After a long, weird offseason the Diamondbacks get things going with a trip to Los Angeles. While it didn’t start great, Zack Greinke is usually terrible in Dodgers Stadium, almost like he’s embarrassed he left in the first place.
So what should we expect from a team that say three of its core players depart via free agency or trade and replace them with considerably less accomplished players?
Believe it or not, pretty close to what we saw last year at least relative to the final total of wins and losses.
Why? Because while this team lost a lot of talent, there’s still enough talent to prevent them from falling off a cliff.
Offensively, there’s no denying the team will miss Paul Goldschmidt in every way possible and I continue to believe it was a huge short and long term mistake to trade him. And AJ Pollock was a difference maker when healthy, even if that wasn’t all that often the last two years. But, while this lineup doesn’t have any real sharp teeth, its possible its more balanced top to bottom than a year ago.
Last year, the Dbacks collectively had wild swings of offensive production with long stretches where the offense was dynamic and longer stretches where it was anemic. The quality of the offense was usually based on which one dude in the top heavy lineup was on fire for that stretch.
The longer periods of futility were because the Dbacks spent an entire season with a minimum of basically 3 guaranteed outs in their 9 person lineup. Jeff Mathis, Alex Avila, Nick Ahmed and Steven Souza were all collectively awful last season. Jake Lamb added an uncharacteristically bad year at the plate and the Dbacks were forced to rely on Goldy/Pollock/Peralta very heavily.
This year the lineup won’t strike fear in anyone’s hearts the night before but it has less holes on paper than a year ago and that includes the loss of Souza for the year. If Jake Lamb bounces back, Carson Kelly can swing the stick a bit and Nick Ahmed keeps improving, the lineup will produce enough runs to be at least decent.
Pitching wise, Robbie Ray holds the key between a surprisingly good Dbacks season and a worse than expected year. If he pitches more like 2017 Ray, the team could have two anchors at the top of their rotation that eases the pressure off of everyone else. If he struggles, he might bring the rest of the rotation down with him.
The bullpen should be better with a healthier Archie Bradley, a closer who has a track record in Greg Holland and a pair of very intriguing power arms in Yoan Lopez and Rubby de la Rosa.
Overall, while A LOT has changed from the Diamondbacks of a year ago, the results may be pretty much the same when all 162 games are played.