The Diamondbacks were shaping up as a difficult-to-gauge team heading into the regular season this year. Despite the four-month delay, they still are a club whose prospects are a bit difficult to pin down. The unique 2020 schedule that will see each team play its division mates for 40 of 60 games is both blessing and curse for Arizona. A healthy allotment of matchups against the Giants and Rockies could help the D-Backs rack up some wins, and the Padres may just be a middle-of-the-pack club. However, the Dodgers, odds-on favorites for a World Series championship, will be a tough out.
Arizona had a solid year overall in 2019 despite the offseason departure of Paul Goldschmidt, thanks in large part to multiple breakout individual performances. The D-Backs return many of last season’s key contributors and added capable veteran Kole Calhoun this offseason after he slugged a career-high 33 homers for the Angels a year ago. A perennial .300 hitter earlier in his career, Calhoun has struggled with consistent contact the last two seasons. He’ll serve as a formidable power source in the latter portion of the lineup for Arizona.
Meanwhile, the top five spots in the lineup are in fine shape, especially with a 1-2 Marte punch that could terrorize opposing pitchers during the shortened season. Leadoff hitter Ketel is coming off a career-best 2019 in which he slashed an eye-popping .329/.389/.592 and smacked a career-high 32 home runs. Offseason arrival and projected No. 2 bat Starling boasts eight strong seasons in Pittsburgh on his resume and set new high-water marks in home runs (23), RBI (82) and slugging percentage (.503) in 2019. Then, a 3-4-5 arsenal consisting of Eduardo Escobar (career-high 35 homers in ’19), David Peralta and Christian Walker has the potential to add to the mayhem.
Even with veteran right-hander Mike Leake opting out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, the pitching staff is also in solid shape. It will be spearheaded by offseason acquisition Madison Bumgarner. The big left-hander hasn’t been in peak form in recent years compared to earlier in his career. However, he undeniably remains a quality arm that can be counted on to limit damage and still rack up strikeouts at a solid clip. Robbie Ray and Luke Weaver are rock-solid No. 2 and No. 3 options. No. 4 Zac Gallen, who has impressive swing-and-miss stuff, could be in for a breakout season after a strong debut in ’19 and a stellar minor-league career in the Marlins organization prior to that. Merrill Kelly won 13 games last year in what was his MLB rookie campaign after a three-year stint overseas in the KBO and will fill in for Leake.
A bullpen spearheaded by closer Archie Bradley and complemented by the likes of Junior Guerra, Hector Rondon and Andrew Chafin should certainly hold its own behind the starters, potentially helping vault Arizona to Wild Card contender status.
The Diamondbacks appear to have more than enough hitting to stay in the hunt throughout the shortened season. The rotation may not be quite elite; nevertheless, a resurgent season from Bumgarner combined with Ray, Weaver and Gallen living up to their respective talent could make Arizona a legitimate surprise squad. With some unique variables at play this coming year, taking a flyer on the best price for a division winner futures bet isn’t out of the question. The same applies to pennant and World Series winner wagers — the D-Backs have enough elite hitters to help the club surpass expectations if they get and remain hot and/or teams like the Dodgers suffer key injuries or extended COVID-related absences.
An example of how a wager on the Diamondbacks winning the NL West would pay out at the current odds listed is as follows:
Wager amount: $10.00
Division winner odds: (DraftKings Sportsbook): +900
Payout: $100.00: ($90.00 + original $10.00 bet amount)
Diamondbacks odds: Futures
Diamondbacks betting breakdown
2019 record: 85-77
Key losses: RHP Matt Andriese, C Alex Avila, CF Jarrod Dyson, IF Wilmer Flores, RHP Yoshihisa Hirano, RHP Greg Holland, OF Adam Jones, C Blake Swihart, RHP Taijuan Walker
Injuries: RHP Mike Leake (COVID-19 precaution)
Key additions: LHP Madison Bumgarner, RF Kole Calhoun, RHP Junior Guerra, C John Hicks, RHP Edwin Jackson, OF Jon Jay, OF Starling Marte, IF Brad Miller, RHP Hector Rondon
- 2B Ketel Marte (S)
- CF Starling Marte (R)
- 3B Eduardo Escobar (S)
- LF David Peralta (L)
- 1B Christian Walker (R)
- DH Jake Lamb (L)
- RF Kole Calhoun (L)
- SS Nick Ahmed (R)
- C Carson Kelly (R)
Projected rotation: LHP Madison Bumgarner, LHP Robbie Ray, RHP Luke Weaver, RHP Zac Gallen, RHP Merrill Kelly
Projected closer: RHP Archie Bradley
Bullpen strengths: Archie Bradley spearheads the bullpen. Bradley posted a 3.52 ERA with 87 SO and 18 SV in 71.2 innings (66 gms) with the D-Backs in 2019. Andrew Chafin was another solid arm for Arizona in 2019 with a 3.76 ERA and 68 SO. Offseason acquisition Junior Guerra looks to add even more stability to the bullpen after a 2019 season when he posted a 3.55 ERA and 77 SO in 83.2 innings. Fellow new signee Hector Rondon arrives from the Astros after a solid 2019 with a 3.71 ERA and 48 SO in 60.2 innings. Youngster Kevin Ginkel impressed in 25 games in 2019 with a 1.48 ERA and 28 SO in 24.1 innings. Stefan Crichton also pitched well in his first year with Arizona, posting a 3.56 ERA with 33 SO in 30.1 innings (28 games).
Bullpen weaknesses: Rondon’s aforementioned 2019 numbers were solid, but it was his first season without at least 58 SO since his rookie 2013 campaign.
Key stats from 2019
- Arizona was the only NL team to play on turf in 2019.
- Robbie Ray had 235 SO in 174.1 innings in 2019. Ray joined Chris Sale as the only pitchers in MLB history with at least 200 SO in less than 175 innings in three different seasons.
- Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar homered from both sides of the plate in three games each. Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira were the other pair in MLB history to accomplish the feat, back in 2009.
- The two switch hitters became the second-ever pair of switch-hitting teammates to hit 30 HRs in the same season (Francisco Lindor & Jose Ramirez – Cleveland 2018).
- Ketel Marte was second in the NL to the Brewers’ Christian Yelich in batting average (.329).