth year in 2011, his 2012 has to be one of the major disappointments of the 2012 season. He's been basically Bobby Abreu for the Diamondbacks while they needed more of Matt Kemp. Coming into this series, when you look at the starting eight for Diamondbacks, only two players are pulling less offensive weight then their right fielder.

Losing Dan Hudson was a huge blow, in combination with Ian Kennedy last year, Hudson gave the Diamondbacks an above average one/two punch, but that punch is missing like a wild uppercut in 2012. Hudson is done for 12 months at minimum. Kennedy is not going to be in the 2012 Cy Young conversation this year.

This four game series is going to feature three pitchers who were not in the rotation at the end of 2011 and one pitcher who everyone expected to be replaced.

First game has All - Star Wade Miley:
Miley started out in the bullpen, made his first start on April 23rd and has not looked back. Miley has made 13 starts and in eight of those thirteen starts he has given up ONE run or less. In a four game stretch in June, Miley gave up one run in each start. He has a decision in 12 of 13 starts. That is the good stuff for Miley. The one start we care about is his last start. Miley gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 including three home runs. He had a good run

Second game belong to Josh Collmenter:
Collmenter was replaced by Miley after four terrible April starts, went to the bullpen and has been fabulous. That excellent bullpen work got him a spot start when Joe Saunders pulled up lame and he's made the most of it with his last start a brilliant effort against the Brewers. Since being removed from the rotation in April, Collmenter has the following numbers. 32 IP, 30 K's, 7 BB's, 1.38 ERA, .597 OPS Against.

Third game - Trevor Cahill:
Cahill is the only pitcher we will be facing who has been in the rotation all year, he was acquired during the off season for Jarrod Parker. Probably a trade they either already regret or will regret. Cahill is doing exactly what they expected so he's doing his job. Problem is that Parker is already better, will probably get even better, and makes the minimum.

Fourth Game - Trevor Bauer:
Bauer is the ballyhooed prospect who many expected to crack the rotation at some point this year. Problem for Diamondback fans is that they expected him to replace a struggling Joe Saunders, not their best pitcher Dan Hudson. No way to slice it, with Bauer only replacing Hudson, not joining him, the addition of the phenom simply does not carry the same weight. The Padres were not impressed knocking him for a twenty four hour loop. In two starts, nothing to write home about yet.

The rest of the team should be well known to Dodger fans. A few updates.

  • Stephen Drew is finally on the roster but his impact will probably be minimal in this series. A few weeks ago the owner took some snipes at Drew for not being ready to play for the big club and seemed to intimate Drew was not doing enough since he was going to be a free agent this fall. Drew's numbers have been awful so far, will be curious to find out if he can even play SS anymore.
  • Aaron Hill is about the hottest hitter in the National League with a cycle on June 18th, and another cycle on June 29th. He's the best offensive second baseman in the NL right now.
  • Paul Goldschmidt is the hottest first baseman in the National League not named Votto and why he's not on the All-Star team instead of Brian LaHair is fascinating since it was the player vote. You can't even compare the numbers without sargle bargle.Unlike LaHair Goldschmidt started slow and had a TSL of .193 / .288 / 281 on May 1st. Kirk Gibson stuck with his young first baseman was rewarded with a TSL of .337 / .399 / .624 since May 1st. That is called, getting it done.
  • Jason Kubel is doing exactly what they hoped he would do when he was brought in to play LF. .296 / .367 / .533
  • Chris Young had an OPS of 1.397 on April 17th and you could have made an argument he had been the best hitter in the NL up to that point. Young was then placed on the DL and came back May 18th. Based on his numbers since he came back he appears to still be on the DL. Not sure I've seen such futility over such a long number of at bats for a quality major league hitter. 141 Plate Appearances, eighteen hits, .143 / .234 / .262 triple stat line.

The Dodgers only need to win two of these four games as the head into the break waiting for help. The Diamondbacks need to win three or they will find themselves six games back at the break, with the team in front about to get their two best hitters back. Without a trade this is the Diamondback team, and with the injury to Dan Hudson they no longer have the luxury of moving excess pitching for help. Justin Upton and Chris Young must start hitting for them to repeat as Western Division Champs. If they don't tee off on Nathan Eovaldi tonight it could be a long series for the Diamondbacks.

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