The Diamondbacks have spent most of the season in first place in the National League West, battling with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Colorado Rockies in a tough divisional race. Just three games separate the three clubs at this writing, making the stretch run a bit of a free-for-all—not unlike what's happening in the American League West.
Arizona's standing rests largely on their hot start in April; on May 1st they were 20-8, and have payed essentially .500 ball since. They're a better road team than they are in Phoenix (+10 on the road, +3 at home), which is curious given the success of their bullpen. Chase Field is among the most hitter-friendly parks in the Majors, but the D-Backs' relief corps is the best in the big leagues and thus you would think Arizona would have a real home-field advantage, with the opposition shut down in later innings while Snake batters rack up hits. Yet the run differential home and road are nearly identical. What accounts for this? Who knows, but the Mariners will take it.
Their lineup features an elite bat in first baseman Paul Goldshmidt and solid supporting players in outfielders David Peralta and A.J. Pollock. After that it's less impressive, evidenced by the Snakes' ranking 12th of the 15 NL teams in hits and batting average for the season. They are in the middle of the pack when it comes to runs, though, and ultimately that's what wins games. It's the pitching side of things that stands out, especially that top-notch bullpen. The starting rotation is solid, with Zack Greinke, Zack Godley, and All-Star Patrick Corbin leading the way. Godley, Robbie Ray, and Greinke are their scheduled starters for this set.
|ZACK GODLEY VS. SEA (CAREER)
|rest of team||14||.000||.090||.000||0||0|
|Robbie ray Vs. sEA (Career)
|rest of team||18||.071||.222||.071||0||0|
|Zack Greinke vs. SEA (Career)
|rest of team||4||.000||.000||.000||0||0|
Players to Watch
Paul Goldschmidt: A perennial MVP candidate (never won, runner-up twice), the Snakes' first baseman is having a typical year by his standards: elite power, average, and OBP numbers with pretty good defense to boot. He can even steal you a base now and then. If he played in a bigger media market, Goldschmidt might be talked about in the same way Mike Trout is, except good defense at first base is (mostly) less flashy and spectacular than highlight plays in center field. It saves plenty of runs just the same, though—just ask the other infielders who throw to him every day.
A.J. Pollock: A few years ago, Pollock was talked about as one of the best players in the National League. Since 2015, his numbers have declined, but this year he's creeping back up into that conversation. A fine defensive outfielder (Gold Glove in 2015), Pollock is getting on base at a nearly .350 clip in 2018, and his OPS is the best of his 6+ year career. He missed six weeks or so with a broken thumb, lowering his overall numbers, but his home run rate of one every 18 ABs is impressive.
Yoshihisa Hirano: One of the best relievers you've never heard of, Hirano is a key arm in the best bullpen in the Major Leagues. The former Osaka Orix Buffaloes closer was a shrewd get for Arizona, who signed him to a two-year, $6M free-agent contract in December. Hirano's rookie MLB season has been remarkably consistent with his NPB career; since converting to relief in 2010, Hirano averaged 65 innings pitched and a 2.30 ERA with the Buffs, saving 156 games (5 years as closer). His best year was 2016, when he posted a 4-4 record, 31 saves, a 1.92 ERA, and 0.984 WHIP.
Torey Lovullo: In his second year managing the Diamondbacks, Lovullo previously managed minor-league clubs in the Indians and Red Sox organizations and coached with the Blue Jays and Red Sox from 2011-2016. He led the Snakes to a Wild Card berth in his freshman managerial campaign and won NL Manager of the Year for 2017. An infielder in his playing days, Lovullo admits to having to learn to hone his instincts when it comes to pitchers. He's occasionally been burned by allowing his starters to go deeper into games than their effectiveness warranted and has reflected on mistakes. "I should probably pay attention to things a little bit closer and keep a shorter leash" on starters, he said after watching Zack Godley blow a lead in the fifth inning August 19th. On the whole, his payers think well of him and that reflects in their performances. "He brings a lot of energy, good energy, good vibes, and that's good," said outfielder David Peralta. "You can feel it. As a whole team, you can feel it."
Ketel Marte: The other guy in the Taijuan Walker deal, Marte came up with Seattle in 2015 after four years in the Mariners' minor-league system. He played 176 games with the M's in 2015-16 as the regular shortstop, but was felt to be not-ready-for-prime-time, and had there been suitable alternatives on the roster would have spent more time at Triple-A. Sent to the Diamondbacks with Walker for Mitch Haniger and Jean Segura, Marte has served as Arizona's second baseman for the most part, playing adequately in the field and displaying some value offensively, mostly as a baserunner. He's not a stolen base threat—only eight attempts since joining the Snakes—but leads the National League in triples and has no trouble going first-to-third on a typical single. His power potential is better this year than when he was a Mariner—his new home ballpark is possibly a factor there—he's hit more homers this year than in all three of his previous Major League seasons combined.
|Arizona Diamondbacks||(1998 - present)|
|Division Titles:||1999, 2002, 2007, 2011|