N.L. West Prediction: Arizona Diamondbacks
Mad bum ain’t beating dem Bums for the NL West.
If Madison Bumgarner retired today he might have a chance at the Hall of Fame. He’s been one of the best starting pitchers in the league for the last decade and he has three World Series titles. That’s quite a résumé. Unfortunately for him, Father Time is not being kind. Injuries in old age seemed to of robbed him of his velocity and location. A 6.49 ERA in 2020 probably should’ve been an indication that it was time to hang ’em up. But if you’re like me, do you wanna play until your body absolutely tells you that you cannot any longer? Hell yes and it doesn’t seem like he’s there yet. So the question for the Arizona Diamondbacks is what do you do with the guy that you expected to be a number two or three starter who should really be coming out of the bullpen? The answer? Bring him out of the bullpen. Riley Smith and Matt Peacock made the club and fared reasonably well in their few seasons in the minors. Both had ERA’s in the mid threes.
Will the real Luke Weaver please stand up? Is this the guy who had a 2.94 ERA two years ago in12 starts or the guy who had an ERA two runs higher than that the year before? Only the baseball gods know. With Bumgarner seemingly at the end of his career these are the kinds of questions that the Diamondbacks management has to ask. Bumgarner‘s first year in Arizona was abysmal giving up seven runs a game. If he keeps going like this those Hall of Fame conversations will be very very short. Taylor Widener could be pretty good ( sub-four ERA in a brief sample size). They had him in the pen last year but seem intent on starting him. Stefan Crichton had a great 2020 which seems to be typical of so many guys with high career ERAs. Can he post a 2.62 ERA again or will the pumpkin turn into a ball of black tar heroin? Not that Crichton should in any way be associated with heroin. It’s a metaphor for… oh nevermind.
Can Arizona score enough to have a two run lead for Chris Devenski when he comes out of the pen to save the game? Somebody figured out something about Devenski. His first two years in the league he had an ERA of about 2.50. In 100 games the next two years his ERA was two runs higher. Chris Gallen might be a better fit for the closer role. He had 82 strikeouts in 72 innings Kevin Ginkel was another guy who had a terrible 2020 and who you would expect a rebound in ’21. His career ERA is around 3.70. Same (roughly) goes for Yoan Lopez. He’s solid no matter where you put him.. All in all those bullpen is good enough to keep them in games. The question is going to be, will their starters leave with a lead?
Ketel Marte gives them decent power out of the second base position and he hits for a pretty high average (.285 career), he walks a decent amount and doesn’t strike out nearly as much as a lot of guys. An 8:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t terrible. He can also steal you a base. Leftfielder Tim LoCastro hit .290 last year but it’s too early to know how good he’s going to be. Obviously the Diamondbacks hope he keeps improving. Eduardo Escobar is a 20 home run type guy with a .256 batting average over his career. Certainly not terrible but you wish you had more from the third base position. Asdrubal Cabrera is good for just about the same production. All of these guys should be able to play multiple positions. And it’s interesting that all three are switch hitters.
In the one season he had to actually play almost every day, Carson Kelly hit 245 with 18 home runs. Not bad but it would be nice if you could throw out more than 27% of the base runners you were trying to steal. Stephen Vogt is as good of a mentor as you could hope to have. He’s been a winner everywhere he’s gone and the Diamondbacks are lucky to have him as their backup catcher. David Peralta is a professional hitter. He’s a good guy to have in the number two spot. Christian Walker has power. It would be nice if he could increase his on base percentage and his discipline at the plate in order to see more pitches. The same thing goes for outfielder Kole Calhoun.
There are some good ball players here. Can they be bolstered by a couple kids from the farm system? Maybe. But there are just so many places where they could be better. If they finish .500 it will be a miracle.