San Diego Padres: 2017 NL West Scouting: The Arizona Diamondbacks

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Our scouting of San Diego Padres’ NL West opponents concludes today, as we examine the roster of the Arizona Diamondbacks entering spring training.

Somehow, the San Diego Padres and the Arizona Diamondbacks seem to always find themselves fighting to stay out of the National League West cellar. And while much has changed this offseason, few baseball experts are anticipating anything different from the two clubs in 2017.

Last season, the fight for fourth came down to the final weekend series, in which Arizona sneaked out of the cellar with a sweep. Now, the Padres have revenge on their minds.

In all seriousness though, are the Diamondbacks a legitimate threat to contend in 2017? We take a look at San Diego’s final divisional opponent to round out our series.

Starting Pitching

In a rotation composed of Zack Greinke and four relatively unknown starters, the Diamondbacks have a lot of room to grow. Greinke, of course, is the ace and the veteran on the roster, and at 33 years old, has shown no signs of slowing down. While he had a bit of a down 2016, posting a 4.37 ERA in his first season in Arizona, the ace has shown how capable he is by leading the NL in ERA in 2015 with the Dodgers.

San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres /

San Diego Padres

The concern for the Diamondbacks is the lack of rotation depth. Patrick Corbin, listed fifth on the depth chart, is the only other sign of continuity. But even he, an all star selection in 2013, surrendered 24 home runs and posted an ugly 5.15 ERA in 2016.

The rest of the rotation’s openings figure to be occupied by Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and Shelby Miller. Ages 24, 25, and 26, respectively, these three starters have some upside but little experience. One key for Arizona this season will certainly be getting these hurlers to find some sort of rhythm.

What is most concerning for this group is that they seem to be in decline. The two staples of Arizona’s rotation, Greinke and Corbin, are still capable, but could struggle. For this reason, the Padres will have quite an opportunity this season to put up some runs in these matchups.

Lineup

Of all lineups of National League West clubs, the Diamondbacks have far and away the least name recognition. While starters such as Yasmany Tomás, Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, Jeff Mathis, and David Peralta may not come across as the most menacing at the plate, the Padres must be sure not to overlook this group of hitters. If they do, they will pay.

After all, one of baseball’s best hitters is a Diamondback. Paul Goldschmidt has been selected to the National League’s all-star team four consecutive seasons, totaling 112 home runs during this time. The lineup is centered around the 29-year-old, as he produces nearly a third of the club’s offense on average. If opponents leave runners on base for the superstar, they will find themselves wondering how a lineup like that of Arizona is able to put ten runs on the board.

As intimidating as Goldschmidt is, the good news for the Padres and the rest of the NL West is that the protection around the middle of the order is nearly non existent. A.J. Pollock and Jake Lamb would be considered the next best hitters on the club. And while Lamb was able to pound out 29 long balls in 2016, a career high, these two players combined hit .247 last season.

Bullpen

It will be a season full of late inning drama for the Diamondbacks. With loads of uncertainty in the bullpen, opponents will rarely ever be out of a contest with Arizona.

More from Friars on Base

Young set up relievers such as Randall Delgado, Enrique Burgos, and Andrew Chafin will be experiments for a club searching for stability. Much like the rest of the NL West, including the Padres, the middle innings are far from solidified for the Diamondbacks.

But unlike the Giants and Dodgers, the Diamondbacks are far from set at the closer role. Acquired via free agency on December 9th, Fernando Rodney‘s latest destination is Arizona. The 39-year-old Dominican struggled mightily in the later stages of 2016, finishing with a 5.89 ERA in 36 and 2/3 innings with the Miami Marlins. And as Padres fans can attest to, Rodney is far from stable. It is rare that this personable closer can put forth an easy inning. This, of course, bodes well for everyone but the Diamondbacks.

Next: News Flash, SDUT: Team in Town Called the Padres

If nothing else, the Padres have a real shot to take a step up the National League West ladder by passing Arizona. Besides two superstars in Greinke and Goldschmidt, this club is not moving in the right direction.

This concludes our analysis of San Diego’s National League West opponents. If you missed our other three on the Giants, Rockies, and Dodgers, be sure to check them out!

Go Padres!

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