By: Brian Kreps – Contributing Writer
PHOENIX— It was supposed to be a season filled with promise, a year when the Arizona Diamondbacks made a move in the National League West. But, before this promising season even got started, the Diamondbacks got bad news.
All-star center fielder A.J. Pollock will miss the first part of the season after fracturing his right elbow sliding into home plate late in Spring Training. With Pollock on the disabled list, it will be “next man up” as Arizona manager Chip Hale has said on several occasions.
Despite the loss of Pollock, the Arizona roster looks to have a winning season. They have versatility, with a combination of youth and veterans.
A lot is expected from the Diamondbacks’ top free-agent acquisition – Zack Greinke, both on the field and in the clubhouse. The Diamondbacks hope that his approach to the game rubs off on and benefits Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray in 2016.
All-star Paul Goldschmidt – the face of the franchise – should be solid again. Wellington Castillo, who came over in a trade midway through last season, begins his first full season with the Diamondbacks and should provide some protection for Goldschmidt.
David Peralta is a leader, an inspiration and starting to come into his own. Entering his third season with Arizona, his second as a starter, Peralta brings excitement to this team. Last season, he proved he can hit left-handed pitchers and, with his work ethic, should only improve on his totals from last season. When this guy comes to the plate, he is a player you don’t want to miss.
Yasmany Tomas will open the season as the left fielder. In the second year with the Diamondbacks, this one-time highly touted prospect has something to prove. In spring, he showed to be more athletic than last season. The big question is can he improve on last year’s totals and be a threat in the lineup.
In the infield, Nick Ahmed is a smooth defender, but hasn’t provided much offense yet. The addition of shortstop Jean Segura and the development of Brandon Drury have pushed Ahmed this spring. Chris Owings versatility will be a big help this year. He enters the season healthy, with no nagging shoulder limiting him. Then there is Jake Lamb. His numbers improved last season, so the Diamondbacks hope that with another year under his belt, he will get even better.
Socrates Brito will start in centerfield and should get a lot of the playing time in the absence of Pollock. This is his chance to show the fans, his teammates and the organization what he has.
Along with Drury and Owings, Arizona will have Rickie Weeks Jr., Phil Gosselin and Chris Herrmann available off the bench. Owings and Drury showed this spring they can play the outfield, and could get at bats there. Weeks was brought in after the start of training camp, and showed he still has a quick bat. Herrmann will backup Castillo behind the dish.
The bullpen features several mainstays from last season, including Brad Ziegler, Daniel Hudson, Randall Delgado and Andrew Chaffin. But the signing veteran Tyler Clippard not only adds leadership, but also stability to the back end.
While the loss of Pollock will hurt the club, this team has too much depth to not be able to overcome his loss. On paper, this teams looks to finish with 89 wins and make the playoffs in a tough NL West. The loss of Greinke has weakened the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation and might be too much to overcome.
Yes, the San Francisco Giants added to their rotation, with Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, to go along with Madison Bumgarner. But the Diamondbacks’ front three of Greinke, Miller and Corbin can prove the difference for Arizona.