2nd Half Storylines for the Arizona Diamondbacks
By Thomas Lynch
Paul Goldschmidt is reason alone to watch the D’backs in the second half. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Thanks (or no thanks?) to a new era in Major League Baseball, the All-Star Break has been extended to four days. The season will not resume until Friday night which means no TV baseball tonight, not even a Minor League All-Star Game. For the Arizona Diamondbacks, perhaps the extra day is welcome rest for a team that had a miserable first part of the season. While October baseball seems like a distant notion for the last place D’backs, there will be plenty of reasons to watch this team between now and the end of the season. Here are some things to look out for as we witness the return of Trevor Cahill tomorrow night.
Will the roster be deconstructed some more? Injuries and ineffectiveness contributed to seven players making their MLB debuts in 2014. We have already seen Brandon McCarthy traded and Cahill be designated for assignment. The most common names being thrown out for trade consideration are Aaron Hill and Martin Prado. While most people assume the team to be sellers over the next two weeks, management will not just give anyone away, especially not Prado who is once again heating up and whose versatility makes him quite attractive. Given the emergence of David Peralta, Cody Ross may find himself a new home relatively soon. Same goes for Cliff Pennington once he returns from the disabled list.
As the world turns at shortstop. The D’backs are also expected to move one of their highly-regarded shortstops, most likely not until the offseason. Injuries to Pennington and Chris Owings has necessitated the return of Didi Gregorius and the debut of Nick Ahmed. For as long as the other two guys are on the disabled list, it will be a platoon at short for Ahmed and Gregorius. How well each man plays will determine what kind of player the D’backs get in a potential trade. There will be plenty of potential landing spots including either New York team.
The return of A.J. Pollock. At the time of his injury, there may not have been a hotter player in the National League than Pollock. He was poised to win his second Player of the Week award when he was hit by a pitch on May 31st. It turned out Pollock suffered a broken hand which required surgery. He is expected to return in mid-August and we are hopeful that he can resume his torrid pace. Pollock could have been a third Arizona representative at this week’s All-Star Game.
Wade Miley is finally pitching like an ace. One of the biggest reasons why the D’backs are stuck in last place is that no pitcher stepped into the shoes of Patrick Corbin. Miley was thought to have been that guy but he struggled mightily over the first half of the season. However, the 26-year old left handed has been tremendous over the last month. He has given up only three earned runs over this last three starts, with the last two outings the only games the D’backs would win in their series against the Braves and Giants. Expect him to pitch more like the guy who won 26 games in his first two full seasons.
Monitoring Chase Anderson. One of the more pleasant surprises this season has been the emergence of the right-handed rookie. He made his MLB debut on May 11th by giving up only one run in five and a third innings. Anderson is 6-4 with a 3.64 ERA in his first ten starts. The team is being very cautious with him; he has already been skipped a turn in the rotation. Last year, he threw only 88 innings at Triple A Reno between starting and relieving and the highest number he has thrown in a season in the Minors 108 1/3. He is at 54 1/3 with the D’backs.
Paul Goldschmidt. Isn’t it nice to have one of the best position players in baseball on your team? No matter how bad this season has been, it has been a pleasure to watch Goldschmidt get his three or four at-bats per game. While there will be no MVP talk in 2014, that doesn’t mean he won’t have another monster season. He has an outside chance at breaking the single season record for doubles and will be again among the league leaders in RBI’s, hits and runs scored. Every Snakes’ game is must see-TV because of Goldschmidt.