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Few teams in baseball may benefit from the mad dash 60-game season as the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’re (still) looking up at the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but the shorter the season, the better their chances to have a Cinderella run. The 60-game season equals hope.
Cron and Lamb could form a sneaky-excellent DH platoon. Lamb is a career .250/.345/.468 hitter against righties and Cron, C.J.’s younger brother, hit 44 home runs 121 games between Triple-A and MLB last season. His .777 Triple-A slugging percentage was the highest in the minors in at least four decades. The D-Backs have depth throughout the lineup — Kelly, the projected No. 9 hitter, slashed .245/.348/.478 in 2019 — and a solid bench, which includes hit-by-pitch king Locastro (22 HBP in 250 PA last year). Utility men Josh Rojas and Andy Young may see time on the MLB roster this season as well.
32.8%

Win total projection, odds

  • 2020 Sportsline projection: 33-27
  • World Series odds (via William Hill Sportsbook): 50/1
  • 2019 record: 85-77

Projected lineup

  1. CF Starling Marte
  2. 2B Ketel Marte
  3. 3B Eduardo Escobar
  4. LF David Peralta
  5. 1B Christian Walker
  6. RF Kole Calhoun
  7. SS Nick Ahmed
  8. DH Jake Lamb
  9. C Carson Kelly

Last season’s roster was not bad at anything. At worst, they were league average at the plate and on the mound, though they were among the game’s best on the bases and in the field. To that roster they added (Starling) Marte. Bumgarner, and a full season of Gallen. The only significant loss is a half-season of Zack Greinke. Gallen’s walk rate (10.8 percent) can be chalked up to inexperience rather than a longstanding control issues (career 6.4 percent walk rate in the minors), and he missed bats at an above-average rate with five pitches last season:

Projected rotation

  1. LHP Madison Bumgarner
  2. LHP Robbie Ray
  3. RHP Luke Weaver
  4. RHP Zac Gallen
  5. RHP Merrill Kelly

Changeup

Projected bullpen

The D-Backs were not eliminated from postseason contention until the final week of the regular season in 2019. Sportsline gives them the third-highest win projection (33) in the National League this year, trailing only the Dodgers (40) and Nationals (35). Their roster may lack the name recognition of those teams, but make no mistake, the D-Backs’ whole is greater than the sum of the parts and they are a dangerous team in a short season.

