Jun. 21, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Arizona Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson in the first inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

2014 NL West Preview: Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks (81-81, 2nd place, 11 GB)

Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Overview: The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off of their 2nd straight 81-81 season. The Diamondbacks led the NL West by 9.5 games over the Dodgers in June of last season before faltering down the stretch. The Dbacks will look to make the playoffs for the first time in three years and are hoping that 1B Paul Goldschmidt can have another phenomenal year like last year when he led the NL in RBIs with 125 and tied with Pedro Alvarez for most home runs with 36. He also posted a very respectable .302 batting average. The Dbacks are hoping that the acquisition of OF Mark Trumbo from LAA will take a little pressure off of Goldschmidt and give them a powerful duo. Trumbo had 34 home runs and 100 RBIs last year but only hit .234. The rivalry between the Dbacks-Dodgers looks to be a thing of the past as both teams will look to start fresh after all of the festivities last year. The Dbacks led the league in walk-off wins last year and always seem to find their way to the top of the standings until September when they fade down the stretch. They look to be a team that will be around 80 wins for the third straight season.

Strength: Bullpen

Last year, the Diamondbacks had one of the worst bullpens in the league as they tied for the major league lead in blown saves with 29. General Manager Kevin Towers went out in the offseason and traded for Addison Reed (40 saves with the CHW) and signed Oliver Perez. J.J. Putz and Reed will battle for the closer role with Reed most likely becoming the closer. If David Hernandez can bounce back from his horrendous 2013 season that saw him be sent to the minors, the Dbacks could have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball. They also have Brad Ziegler and Josh Collmenter. This bullpen is deep, something manager Kirk Gibson and Towers will be very happy with during the season.

Weakness: Starting Rotation

If not for a breakout season by Patrick Corbin last year, the Dbacks rotation would have been worse than it already was. Arizona only had two pitchers (Corbin and Wade Miley) with at least 10 wins and Trevor Cahill, the teams’ #3 starter finished the season with an 8-10 record. Their team era was near the middle of the pack at 3.92 last year and they are hoping that the acquisition of Bronson Arroyo (2 years, $23.5 million) will help improve the bottom of their rotation. Corbin started the 2013 season as hot as any pitcher in baseball and had an 11-1 record at the All-Star break but fatigued down the stretch in his first full season in the bigs. In the last two months of the season, Corbin went 3-7 and had a 7.04 era in the month of September. The Dbacks are also hoping that Archie Bradley (#9 prospect in Baseball America) can make his way to the major leagues at some point during the season. Bradley is thought of as being an ace in the making.

Projected Opening Day lineup

  1. CF A.J. Pollack
  2. RF Gerardo Parra
  3. 1B Paul Goldschmidt
  4. LF Mark Trumbo
  5. C Miguel Montero
  6. 3B Martin Prado
  7. 2B Aaron Hill
  8. SS Chris Owings

Projected Rotation

  1. Patrick Corbin
  2. Trevor Cahill
  3. Wade Miley
  4. Bronson Arroyo
  5. Brandon McCarthy

X Factor: C Miguel Montero

Miguel Montero can be a top-10 catcher when he is healthy and last year was by far his worst year as a pro. He hit .230 with 11 home runs and 42 RBIs in 110 games. The previous two years Montero had 33 home runs and 174 RBIs and made his first All-Star appearance in 2011. Montero is capable of driving in 90 RBIs in 2014 and the addition of Trumbo will benefit him because he wont have to always swing for the fences when he comes up to the plate. Expect a bounce back season from the lefty.

The Dbacks and Dodgers open the season seven days from today in Australia. The regular season is so close!

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Dodgers. Featured NL West

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