Arizona Diamondbacks: Can Snakes’ balance equal a deep playoff run?
The Arizona Diamondbacks are surging, but nobody seems to be talking about them much. BIG mistake!
The Arizona Diamondbacks are not only the hottest team in the National League right now, but a squad that looks primed for a deep playoff run.
The Snakes have won 11 games in a row and hold the top spot in the NL wild card race by a large margin, they also just shellacked the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers in a 13-0 victory at Dodger Stadium. Outfielder J.D. Martinez was the star of the victory, becoming just the 18th player in baseball history to slug four home runs in a single game. 25-year-old lefty Robbie Ray was also dominant, striking out 14 Dodgers over 7.2 innings and taking the win to up his record to 12-5.
This streak has seen Arizona sweep the San Francisco Giants, Colorado Rockies and, most important of all, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Diamondbacks are balanced from top to bottom and could extend their streak to 12 tonight with Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.08 ERA) facing off against Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Simply put, the worst thing any opponent can do to Arizona right now would be to underestimate them.
At the plate
A lot of Arizona’s balance comes from their lineup which ranks seventh in MLB in runs scored, eighth in OPS, and fifth in slugging percentage. These bats have a knack for getting the hits that matter and it doesn’t start and end with Martinez, who has batted .257 with 18 home runs and 40 RBI since being acquired from the Detroit Tigers in July.
How quickly we forget A.J. Pollock who, when not out with an injury, has strong speed and the perfect combination of contact and pop in his bat. There’s also third baseman Jake Lamb, who has 27 home runs and is probably one of the more underrated lefty bats in the game. 25-year-old Brandon Drury only keeps getting better and can also play multiple positions in the infield, not to mention can make an emergency appearance in the outfield if need be.
Headlining Arizona’s lineup is, of course, star first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The soon-to-be 30-year-old has missed the last two games with an elbow issue but is still having another phenomenal season. Goldschmidt is batting .314 with 33 home runs and 109 RBI and an excellent .424 OBP, and he has 17 steals to boot! His WAR is at 6.3 and he would easily be front and center in the NL MVP conversation were it not for the red-hot Giancarlo Stanton.
Throw in guys like David Peralta and veteran catcher Chris Iannetta, and this is a lineup that could easily make some noise in October.
On the mound
It also helps that on top of a strong lineup, Arizona has an arguably stronger pitching staff. The Diamondbacks currently rank third in the Majors with a staff ERA of 3.59 and sixth with 71 quality starts.
Greinke and Ray are joined in the rotation by some fine young arms, namely right-hander Taijuan Walker. The 25-year-old was acquired from the Seattle Mariners during the offseason as part of the Jean Segura trade and has gone 8-7 with a 3.42 ERA in 23 starts this year. His win total is low, but his ceiling is still high and his 2.8 WAR is the highest it’s been since he became a regular starter back in 2015.
Arizona also has southpaw Patrick Corbin, who has 13 wins to go with a 3.83 ERA and is finally looking like his former self after struggling to a 5.15 ERA last season. Zack Godley provides more consistency on the mound and prospect Anthony Banda will be strong in his own right once he adjusts to major league hitters.
The two combined
The combination of a pitching staff capable of putting up quality starts night after night along with a lineup with so many different weapons makes the Arizona Diamondbacks a serious contender in this year’s race for the World Series. This is just one major hot streak in particular, but the fact that the Diamondbacks have swept the MLB-best Los Angeles Dodgers during it and also heavily defeated them at home is more than just good luck.
Between Goldschmidt, Greinke, Martinez and every other strong talent on this team, Arizona baseball is about to get a lot more attention in the coming weeks.
Simply put, don’t sleep on this squad under any circumstances.