The Arizona Diamondbacks were close last season, so close. The Diamondbacks were in the National League Wild-Card race late into September before falling four games short. They didn’t sit around and wait to get better in 2020, though; they went out and got players to close that gap.
General Manager Mike Hazen made a big trade, signed a big free agent, and re-signed two of the hitters from his starting nine.
Arizona has its hands full trying to chase down the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West, but with the playoff field expanded to 16 teams, the Diamondbacks should be in great shape to return to October baseball.
The BetUS World Series odds have Arizona at +4500, right in the middle of the pack in the National League. The betting odds aren’t great for the Diamondbacks, but being in the same division with the overall favorite will do that.
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Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 Results
In their third season under manager Torey Lovullo, the Diamondbacks went 85-77 in 2019, which was good enough for second in the NL West. Second in the division was still 21 games behind the Dodgers.
After starting 1-3 in March, Arizona went 16-10 in April but stumbled to an 11-17 May record. They got back into contention with a 15-13 June but went 11-12 in July.
That July result put the Diamondbacks under .500, and they traded ace Zack Greinke to Houston for four prospects at the deadline. They also sent their own top prospect, Jazz Chisholm, to Miami for starting pitcher Zac Gallen and acquired right-handed pitcher Mike Leake from Seattle.
Arizona got back into the Wild-Card race with a 16-11 August and won 11 of 12 to get to within one game of the playoffs. A six-game losing streak ended the Diamondbacks’ hopes, even winning eight of the final 10 wasn’t enough.
Arizona went 44-37 at home last season and 41-40 on the road. They were 38-38 inside the NL West and 14-6 against the American League.
Arizona Diamondbacks Key Additions
Arizona made three major moves. It signed former San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner to a five-year, $85 million deal and also signed outfielder Kole Calhoun to a two-year, $16 million deal. In January, the DBacks traded prospects, Liover Peguero and Brennan Malone, plus international bonus money to Pittsburgh for outfielder Starling Marte.
Bumgarner went 9-9 with the Giants while leading the league with 34 starts. He posted a 3.90 ERA over 207 innings and struck out 203. The 2014 World Series and NLCS MVP has four top-10 Cy Young finishes and 119 career wins over 11 seasons in the majors.
Calhoun played 152 games for the Los Angeles Angels in 2019, batting .232/.325/.467 with a career-high 33 home runs. He drove in 74 runs, scored 92 times and collected 29 doubles while playing mostly right field.
Marte set career highs in home runs (23), RBI (82) and runs scored (97) in 2019 for the Pirates. He hit .295/.342/.503 and added 31 doubles and 25 stolen bases. Marte has two career Gold Gloves, and he made the NL All-Star team in 2016.
The Diamondbacks made a couple of low-key additions as well with catcher Stephen Vogt from the Giants, right-handed pitcher Hector Rondon from Houston and right-handed pitcher Junior Guerra from Milwaukee.
Vogt played 99 games as a backup catcher and pinch-hitter, batting .263/.314/.490 with 10 homers, 24 doubles and 40 RBI.
Rondon pitched 62 times for Houston, going 3-2 with a 3.71 ERA over 60 2/3 innings. A former closer with the Chicago Cubs from 2014-16, Rondon has a career 9.0 K/9 ratio and has pitched at least 60 games in five of the last six seasons.
Guerra pitched 72 times for the Brewers, his first season as a reliever. He went 9-5 with a 3.55 ERA and three saves while striking out 77 batters in 83 2/3 innings.
Arizona Diamondbacks Big Losses
The biggest losses for the Diamondbacks in the offseason were infielder Wilmer Flores, and outfielders Adam Jones and Jarrod Dyson.
Flores played in 89 games with a .317/.361/.487 batting line. He added nine homers and 18 doubles before staying in the division with the Giants.
As a 33-year-old, Jones appeared in 137 games, batting .260/.313/.414. He had 16 homers, 25 doubles and 67 RBI before signing with Oriz in the Japan League.
Dyson, a speedster, hit .230/.313/.320 with a team-high 30 stolen bases. He hit seven homers and 11 doubles while scoring 65 runs before signing with the Pirates.
Arizona also lost backup catcher Alex Avila to Minnesota. The veteran catcher hit .207/.353/.421 lwith nine homers and eight doubles.
Two other players left as well, but outfielder Steven Souza and pitcher Taijuan Walker missed 2019 through injuries. Souza played in 72 games in 2018 and hit 30 homers in his last full season with Arizona in 2017. Walker logged 14 innings the last two seasons after going 9-9 for Arizona in 2017.
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitching
After Bumgarner as the ace, the Diamondbacks planned on Mike Leake slotting in, but the veteran right-hander decided to opt out during the COVID pandemic.
Lefty Robbie Ray moves into the two-slot after going 12-8 and posting a 4.34 ERA in 33 starts. He struck out a team-high 235 batters over 174 1/3 innings as a 27-year-old.