Schedule

Date OPP Time / TV Venue
Jul 24, 2020 @ San Diego 9:10 pm Petco Park
Jul 25, 2020 @ San Diego 9:10 pm  Petco Park
Jul 26, 2020 @ San Diego 4:10 pm Petco Park
Jul 27, 2020 @ San Diego 4:10 pm Petco Park
Jul 28, 2020 @ Texas 9:05 pm Globe Life Field
Jul 29, 2020 @ Texas 4:05 pm Globe Life Field
Jul 30, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Chase Field
Jul 31, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 1, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 8:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 2, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 4:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 4, 2020 vs Houston 9:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 5, 2020 vs Houston 9:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 6, 2020 vs Houston 7:07 pm  Chase Field
Aug 7, 2020 @ San Diego 9:10 pm Petco Park
Aug 8, 2020 @ San Diego 9:10 pm Petco Park
Aug 9, 2020 @ San Diego 4:10 pm Petco Park
Aug 10, 2020 @ Colorado 8:40 pm Coors Field
Aug 11, 2020 @ Colorado 8:40 pm Coors Field
Aug 12, 2020 @ Colorado 3:10 pm Coors Field
Aug 14, 2020 vs San Diego 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 15, 2020 vs San Diego 8:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 16, 2020 vs San Diego 4:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 17, 2020 vs Oakland 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 18, 2020 vs Oakland 6:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 19, 2020 @ Oakland 9:40 pm RingCentral Coliseum
Aug 20, 2020 @ Oakland 9:40 pm RingCentral Coliseum
Aug 21, 2020 @ San Francisco 9:45 pm  Oracle Park
Aug 22, 2020 @ San Francisco 9:15 pm Oracle Park
Aug 23, 2020 @ San Francisco 4:10 pm Oracle Park
Aug 24, 2020 vs Colorado 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 25, 2020 vs Colorado 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 26, 2020 vs Colorado 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 27, 2020 vs Colorado 6:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 28, 2020 vs San Francisco 9:40 pm Chase Field
Aug 29, 2020 vs San Francisco 8:10 pm Chase Field
Aug 30, 2020 vs San Francisco 4:10 pm Chase Field
Sep 1, 2020 @ L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Dodger Stadium
Sep 2, 2020 @ L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Dodger Stadium
Sep 3, 2020 @ L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Dodger Stadium
Sep 4, 2020 @ San Francisco 9:45 pm Oracle Park
Sep 5, 2020 @ San Francisco 9:15 pm Oracle Park
Sep 6, 2020 @ San Francisco 4:05 pm Oracle Park
Sep 7, 2020 @ San Francisco 8:05 pm Oracle Park
Sep 8, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Chase Field
Sep 9, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Chase Field
Sep 10, 2020 vs L.A. Dodgers 9:40 pm Chase Field
Sep 11, 2020 vs Seattle 9:40 pm Chase Field
Sep 12, 2020 vs Seattle 8:10 pm Chase Field
Sep 13, 2020 vs Seattle 4:10 pm Chase Field
Sep 15, 2020 @ L.A. Angels 9:40 pm  Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Sep 16, 2020 @ L.A. Angels 9:40 pm Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Sep 17, 2020 @ L.A. Angels 4:10 pm Angel Stadium of Anaheim
Sep 18, 2020 @ Houston 8:10 pm Minute Maid Park
Sep 19, 2020 @ Houston 7:10 pm Minute Maid Park
Sep 20, 2020 @ Houston 2:10 pm Minute Maid Park
Sep 22, 2020 vs Texas 9:10 pm  Chase Field
Sep 23, 2020 vs Texas 6:10 pm Chase Field
Sep 25, 2020 vs Colorado 9:40 pm Chase Field
Sep 26, 2020 vs Colorado 8:10 pm Chase Field
Sep 27, 2020 vs Colorado 3:10 pm Chase Field

Two Martes are better than one

Cutter
27.4%
Bench: C Stephen Vogt, 1B Kevin Cron, UTIL Ildemaro Vargas, OF Jon Jay, OF Tim Locastro 33.3%

A breakout star in the rotation

The D-Backs have a major sleeper in Zac Gallen. USATSI

“We think he’s a fantastic baseball player,” Hazen said following the Marte (Starling, not Ketel) trade. “He has power. He can hit for average. He is a very good athlete. Plays a very good outfield, center field as well. And he fits a lot of what we’re trying to do.”
Curveball “In any run of baseball in a short season, chaos can ensue,” D-Backs GM Mike Hazen said in a conference call prior to summer camp last month. “I’m excited for it. I think it is going to be fantastic. Would it be better if we were playing 162 (games)? Yeah, but that sailed a long time ago. I think it is going to be high intensity.”  

