The Arizona Diamondbacks extended manager Torey Lovullo this week, keeping their skipper employed through the 2021 season. The new deal secures the skipper’s future and starts the clock ticking on the rebuild.
The Arizona Diamondbacks installed Torey Lovullo as their manager before the 2017 season. At the time, the Dbacks seemed ready to embark on a rebuild, but Lovullo led a surprising charge that kept the Diamondbacks in contention. They finished the season with a 93-69 record and one game playoff against the Rockies, who despite making the playoffs finished only 87-75.
The Diamondbacks jumped out to an early 6-0 lead in that playoff game, but the Rockies stormed back to make it a game. They roughed up Zack Greinke to the tune of six hits and four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. Andrew Chafin was the first man out of the pen, retiring the only batter he faced and earning the win.
Lovullo pulled out all the stops, using Robbie Ray in relief for 2 1/3 innings to bridge the gap to the back end of the bullpen. Archie Bradley and Fernando Rodney both gave up runs, but Bradley also tripled in two to help offset the two runs he gave up. Jake Lamb has four hits, Paul Goldschmidt 3 RBIs, and the Diamondbacks earned the right to face another division rival in the National League Division Series.
Unfortunately, the Dodgers swept the Dbacks in three games and just like that the run was over. Higher expectations in 2018 led to a disappointing 82-80 season, though they had a share of first place as late as September 1st.
Lovullo was facing a lame duck year in 2019, but the extension earns him some extra time as proving his worth in his first two season. The extension itself isn’t all that surprising, but it does shine some light on the organization’s expectations moving forward.
Call it what you will, but this season the Diamondbacks are likely to take a step back. Still, they’ve insisted against a full rebuild, and now we have an idea about how quickly they expect to be back in contention. By extending Lovullo through 2021, they’ve given him 3 seasons to produce results on the field.
Without much help in terms of player personnel coming from outside the organization this offseason, Lovullo’s responsibility this season will be the development of young talent as they reach the majors. They expected him to lead a young, developing roster when he took over, and this season he’ll have the chance.
If the Arizona Diamondbacks are going to contend in the NL West by 2021, Torey Lovullo will need to utilize his development team and make the next two years count. This contract is a vote of confidence in Lovullo, but in sports, a vote of confidence almost always means there are serious doubts as well. The Dbacks do appear to think Lovullo is the man they need in the dugout, at least for now.