Ryan Boyer

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Team Roundup: Diamondbacks

Friday, November 3, 2017


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Arizona Diamondbacks

 

2017 Record: 93-69

Second Place, NL West

Team ERA: 3.66 (3rd)

Team OPS: .774 (7th)

 

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What Went Right

 

The Diamondbacks flipped their record from 2016 to 2017 in manager Torey Lovullo’s first year at the helm, going from a 69-93 club to a 93-69 club to earn the top Wild Card Spot in the National League. After besting the Rockies in the Wild Card Game, they got swept in the NLDS by the eventually pennant-winning Dodgers. Arizona enjoyed a big bounce-back year from Zack Greinke, who held a 3.20 ERA and 215/45 K/BB ratio over 202 1/3 innings. Robbie Ray struck out 218 batters even after missing a month when a line drive struck him in the head, and he also posted a 2.89 ERA. Zack Godley didn’t crack the rotation out of spring training but then had an unexpected breakout with a 3.37 ERA and 165/53 K/BB ratio over 155 frames. Taijuan Walker (3.49 ERA, 146 strikeouts across 157 1/3 innings) and Patrick Corbin (4.03 ERA, 178 strikeouts across 189 2/3 innings) also had their moments as part of a fantastic D’Backs rotation. Fernando Rodney had a lousy April but was great the rest of the way, finishing with 39 saves. Archie Bradley was a dynamic setup man with a 1.73 ERA and 79 strikeouts over 73 frames. Paul Goldschmidt proved worthy of a first-round fantasy pick, hitting .297/.404/.563 with 36 home runs, 120 RBI, 117 runs scored and 18 stolen bases. After breaking out with 29 homers in 2016, Jake Lamb one-upped himself with 30 bombs to go along with 105 RBI in 2017. J.D. Martinez was a marvelous midseason acquisition, putting up a robust .302/.366/.741 batting line with 29 longballs and 65 RBI over just 62 games. Chris Iannetta had to share the catching job with Jeff Mathis and Chris Herrmann but still popped 17 home runs while posting a .354 on-base percentage over 89 games.

 

What Went Wrong

 

A.J. Pollock’s 2017 campaign was another injury-shortened one, as he missed nearly two months of action with a strained groin. Just as troubling was that he was rather ordinary at the plate, putting up a .266/.330/.471 batting line with 14 homers and 20 stolen bases. Speaking of injuries, Yasmany Tomas appeared in just 47 contests because of a core muscle injury, encountering multiple setbacks along the way before finally having surgery in August. He also hit only .241/.294/.464 when healthy. Brandon Drury was on some sleeper lists last spring but hit an underwhelming .267/.317/.447 with 13 homers and was a part-time player by the end of the season. Chris Owings batted .316/.355/.484 for the first two months but hit .215/.238/.395 after that and suffered a season-ending fractured finger in late July. Continuing with the injuries theme, Shelby Miller made just four starts before blowing out his elbow, which required Tommy John surgery in mid-May. He might not be ready for major league action until midseason and his role is up in the air with the emergence of the other Diamondbacks’ rotation options.

 

Fantasy Slants

 

**Was Zack Godley’s breakout for real? Godley posted a 6.39 ERA over 74 2/3 innings for the Diamondbacks in 2016 and began 2017 at Triple-A Reno, so it’s fair to say he was well off the fantasy radar this past spring. But, Shelby Miller going down opened up an opportunity in the Arizona rotation and Godley ran away with it by holding a 3.37 ERA and 165/53 K/BB ratio over 155 innings. This looks like a legitimate late-bloomer situation, as Godley’s 3.41 FIP and vast repertoire of pitches don’t point to anything fluky about his performance. The right-hander had one of the best swinging strike rates and groundball rates in the game, which is a recipe for sustained success even in a tough home park for pitchers.

 

**Will Jake Lamb ever be passable against lefties? Lamb has popped 49 home runs and driven in 196 runs over the last two seasons for the Diamondbacks, and he just turned 27 last month. In 2017 he cut his strikeout rate to 23.9 percent while raising his walk rate to 13.7 percent. That sounds like a bona-fide slugger, right? Well, when the opposition has a right-hander on the mound, yes. Lamb batted .282/.386/.552 with 25 dingers versus righties this past season and has hit .279/.354/.502 against them in his career. The problem is that he hit .144/.269/.288 with five homers against lefties in 2017 and has batted .159/.265/.301 versus southpaws in his career. We’re talking 358 plate appearances against left-handers at this point, so it’s no longer a small sample size. Lamb should continue to be good enough versus righties to still be plenty useful in mixed leagues, but he’ll never be a star unless he can figure something out against lefties.

 

**Who will form the Diamondbacks’ double-play combo next season? Chris Owings started at least 15 games at shortstop, second base and right field in 2017, and in 2016 he started 47 games in center field. His best position defensively is probably second base, and that’s likely where he’s in line to begin 2018. The favorite to start at shortstop should be Ketel Marte, who batted .260/.345/.395 with five homers and three steals over 73 games in 2017. Such an alignment would leave the intriguing-but-flawed Brandon Drury and defensive-minded Nick Ahmed without starting jobs. There’s also Daniel Descalso, who started three of four postseason games. Descalso is best suited for a super utility role.

 

**Will Archie Bradley slide into the closer’s role? Fernando Rodney’s contract is up following a predictably bumpy but ultimately largely successful one-year run as the Diamondbacks’ closer. It’s possible Arizona will consider bringing Rodney back, but they have a ready-made option to move into the ninth inning in Bradley. The former top prospect took quite well to a full-time relief role, posting a 1.73 ERA and 79/21 K/BB ratio across 73 innings of work. Bradley is just 25 and would prefer to start, but his success as a reliever, his spotty history as a starter and the options the D’Backs have for their rotation might point to him remaining in a relief role in 2018. That role could very well be closer.

 

Key Free Agents: J.D. Martinez, Fernando Rodney, Chris Iannetta

 

Team Needs: The Diamondbacks will reportedly attempt to re-sign J.D. Martinez, but he might ultimately fall outside their budget, forcing them to turn back to Yasmany Tomas. It doesn’t have to be a closer, but they could use a reliever or two.



Ryan Boyer is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter.
Email :Ryan Boyer



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