By Nick Smith
Hope is supposed to spring eternal for baseball fans at the start of the season. But according to ESPN baseball analyst Pedro Gomez, Arizona Diamondback fans might not even be able to have that this season.
“I’d be shocked if they win half their games,” said Gomez, responding to Brad Cesmat’s prediction of an 84-win season for the Diamondbacks. “I’m a guy who believes you go as far as your starting pitching.”
That starting rotation is the elephant in the room when it comes to Arizona’s chances for success this season. Josh Collmenter will be the team’s ace and Opening Day starter. Chase Anderson, Rubby De La Rosa, Jeremy Hellickson and likely Archie Bradley round out the rotation. The former first-round pick seems like a natural choice after Arizona traded Trevor Cahill to the Atlanta Braves for minor league outfielder Josh Elander.
“The fact that they had only two of their five starters until [Monday] or the day before when they announced the other three,” noted Gomez. “That’s an indication that there’s a major, major problem.”
Compounding the problem is the fact that starting pitching isn’t exactly lacking for Arizona’s division rivals, with whom the D-backs play nearly half of their games. Gomez believes this is one of the major reasons the team will struggle this upcoming season.
“You play a good chunk of your games in the National League West,” Gomez said. “That means you get Clayton Kershaw three or four times, you’re going to get Zack Greinke three or four times. James Shields, Madison Bumgarner. I don’t know that they can match up with that level of pitching.”
Despite the bad news, Gomez stresses that the plan for the team will simply take time. Chip Hale will be in his first season as the manager of the team, as will Dave Stewart as General Manager. Diamondbacks chief baseball operator Tony La Russa, who is at the head of much of the change around the team, is in only his second season. All of it adds up to an organization with some of its’ most important positions starting anew.
“Theo Epstein could walk on water when he came to the Cubs,” recalled Gomez. “This is year four of him being in Chicago and just now is the first time that there is hope. It’s just going to take time.”