Gallen split his rookie season between Miami and Arizona, going 3-6 with a 2.81 ERA over 15 starts. The 24-year-old struck out 96 over 80 innings and posted a 1.23 WHIP. With Arizona, he was 2-3 with a 2.89 ERA in eight starts over August and September.
Right-hander Luke Weaver made 12 starts while battling injuries in 2019. When on the mound, he was solid with a 4-3 record and a 2.94 ERA. The 26-year-old struck out 69 and walked just 14 over 64 1/3 innings.
Right-hander Merrill Kelly led the 2019 Diamondbacks in wins, losses and innings pitched. He went 13-14 with a 4.42 ERA over 32 starts and struck out 158 batters in 183 1/3 innings.
Lefty Alex Young is a swing guy with 15 starts in which he went 7-5 with a 3.56 ERA. Young struck out 71 batters in 83 1/3 innings.
Archie Bradley returns as the closer after taking the job from Greg Holland. In 66 games, the righty went 4-5 with a 3.52 ERA and 18 saves.
Guerra and Rondon join Yoan Lopez as bullpen right-handers. Lopez went 2-7 lwith a 3.41 ERA in 70 appearances.
Andrew Chafin will handle lefties out of the pen after leading the team in appearances last year at 77. He went 2-2 with a 3.76 ERA while striking out 68 batters in 52 2/3 innings.
Arizona Diamondbacks Offense
Lovullo has versatile players and bench options. A typical Arizona lineup for 2020 should look like this: CF Starling Marte, 2B Ketel Marte, 3B Eduardo Escobar, LF David Peralta, 1B Christian Walker, RF Kole Calhoun, SS Nich Ahmed, DH Jake Lamb, C Carson Kelly.
Ketel Marte had a breakout season in 2019 that included an All-Star selection and fourth-place finish in the NL MVP voting. A versatile player, Marte hit .329/.389/.592 with 32 home runs, 92 RBI, 36 doubles, 97 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Marte played 96 games in centerfield, 83 at second base and 11 at shortstop.
Escobar led the Diamondbacks with 35 home runs and 118 RBI last season while batting .269/.320/.511. He added 29 doubles and 94 runs scored as a switch-hitting third baseman.
Peralta inked a three-year contract extension after batting .275/.343/.461 and winning a Gold Glove last season. He had 12 homers, 29 doubles and 57 RBI over 99 games.
Walker replaced Paul Goldschmidt at first base and clubbed 29 home runs. The 29-year-old drove in 73 runs and added 26 doubles while batting .259/.348/.476.
Ahmed signed a four-year extension with the Diamondbacks. He hit .254/.316/.437 last year while adding 19 homers, 33 doubles and 82 RBI.
Lamb, a corner infielder, hit six home runs in 2019 and drove in 30 runs over 78 games. The 29-year-old hit just .193/.323/.353.
Kelly has established himself as a strong defensive catcher and added pop in 2019 with 18 homers, 19 doubles and 47 RBI in 111 games. The 25-year-old hit .245/.348/.478.
Off the bench, the Diamondbacks have Vogt, veteran Jon Jay and youngsters Ildemaro Vargas, Kevin Cron and Tim Locastro.
Arizona Diamondbacks Three Key Players
It will be fun to watch the Martes lead the Diamondbacks lineup. Arizona needs a big season out of Starling as he joins the team and takes over the leadoff spot and center field. Adding pop to the lineup and the ability to get on base will be a big difference in Arizona making the playoffs.
Bumgarner was given the big contract to lead the rotation. He brings experience and a winning pedigree to a relatively young starting staff. Bumgarner went just 9-9 last year on a 75-win San Francisco team, and the Diamondbacks expect 10 to 12 strong starts out of the veteran left-hander.
Can Ketel Marte do it again? His 2019 season was his fifth in the majors and saw a massive jump across all statistical categories. Marte went up 18 homers, 33 RBI, 10 doubles, 30 runs scored and 69 points in batting average despite playing nine fewer games than he did in 2018. Now he needs to prove that 2019 wasn’t a fluke.
Arizona Diamondbacks Schedule Breakdown
The Diamondbacks went .500 in the division last year, and now they play 40 of their 60 games against the NL West. The other 20 games come against the AL West.
Arizona started with four at San Diego and two at Texas before the home opener. The DBacks will play both the Rockies and Dodgers seven times at home while traveling to the Padres and Giants seven times.
Arizona was matched as a rival with the defending AL champion Astros, so it plays Houston six times, three in each city. The DBacks will not travel to Seattle and don’t play host to the Los Angeles Angels.
The Diamondbacks’ MLB regular-season wins odds have them at 30.5 wins, the second-highest total in the NL West behind the Dodgers. Finishing with 30.5 wins projects out to just under the 85 wins the team had last season.
With Starling Marte, Bumgarner, and Calhoun on the roster, the Diamondbacks should be improved. The bullpen also appears to be stronger, and a young rotation behind Bumgarner will be a key to a playoff appearance.