From 69-win to 93, the Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the most improved teams in 2017 thanks largely to the pitching that went from worst to second in the NL with a 3.66 team ERA.
After a strong season and Wild Card game win, Arizona went out in three games against the Dodgers in the NLDS and have had a long winter to try and get back to October and this time produce better results.
This is much the same team that the D-Backs started with in 2017, but with a rebuilt bullpen. Can the team repeat its 2017 success? Or will they experience some regression?
2017 Record: 93-69
2017 Moneyline Record: +16.56 Units
2017 Over/Under Total Record: 78-79-5
Current Odds To Win NL: +1351
Current Odds To Win NL West: +545
Regular Season Win Total: 85.5
The Diamondbacks had the second-best ERA in the National League and scored the fourth most runs, a combination that led to 93-wins, but only a second-place finish in the NL West.
Starting with the pitching, that’s where this team built most of its 24-game improvement on 2016. After a league worst ERA, the D-Backs improved mostly internally to get to where they are heading into 2018.
In the rotation, Arizona is rolling with Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley, all of whom made at least 25 starts for the Diamondbacks and produced an ERA no higher than Corbin’s 4.03. In fact, the other four pitched to ERAs south of 3.50.
The rotation did most of the heavy lifting for the pitching staff though the bullpen was probably home to the team’s ace: Archie Bradley. Pitching as a versatile middle reliever much of the year, Bradley took the ball in all the high-leverage situations as the season wore on and hurled a 1.73 ERA in 73 innings of work. Fernando Rodney was the closer, but his ERA was 4.23. The rest of the pen was a piece-meal work around them.
The 41-year old Rodney is now in Minnesota, but the Diamondbacks did a good job adding pieces around Bradley who steps into the closer’s role.
Brad Boxberger is a former Rays’ closer who was added via a trade in November and Yoshihisa Hirano is a lesser known add out of Japan who has a strong track record internationally.
Based on the names on the paper, the Arizona pitching staff is the same in the rotation and better in the bullpen. Whether that leads to an improvement over the already impressive 3.66 team ERA remains to be seen, but we can expect the Diamondbacks to pitch well in 2018.
At the plate, Arizona has been a strong team for the last few years. They play in a hitter’s friendly ballpark and have a good lineup.
There’s no doubt they’ll miss J.D. Martinez. He only played in 62 games in the desert, but hit 29 homers and drove in 65 runs with a .302/.366/.741 slash line. That’s impossible to replace, but Steven Souza Jr. will be asked to try.
While Souza doesn’t have the pop—or average—of a guy like Martinez, a full season of Souza could outperform 62 games from Martinez.
The former Ray came into his own last year with a .351 OBP, 30 homers and 16 stolen bases. The right-hander doesn’t hit for much average and does strikeout a bit too much, but he’s still a good bat to slide in behind Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb.
Speaking of Goldschmidt, he remains one of the game’s best. He’ll have another MVP-caliber season in 2018 provided he stays healthy. After all, he’s coming off a .297/.404/.563 season with 36 homers, 120 RBIs, 117 runs and 18 steals. He does it all at the plate and on the base paths.
Beyond Souza, the real key to this offense being excellent or merely good could be A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. The two outfielders are expected to set the table for Goldy, Souza and Lamb in the middle of the order. Lamb, of course, is a strong power bat with 30 homers last year, but also 152 strikeouts and some split issues against southpaws.
As for Pollock and Peralta, neither are big power bats though they could each reach 20 dingers if conditions are right.
Peralta is a higher OBP guy with a .352 OBP last year. Pollock’s got more power. He only hit 14 homers last year, but did so in 112 games. Pollock has played 124 games combined the last two years, but in 2015—his last full season—he produced a 130 OPS+ with 20-homer and 39 steals. If the D-Backs add that kind of offensive player to the lineup in 2018, they could be one dangerous team.
Interestingly, in a time when steals are a lost art, Arizona has a good base running team. Goldschmidt, Pollock, Souza and Ketel Marte are all base stealing threats in the lineup and Chris Owings and Jarrod Dyson both offer a similar threat off the bench.
