The best way I can describe the Arizona Diamondbacks this year is 'inert'. They didn't have any truly terrible look, they retained almost all of their strong pieces, but they were just never a real match to compete. So they just kept puttering along, doing their thing, and the rest of the season is kind of going on without them really factoring into things.
It sucks, cause this is actually a pretty decent team. I trust almost all of the lineup with an at-bat, especially now that Jake McCarthy is finally hitting. He, Daulton Varsho, Josh Rojas and Alex Thomas have all stepped up big time this year and make me a bit more confident about what this team will look like going forward. I'm also intrigued by how well Emmanuel Rivera is doing so far. He could definitely be a nice infield depth piece going forward. I still really think the Royals shouldn't have let him go, especially in exchange for someone as inconsequential as Luke Weaver.
The rotation, even with Madison Bumgarner's late-season woes, is also a strong asset. Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen seem to be sticking around, and they both had amazing seasons. Zach Davies may not be back next year but he's had a strong enough year as an innings-eater. And recently the D-Backs have been enjoying the presence of Tommy Henry, who has a 2-2 record and a 3.57 ERA in 4 starts. Henry, Gallen and Kelly could pave the way for a nice stretch of seasons for this team if they stay this good and this healthy. And yes, they do have Bumgarner for a few more years, even if he's been a bit more spotty recently.
It honestly makes you wish some of the edges of this team weren't so unsanded. There's a lot of messy bullpen pieces, a few young guys who won't hit, and some other minor factors. Carson Kelly has proven that he's a great catcher, but he spent a bit too much time on the IL this year, meaning Jose Herrera had to start a lot of games behind the plate. Mark Melancon can still close games, but apparently not without a high ERA. Nick Ahmed's elite years seemed to have ended. Though, I will admit, getting Christian Walker down from his usual strikeout percentage was a nice touch.
There's still a lot of good things going on for the Diamondbacks, and I'd love for this team to make the most of it, but I don't know if they have enough room to really get there with the NL West being as perpetually crowded as it is. Maybe I'm wrong and they go flying right out of the gate next year, but it's gonna take something huge.
Coming Tonight: In 2020, the pitching held this team back from competing. In 2021, the pitching wasn't an issue. Here is a pitcher I hadn't heard of til a few weeks ago when I had to make customs. Take a wild guess where we're at.