After back-to-back last-place finishes in the National League West the Arizona Diamondbacks were in dire need of a makeover last winter.
They traded away two-thirds of their starting 2012 outfield, added depth to their bench and bullpen and re-tooled the overall look of their lineup.
The early results have been positive as the Snakes posted a winning record in April (15-12) even with key players (Martin Prado, Miguel Montero) struggling offensively and the bullpen blowing a handful of late-inning leads (nine blown saves entering Thursday’s game). Furthering issues have been key injuries to Adam Eaton, Cody Ross, Didi Gregorius, Willie Bloomquist, Aaron Hill and others.
“The supposed strength which was the bullpen has certainly not delivered,” ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez explained to Brad Cesmat in a recent interview on ‘Big Guy on Sports.’ “That is cause for alarm because bullpens can absolutely crush a season…after awhile it does break your spirit.”
In many instances Arizona has been able to overcome their late-inning deficiencies but the giant elephant in the corner of the room is still there.
“They’ve thrown a lot,” manager Kirk Gibson said describing his fatigued bullpen. “Even beyond today and tomorrow…they’ve thrown a lot of innings.”
Two key reasons for the early season success have been young starters Wade Miley and lefty Patrick Corbin who have combined to go 5-0 in 10 starts. That win total could easily be higher if not for some untimely bullpen collapses. The duo has picked up the slack for Brandon McCarthy and Ian Kennedy who have struggled.
“Miley is proving last year was no rookie fluke,” Gomez said. “I think Miley and Corbin…they seem like they’ve figured it out. They seem like they’re very consistent. There’s a lot of confidence when they take the mound.”
The Diamondbacks have relied on their fielding (best in baseball) and pitching (tied for seventh best team ERA) to set a solid foundation through the first month of season.
With that being said quite a bit can change over the course of the summer as the Dbacks have seen the past couple years.
Here’s hoping recent history doesn’t repeat itself.