The Arizona Diamondbacks were a surprise contender in the NL West division before tailing off towards the end of the season. With MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt leading the way, they looked like a team on the rise. However one big loss this spring and a lack of depth make the upcoming year tough to watch for D-Backs fans.
Young ace Patrick Corbin finished 2013 with a 3.41 ERA and a team-leading three complete games. His 1.16 WHIP ranked in the top-10 and looked to be the new ace in the dessert. But he just underwent season-ending elbow replacement surgery. Replacing Corbin’s 208 innings will be a difficult task for manager Kirk Gibson. The D-Backs did sign Oliver Perez as a reliever. Mets fans recall the erratic starter as talented but mysterious. Each good start was followed with a bad one. To his credit, Perez has worked himself back to the Majors. As a reliever, he posted 74 strikeouts in 53 innings last year along with a 3.74 ERA. His walks are always a concern as Perez has a tendency to often pitch with runners on base. With Corbin out, Perez is the best option to take over in the rotation. However, if he goes back to his Mets days, he could very well find himself back in the bullpen. Wade Miley had a solid year throwing 202 innings in 33 starts with a 3.55 ERA. By default in Corbin’s absence, Miley is the ace and the D-Backs will need him to step up during the year. Trevor Cahill has disappointed in his two dessert seasons. Since winning 18 games for the A’s in 2010, his ERA has hovered around 4.00. He too will need to rise to the occasion for the team to be competitive. Cahill has always had good stuff, he just needs to keep the ball low in the zone, avoid big innings and trust his talent.
Goldschmidt’s dominance has been a pleasant surprise. The D-Backs had been looking for a franchise face since the Luis Gonzalez years and Goldschmidt perfectly fits the role. He clubbed 36 homers with 125 RBIs while playing 160 games. He also won his first Gold Glove. Goldschmidt’s numbers have improved every season but 2014 will be a different story. There is not much protection for him and pitchers will naturally just throw around him, giving Goldschmidt fewer opportunities to hit. Martin Prado played a solid second base. He is coming off a career-high 82 RBIs seasons and will be counted on for greater productivity behind Goldschmidt. Aaron Hill is looking for another rebound year as he played much of 2013 hurt. When healthy, Hill is capable of 30 homers. As long as he avoids the disabled list (which is a big question mark), D-Backs fans can expect a good season from the second baseman. Combined the D-Backs had one of the worst hitting outfields ever. The starters Jason Kubel, AJ Pollock and Gerardo Parra hit only 23 homers with 112 RBIs, which Goldschmidt himself bested. Gone is Kubel, replaced by former Angels Mark Trumbo. He has averaged 30 homers over the past three years and is a welcome addition in the dessert. As long as Trumbo avoids any AL nostalgia, he should put up big numbers in the hitter-friendly Chase Field.
Without much depth, the D-Backs are another injury away from a horribly bad season. The biggest issue is who will fill the void of Corbin’s loss. If Cahill continues his ineffectiveness or Perez slips, this team could lose 100 games. Another 81-81 finish is more reasonable but do not expect them to be in the race for the division or wild card.
All stats are courtesy of http://www.baseball-reference.com/.