The Diamondbacks, and their fans had a dreadful 2014 season, losing a record 98 games. 2015 has been a big improvement. While the Dbacks don’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of winning the NL West, title, they are only 5.0 games behind in the Wild Card Race. Led by Paul Goldschmidt, and several other promising hitters and pitchers, they may surprise the fans and pundits who think they will finish in last place.
Graphic via cbssports
Good News and Bad News
Thanks in large part to their three best hitters, The D’backs are the strongest team in the National League. Paul Goldschmidt ( 1B) leads the league with a .340 average and AJ Pollock, who was named one of ESPN.com’s ”Top 5 first-half surprise guys “ with a .299 average, 42 RBI’s and 11 home runs. David Peralta is hitting .267 this season but has 8 home runs, which matches his season total for 2014.
The fielding percentage is outstanding: .987, which put the D’backs as the third best defensive team in the National League. They only made 42 errors in the first half of the 2015 season. Oddly enough, the excellent fielding underscores the problem with the pitching.
Yes, the pitching staff is erratic. At the midpoint of the 2015 season, they are ranked 13th in the National League. Diamondback pitchers have given up 392 runs, and 371 of those runs were earned. It means the defense was adequate, but pitchers let runners reach base, and they scored. The pitching staff needs work—to give up fewer earned runs.
There’s no easy solution to this problem. Patrick Corbin, a talented pitcher, missed the 2014 season. He looked good last week in the first 4 innings of his start against the Mets, but lost command of his pitches in the 5th. He surrendered three home runs, including a 2 run shot to Matt Harvey, the Mets starting pitcher. Corbin needs to make a few more starts before the front office can decide whether or not he has returned to his previous form.
In a Nutshell
Winning teams have healthy players. These healthy players make all the right defensive plays, and score enough runs to win games. Lucky pitchers get borderline calls from the umpires or get themselves out of trouble. If the Diamondbacks get lucky, play consistently and avoid injury, they have a decent chance at winning the NL Wild Card berth. Either way, finishing the 2015 season at .500 or above would be a major accomplishment.
Once the pitching is as reliable as the hitting and fielding, the Diamondbacks could be the dominant team in the National League West. LA only has a 7.5 game lead over Arizona, and many teams have followed a strong first half with a dismal second half. It’s fairly unrealistic to hope a team with a 42-45 record could win the division title, but the Diamondbacks could earn one of the Wild Card playoff berths if their pitching improves.
Graphic via www.rantsports.com