2023 First Look: Are The Diamondbacks For Real?
Go ahead, say it. The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn’t win the National League West if you gave them 324 games to do so.
Really. Go ahead and say it, but if you are in the outfield bleachers, do so at your own peril. Corbin Carroll might put one right in the middle of your cellular device on his way to a Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player award.
Carroll has 13 home runs to go with a .308 batting average and a .968 on-base plus slugging percentage. He doesn’t even have a full year of playing time under his belt and he’s already leading the team in eight key offensive categories. He also plays all three outfield positions and hasn’t committed an error.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. Was a nice pick up. He’s a professional hitter (.287 career ave.) and in his first season with Arizona.
Christian Walker will give you 25-30 homers which isn’t bad in the five hole. He’ll hit around .250 so sometimes he’ll be streaky great and sometimes he can’t hit water if he falls out of a boat. His defensive numbers are eye-popping as he had the best Defensive Wins Above Replacement number for first basemen in 2022.
Evan Longoria needs to be in a platoon. He hasn’t played a full season at third base since 2017. He can still pick it and hit 20 homers. He’s also a veteran which will be nice to have in the clubhouse during the postseason…if they can keep going as they have…FYI, Carroll is now staring at you, asking if you want another one in your lap.
On the mound Zach Gallen is an underrated starter with a career ERA of 3.09. That’s pretty close to an ace. Merrill Kelly is an underrated number-two starter who was 29 before he finally made it to the big leagues. Since then he’s six games over .500 with an ERA of 3.89. He’s leading the team in walks-and-hits-per-innings-pitched at 1.10.
Ryne Nelson had three good games in the bigs last year, but this year his ERA is almost 5.00. He’s not what you want in a fifth starter. Tommy Henry (5.36 ERA last year) has dropped a run off of that this year, which makes him the fourth starter. Zach Davies came into the year as a likely number three, which is where he is. What they don’t have is a true, dominant ace.
They do have a couple of guys in the bullpen. Austin Adams has allowed one run in eight games. Joe Mantiply (2.35 ERA) is a run and a half lower than his career average. He’s also got a kick-ass name. Half man. Half beast child from the planet Plychar. Kyle Nelson has 30 strikeouts in 24 innings. Miguel Castro’s ERA is 3.76 and the highest of the five middle relievers Arizona relies on.
But there are some problems, depth in the bullpen being one. Brandon Pfaat gives up pfaaaat pitches to everyone he sees (8.37 ERA) and Peter Solomon’s ERA is four runs worse than that.
One last note: Madison Bumgarner should have retired years ago. But I get it. If someone wanted to pay me to play at 40 I’d have absolutely kept playing. If they have to keep him, they should put him in the bullpen.
Maybe the 2023 Diamondbacks are a flash in the pan, maybe not. Regardless they have already racked up enough wins to make their August and September games meaningful.
Forecast: 90 wins gets them a wild card berth. A five-game series in the playoffs would give them a chance, but without high-end starters they won’t make it far.