Thursday, June 14, 2018

Spare Parts in Phoenix

When last I spoke of the Diamondbacks, they were floundering in second as the Rockies gained first in a tumultuously close NL West. Now? After a FANTASTIC week of mowing down softer teams like the Reds, Marlins, and...yes, Rockies, they are back in 1st place, and the stronghold of old has returned.

You can attribute this success not to the core of the lineup, but to the addition of several 'spare parts' to the mix certainly must have something to do with it. The chief most of which is Daniel Descalso, who originally came in as a replacement for an injured Jake Lamb, now floating between 2nd and 3rd at Chris Owings' leisure. He's been gaining traction as a utility/bench player since his starting days in St. Louis, and while he may not have his 2011 clout, he's still pretty good this year.

Jeff Mathis and Alex Avila, the team's usual catching options, have been lackluster thus far this year, so the Diamondbacks went and got former Yankee backup J.R. Murphy. In 41 games, Murphy has had 8 home runs, despite not being a pristine backstop. He's better than the alternatives, especially at the plate, and may be the answer for the long haul.

Jon Jay was snatched from Kansas City due to the injury to A.J. Pollock, and has been doing alright, though his numbers will probably improve the more games he plays. They probably just needed a steady, versatile defensive outfielder, which Jay definitely is.

When Robbie Ray went on the DL, the D-Backs searched far and wide for another young arm to fill the void. Instead, they landed Clay Buchholz, once thought washed-up (at least we all did after his non-season for Philly last year). Buchholz has been pitching particularly well in 5 starts, with a low ERA, high enough strikeout level. He's definitely tanked more for bigger teams, which is making his solid work so far so enjoyable for Arizona. Once Ray returns, I imagine he'll stay with the rotation, unless Matt Koch improves.

The rest of the roster has also improved. Paul Goldschmidt is finally working on hitting for average, Archie Bradley is still intimidating as heck in the ninth, Jake Lamb is working on getting his power back, David Peralta is still helping carry the team, and the core rotation 3 of Corbin, Greinke and Godley are all still great.

This is a team that saw the disaster approaching, stopped, pivoted, and worked towards becoming fantastic again. Even with the Dodgers trying to get back to 1st, the Diamondbacks will look to stay strong at the top, and continue the dominance hinted at in April.

This team could top the 2017 squad. And it's only gonna get better from here.

Coming Tonight: He's leading his team in home runs in his first season there, which gets a lot more disappointing once you realize what team it is.

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