This team can run, they can hit—both for power and otherwise—and they can get on base. The starting pitching gives them a quality arm every single game and a chance to win every night. The bullpen may be the weakest link in the chain, but the pen is better on paper than the unit that posted a 3.78 ERA.
The Diamondbacks should be a formidable opponent again in 2018, but how well will it navigate a stacked NL West division?
|Baltimore Orioles||Baltimore, Maryland||Oriole Park at Camden Yards|
|Boston Red Sox||Boston, Massachusetts||Fenway Park|
|New York Yankees||New York City, New York||Yankee Stadium|
|Tampa Bay Rays||St. Petersburg, Florida||Tropicana Field|
|Toronto Blue Jays||Toronto, Ontario||Rogers Centre|
|CENTRAL||Chicago White Sox||Chicago, Illinois||Guaranteed Rate Field|
|Cleveland Indians||Cleveland, Ohio||Progressive Field|
|Detroit Tigers||Detroit, Michigan||Comerica Park|
|Kansas City Royals||Kansas City, Missouri||Kauffman Stadium|
|Minnesota Twins||Minneapolis, Minnesota||Target Field|
|WEST||Houston Astros||Houston, Texas||Minute Maid Park|
|Los Angeles Angels||Anaheim, California||Angel Stadium|
|Oakland Athletics||Oakland, California||Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum|
|Seattle Mariners||Seattle, Washington||Safeco Field|
|Texas Rangers||Arlington, Texas||Globe Life Park in Arlington|
|EAST||Atlanta Braves||Atlanta, Georgia||SunTrust Park|
|Miami Marlins||Miami, Florida||Marlins Park|
|New York Mets||New York City, New York||Citi Field|
|Philadelphia Phillies||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania||Citizens Bank Park|
|Washington Nationals||Washington, D.C.||Nationals Park|
|CENTRAL||Chicago Cubs||Chicago, Illinois||Wrigley Field|
|Cincinnati Reds||Cincinnati, Ohio||Great American Ball Park|
|Milwaukee Brewers||Milwaukee, Wisconsin||Miller Park|
|Pittsburgh Pirates||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||PNC Park|
|St. Louis Cardinals||St. Louis, Missouri||Busch Stadium|
|WEST||Arizona Diamondbacks||Phoenix, Arizona||Chase Field|
|Colorado Rockies||Denver, Colorado||Coors Field|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||Los Angeles, California||Dodger Stadium|
|San Diego Padres||San Diego, California||Petco Park|
|San Francisco Giants||San Francisco, California||AT&T Park|
March 29-31: vs Colorado Rockies
April 2-4: vs Los Angeles Dodgers
April 5-8: at St. Louis Cardinals
April 9-11: at San Francisco Giants
April 13-15: at Los Angeles Dodgers
April 17-19: vs San Francisco Giants
April 20-22: vs San Diego Padres
April 24-26: at Philadelphia Phillies
April 27-29: at Washington Nationals
April 30-May 3: vs Los Angeles Dodgers
If you believe in the offseason improvements of the Giants and Phillies, then the month of April looks like a difficult one for the Diamondbacks. Outside of a series with Philadelphia and a couple more with San Francisco, one three-game set in the middle of the month against the Padres is the only one against a sub-.500 team last year.
To begin the year, Arizona is at home against the same Rockies team they beat in a back-and-forth NL Wild Card game last October. Colorado, like the D-Backs, are back again with an improved team looking to build on a major step forward in 2017. After Colorado, they host the Dodgers than travel to St. Louis, San Fran and Los Angeles.
Arizona starts its third series of the year against the Dodgers on April 30 and by the time that series is over, they’ll have played L.A. 10 times and have an excellent idea how they stack up against the division’s top dog from 2017. They were 11-8 against the Dodgers last year.
At Bookmaker Sportsbook you will always find offers various types of betting lines for every Major League regular season game, plus hundreds of futures and baseball prop bets.
Sign up now for your free baseball account, it’s as easy as 1-2-3.
MLB Betting Specials: MLB Sportsbook Bonus
MLB Baseball Odds: Live MLB betting odds
Sports Betting Help: How to bet on sports
Sportsbook Rules: The Sports Betting Rules
Sports Betting deposits: View MLB Baseball Deposit options