clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

2019 National League West Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

New, comments

The D-Backs lost their best pitcher and their best hitter this off-season. Will they still have a chance to compete for the division?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

MLB: Spring Training-Cleveland Indians at Arizona Diamondbacks Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

So far we’ve taken a look at the Padres, Giants and Rockies. It’s time to wrap things up with the team projected to land third in the National League West division - the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A look back at 2018

After making the playoffs in 2017, the D-Backs looked destined to make their second consecutive October appearance. Things looked good for them as the season began, finishing their first month 20-8. After May 1, Arizona was already up 6.5 games in the division.

They hit a rough stretch in May, dropping 13 of 14 games, falling 1.5 games back in the division. Things turned around after the first week of June, with Arizona reclaiming the lead in the division. Over the next two months, they would go back-and-forth between first and second in the NL West.

On August 30, the D-Backs headed to Dodger Stadium for a crucial four-game series with the Dodgers. The series could either help put some ground between the two teams, or help the Dodgers climb back into the race to claim the division. Arizona dropped the final three games after winning the series opener, leaving Los Angeles with a one-game deficit.

Things would fall apart for the D-Backs, as they finished the season going 8-17, and ultimately finished nine games out of first when the season ended.

Key additions and subtractions

The biggest loss for the D-Backs this offseason was when they traded away Paul Goldschmidt. With only a year left on his contract, it was unlikely Arizona would re-sign him when he became a free agent in 2020. They dealt him to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher Carson Kelly, right-handed pitcher Luke Weaver and second baseman Andy Young.

On top of losing their best hitter, they also lost one of their top pitchers. Patrick Corbin elected free-agency and signed a six-year contract with the Washington Nationals for $140 million.

Another player they lost in free-agency was center fielder A.J. Pollock, who signed with the Dodgers. With the hopes of replacing Pollock’s production, Arizona signed center fielder Adam Jones to a one-year contract. Jones spent the last 11 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles.

A notable move that they made was signing Greg Holland to likely be their closer for the season. Holland spent 2018 with the Cardinals and Nationals. Though he appeared in 56 games, he only had three saves. This was one year removed from his time with the Rockies, where he led the national league with 41 saves.

Pitching

Getting the start on Opening Day for the D-Backs will be 16-year veteran, Zack Greinke. Making 33 starts last year, it was the most Greinke had made since 2012. Being 34 didn’t stop Greinke from being one of the best pitchers in the NL last year.

He went 15-11 and posted an ERA of 3.21. In 207 23 innings, Greinke struck out 199 and had a WHIP of 1.079. On top of his incredible numbers, he was named to his fifth All-Star team and won his fifth Gold Glove.

Robbie Ray will look to improve on his 2018 campaign. In 24 starts, he only lost two games, including none in his final 13 starts of the year. He posted an ERA of just under four, while striking out 165 batters in only 123 23 innings.

Zack Godley was among the top of the league in wins last year with 15, but his ERA hovered just under five. He struck out 185, a new career-high for him. Though his wins and strikeout numbers were high, he averaged 1.5 walks and hits every inning he pitched.

Acquired in the Goldschmidt deal was Luke Weaver. Only 25, Weaver is a former first-round pick. He had a down year in 2018 after a solid 2017 season. The right-hander went 7-11 with an ERA of 4.95 last year. Like Godley, his WHIP was also around 1.500.

Rounding out the rotation will be Merrill Kelly. At 30, Kelly has never started an MLB game. He last pitched in 2014, when he was a member of the Durham Bulls. In 2014 he was 9-4 with a 2.76 ERA.

This is what the projected starting rotation looks like to start the season:

1 Zack Greinke RHP
2 Robbie Ray LHP
3 Zack Godley RHP
4 Luke Weaver RHP
5 Merrill Kelly RHP

Position player review

Although some key players were lost, the D-Backs will return mostly familiar faces. Aside from the addition of Jones, the outfield will consist of Ketel Marte and David Peralta.

Making up the left side of the infield will be Eduardo Escobar as well as Nick Ahmed. Escobar was picked up from the Twins during the season last year, whereas Ahmed has been with Arizona since 2014.

The right side looks to be Jake Lamb, who will likely slide over to first to replace Goldschmidt. Manning second will be the newly-signed Wilmer Flores.

Behind the plate for Arizona will be Carson Kelly.

Here is what their lineup looks like as of now:

Ketel Marte RF
Eduardo Escobar 3B
David Peralta LF
Jake Lamb 1B
Adam Jones CF
Nick Ahmed SS
Wilmer Flores 2B
Carson Kelly C

Top prospects

Arizona has one of the weaker farm systems in baseball, with their highest prospect coming in at No. 80 on MLB’s pipeline. Jon Duplantier, a right-handed pitcher, is currently the No. 1 prospect for the D-Backs. He was selected in the third round of the 2016 MLB Draft.

Duplantier spent 14 games in Double-A last season, going 5-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts.

Another player cracking the top 100 is right-handed pitcher Taylor Widener. Spending last season in Double-A as well, where he went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA last season.

Projected finish

The number I’m seeing Arizona finishing around is 78 wins. I think that’s pretty accurate. If they can remain healthy, their 1-2-3 punch in their starting rotation is still one of the best in the National League. Though they lost some solid hitting pieces, I really like the addition of Adam Jones. Jake Lamb is a huge question mark, as he only played 56 games last year. But as we saw in 2016 and 2017, he’s a guy with the capability to hit 30 home runs. Finally, their 8th/9th duo of Archie Bradley and Greg Holland has the potential to be very solid as well.

Schedule against Dodgers

At Dodger Stadium: March 28-31, July 2-3, August 9-11,

At Chase Field: June 3-5, June 24-26, August 29-September 1

You can get tickets to attend these games here.