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Arizona Diamondbacks: Where Does Jake Lamb Go From Here?

By Randy Holt
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Jake Lamb #22 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is unable to field a ground ball hit by Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) for the Cubs' first hit of the game during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field on July 24, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 24: Jake Lamb #22 of the Arizona Diamondbacks is unable to field a ground ball hit by Ian Happ #8 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) for the Cubs' first hit of the game during the fourth inning at Wrigley Field on July 24, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /
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The Arizona Diamondbacks were able to get one of the key trade pieces before Tuesday’s non-waiver deadline. Little did they know how important that acquisition would be.

When the team acquired Eduardo Escobar, the assumption was that he would allow the Arizona Diamondbacks to exploit certain matchups. He’d roll against left-handed pitching at third base, with Jake Lamb sitting. Against righties, Lamb would get the start at third, with Escobar going at shortstop for Nick Ahmed. Torey Lovullo will have no such luck, however.

News broke on Thursday that Jake Lamb would be out for the season, as he’s set to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. For a player that just hasn’t been able to stay healthy in 2018, and has had his share of injuries over the past few seasons, it’s a big blow. The hope is that it’ll be better for him long-term, of course.

However, that doesn’t necessarily soften the blow of Lamb’s absence, as well as how his lack of health has hindered this team throughout the year. At the end of all of this, Lamb was only able to notch 238 plate appearances on the year. And his performance when he was on the field wasn’t exactly stellar.

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In fact, in a statistical sense, Lamb was about the worst he’s been since he first reached the big league level back in 2014. He was only worth 0.3 WAR, with his offense providing negative value. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise, with a line that featured a .222 average and .307 OBP, along with a devastatingly low .126 ISO. His strikeout rate, at 27.3%, was high even by his standards. Obviously much of that, if not all, is entirely the result of limitations presented by his injury.

So where exactly does Jake Lamb go from here? We know he’s a more-than-capable power bat when healthy. But health has been something of an issue for him, though not always his fault. In any case, a change likely isn’t coming for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the hot corner anytime soon.

Lamb is under team control for another two years. He’s a plus-power bat, when healthy. He’ll typically give you at least average defense at the position. He has his shortcomings against lefties, sure, but Torey Lovullo can work the matchups in that case. As such, this is a good time for Lamb to get healthy and bounce back in 2019.

As for where the Arizona Diamondbacks go, the move for Eduardo Escobar now becomes completely essential. He’ll likely take over as the everyday third baseman, with maybe Daniel Descalso getting the occasional start against righties, with Escobar still sliding over to short for Nick Ahmed, depending on the matchup.

But with Escobar’s propensity for extra base hits, the offense on that side of the infield is in good hands. It’s not ideal for the team to spend the remainder of the division race without one of their top power hitters, but, in a sense, they’ve really been without him all year. The lack of health really sapped his value to the lineup. Luckily, they have enough pieces in their lineup to support a slumping lamb (and an offensively useless catching trio).

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The move for Eduardo Escobar was already meant to take some of the pressure off of Jake Lamb. Now, it’s about replacing him. It was a savvy move for Mike Hazen at the time, but now it becomes something much bigger.

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