Swing & Miss Rate MLB Average
Marte split last season between second base and center field, and while the versatility is appreciated, the D-Backs want him to get settled in at one spot. So, on Jan. 27, Arizona sent two prospects to the Pirates for Starling Marte (no relation). Starling will play center field and Ketel will play second base full-time. Now he can focus his efforts on one position and that might even help his bat as well. Ketel possibly having another level to his game is exciting. The D-Backs have some questions at the back of the rotation — Leake opted out, Kelly was demoted to the bullpen last year, and Corbin Martin is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — but Gallen is a potential breakout player behind Bumgarner, Ray, and Weaver. Don’t be surprised if he is the team’s best starter come the end of the season, the same way Bieber emerged as Cleveland’s best starter last year despite sharing a rotation with bigger names. 15.5%
30.7% Starling missed the start of summer camp for undisclosed reasons but has since joined the team, and is on track to be ready for the start of the regular season. He authored a .295/.342/.503 batting line last season and remains a good defender, though he’s slipped a bit since his days as a Gold Glover. Even still, the D-Backs added an impact player and gave Ketel a permanent position. The trade helped Arizona in more ways than one. Similarly, Gallen was a good but not truly elite pitching prospect despite eye-popping minor league numbers. He had a very good partial rookie season in 2019 and is in position to have a breakout 2020. Gallen threw 80 innings with a 2.81 ERA and 96 strikeouts with the Marlins and D-Backs last season. Arizona acquired him for shortstop prospect Jazz Chisholm at the deadline.
31.1% Mike Leake became the first player to opt out of the 2020 season a few weeks ago, opening a rotation spot for Kelly, who was fine in his return from Korea last year. Bumgarner is the big name, obviously — he reportedly took less money to go to Arizona — but Gallen could finish the season as the team’s best starter. We’ll have more on him in a bit. Weaver missed time with an elbow injury last season and, should the D-Backs need another starter at some point, righties Taylor Clarke and Jon Duplantier, and lefty Alex Young, are the first line of defense. Sinker
My pick for this year’s Shane Bieber: Zac Gallen. Bieber was a good but not truly elite pitching prospect despite eye-popping minor-league numbers, and he parlayed his solid partial rookie season in 2018 into a breakout 2019. He threw 214 1/3 innings with a 3.28 ERA and 259 strikeouts. Bieber finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting in his first full MLB season. Four-seam fastball 23.7%
24.9% The Nov. 2016 trade with the Mariners has looked good and bad for both teams at different times, and, right now, the D-Backs are the clear winner because Ketel Marte is a bona fide superstar. The 26-year-old hit .329/.389/.592 with 32 home runs last season, earning him a fourth-place finish in the NL MVP voting. Marte had the 16th-lowest strikeout rate in baseball (13.7 percent) and the sixth-highest slugging percentage. It’s an elite combination of power and contact. That said, beating out the Dodgers in the NL West will take a minor miracle. The D-Backs’ best 60-game stretch last year was 34-26. The Dodgers’ worst was 35-25. In a short season though, who knows? Maybe Arizona can end LA’s reign atop the division. If not, the club figures to be in the wild card hunt all year, and if the D-Backs make it to October, opponents will have their hands full with the Bumgarner-Gallen duo.

“He has a number of weapons,” Hazen told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert in February. “He’s got really good stuff, he’s a really good competitor and a really good strike thrower. Those were the really big things we liked about him.”
The D-Backs have a legitimate superstar in (Ketel) Marte and Bumgarner is certainly a big name. Otherwise Hazen and his staff have built a roster loaded with solid contributors and no glaring weaknesses. Last year’s ranks tells the story of the roster:

No glaring weaknesses

The D-Backs have opted to throw numbers at their bullpen rather than invest in one or two big names and hey, that’s a sound strategy. Even the best relievers can be hard to predict from one year to the next. Righties Artie Lewicki and James Sherfy, and lefty Matt Grace and Joe Mantiply, are the notable depth relievers on the 60-man player pool. Righty Taylor Widener is a sleeper despite his ugly Triple-A numbers last year (8.10 ERA in 100 innings) because he can really spin the baseball and he finished second in the minors in strikeouts in 2018.

  • 13th in hitting WAR
  • 1st in baserunning WAR
  • 5th in fielding WAR
  • 13th in rotation WAR
  • 14th in bullpen WAR

40.7%
Of course, the D-Backs are a legitimate postseason contender even if the Dodgers run away with the division title again. Arizona is a strong bet to chase a wild card spot and the team made several significant additions over the winter without suffering any significant losses. Let’s preview the 2020 season in the desert.
21.8%