Three breakouts that are key to the Arizona Diamondbacks' success in 2024

These three players could be extremely important to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2024.
Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees
Arizona Diamondbacks v New York Yankees / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
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Sep 12, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ryne Nelson (19)
Sep 12, 2023; New York City, New York, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Ryne Nelson (19) / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Ryne Nelson

Ryne Nelson’s rookie season was not one to write home about. However, if the Diamondbacks do not sign or trade for another starting pitcher before the start of Spring Training, he will enter looking to compete for the final spot in the rotation. I think he has an equally as good of chance as Tommy Henry to earn the final spot, and if Nelson takes it, the D-Backs will need him to do good in ‘24.

Nelson pitched 144 innings in 27 starts and 29 total appearances. He had a poor 5.31 ERA, 5.07 FIP, and 1.42 WHIP throughout the frames he pitched. Nelson had a lowly 15.5% strikeout rate and 1.40 HR/9. Nelson was below the tenth percentile of both exit velocity and barrel rate and clocked in the 22nd percentile of hard-hit rate. Of the few positives from his first extended look in the bigs, he had a quality 7.4% walk rate.

But there’s definitely some potential for him to break out. His fastball had above-average velocity and carry through the zone. His change-up induced a whiff rate of 31.4% while keeping batters to a sub-.300 wOBA. His slider also held opponents to a wOBA below .300. In terms of Stuff+, Nelson was slightly above average at 101.

Keep in mind that this was only Nelson’s first big league season. Nelson commands his stuff well, and his overall ability is there. He has the tools; now, he just needs to put them together. If he breaks out next year, the Diamondbacks could have the most formidable rotation in baseball. Imagine if they had five starters with 20+ games started and an ERA under 4.00.