Arizona Diamondbacks Last Year: 82-80 2nd in NL West This Year: 2nd in NL West
Last year the Diamondbacks flew out of the gates to a 20-8 start. They were then undone by their own doing and the Dodgers acquisition of Manny Ramirez. The team filled with young players has gotten a year older and this year looks to best the Dodgers this year and make the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Opening Day Lineup w/Projections 2B Felipe Lopez .274 8 HR 53 RBI SS Stephen Drew .296 24 HR 75 RBI CF Chris B. Young .251 25 HR 87 RBI LF Conor Jackson .294 15 HR 89 RBI RF Justin Upton .261 23 HR 79 RBI 1B Chad Tracy .266 17 HR 75 RBI 3B Mark Reynolds .255 30 HR 78 RBI C Chris Snyder .238 17 HR 62 RBI P Brandon Webb
Rotation RHP Brandon Webb 19-9 3.11 ERA 176 K RHP Dan Haren 17-8 3.15 ERA 198 K LHP Doug Davis 10-11 4.40 ERA 149 K RHP Jon Garland 13-9 4.79 ERA 103 K RHP Max Scherzer 12-8 3.15 ERA 187 K
CP RHP Chad Qualls 3.27 ERA 27 SV 73 K
Best Case Scenario: The Arizona batters learn that contact is there friend. Upton blossoms into the All-Star player he will be. Drew, Jackson and Young further their development and become a force in the middle of the lineup. Scherzer stays healthy and is an immediate ace backing up Webb and Haren. This team wins 90+ games and wins the NL West and makes noise in the playoffs.
Worst Case Scenario: The strikeouts keep rolling as Mark Reynolds nears 250 strikeouts. Injuries riddle the rotation. Upton is still a .220 hitter. Scherzer is not ready to take the next step and also continues his shoulder struggles. Arizona can not figure out the bullpen leading to chaos and blown leads. This team finishes around .500 and might end up in 3rd place.
Player Most Important to Success: Max Scherzer. Scherzer made a lot of noise in his appearances last year with the Diamondbacks. He had an ERA of 3.05 in 7 starts and 56 IP and 66 K's in those 56 innings. The problem with Scherzer is that he has yet to throw over 100 innings in a single season yet. He is already not likely to be ready for Opening day and won't likely pitch until mid-April. If he can stay healthy he will be a very imposing 3rd starter in this rotation that will be the best in the National League. This pitching staff will be able to shut down the Dodgers lineup to win the division and will not a be a team anyone will want to face in a short series in October.
Outlook: What killed the Diamondback last year was the inability of the lineup to make contact. Mark Reynolds struck out 204 times, Chris Young struck out 165 times, Justin Upton 121 times in only 356 at bats and Stephen Drew also struck out 109 times. You can not win a lot of games with the middle of the lineup striking out 1 out every 5 at bats or worse. They absolutely have to cut down on the strikeouts and realize they don't have to swing for the fences every time. That being said the lineup has a lot of young talent that can produce throughout the lineup. If Scherzer develops this team has the best pitching staff in the NL. Webb and Haren will be able to win games for the team that they have no business winning. Those two were the only reason this team finished above .500 last year. I had this team winning the division before Manny went back to the Dodgers. While it is still close and should be a hard fought long race I think ultimately the Diamondbacks will fall short due to the lineup to the Dodgers and miss out on the playoffs again in 2009.