By: Chris Larson
If you have ever lived in Arizona or currently live in Arizona, you know all about rattlesnakes and the danger that they present to those around them. The same can be said for the way the Arizona Diamondbacks have opened up the regular season and have been playing as of late. Like a rattlesnake leaves a lasting sting after biting someone, the Dbacks are leaving a lasting sting among all of their opponents so far.
Going into play yesterday afternoon, Arizona had record 8 consecutive series wins and will go for their 9th either today or tomorrow afternoon, against the Washington Nationals, after beating them last night with a final score of, 5-4. As it stands right now, Arizona is first in the NL West with an 18-7 record, which is also the best in the National League, and have a run differential of +40.
It really should come as no surprise that Arizona has been this successful so far, but what's even more surprising is the way they are performing without some key names. The Dbacks have been playing without right fielder, Steven Souza Jr., for the entire season, third baseman, Jake Lamb, for nearly the entire year so far, and lost starting pitcher, Taijuan Walker, to Tommy John surgery about two weeks ago. That hasn't stopped their momentum by any means and like a rattlesnake, Arizona continues to be deadly and presents any of their opponents with the chance to be snake bitten every time they take the field.
For starters to illustrate how powerful the Diamondbacks have been to this point, let's start with the pitching staff. As of right now, the Diamondbacks have the second best pitching staff in baseball, behind only the reigning World Series Champion Houston Astros, with a cumulative ERA of 2.92 over 228.1 IP. More specifically, Arizona's bullpen is the best in all of baseball with a 1.69 ERA over 85.1 IP along with a .193 Opponent Batting Average Against. In addition, Arizona is perfect in saves with 9 saves over the span of 9 save opportunities, 7 of which came from Brad Boxberger and 2 courtesy of fireman reliever, Archie Bradley.
Furthermore, if anyone is having a stellar year in the Diamondbacks starting rotation, it's gotta be Patrick Corbin. Talk about making an impression in your walk year before hitting free agency. That's exactly what Corbin has done thus far with a 1.89 ERA over 33.1 IP and a strikeouts-per-9 rate of 12.96 as well as an average of 96 pitches thrown per game started. With those impressive stats, Corbin leads the Diamondbacks pitching staff in ERA and strikeouts and ranks 9th among qualified starters across all of baseball.
To this point, the next best starter in the Diamondbacks rotation has been Zack Godley, who got roughed up a bit yesterday against the Washington Nationals, but continues to prove that the Dbacks won the trade when they acquired him from the Chicago Cubs in exchange of catcher, Miguel Montero. What's even more surprising is that both, Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, haven't lived up to expectations either. They both will likely come into form sooner rather than later and when that happens, the Diamondbacks rotation is going to be even more deadly.
On the offensive side of things, Arizona currently ranks 12th in runs scored with 119 over 826 at bats, are tied with the Seattle Mariners for 12th in home runs (28), and are 11th in RBI with 116. The Diamondbacks have gotten a ton of production from both AJ Pollock and David Peralta thus far. Currently, Peralta leads the team in batting average (.302) and hits (26), while Pollock leads the team in home runs (6) and RBI (19).
As is the case with Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke, Paul Goldschmidt has still not performed up to expectations either, but still has an impressive .404 on-base percentage over 90 at bats, which leads the team as well. There shouldn't be reason to panic about Goldschmidt though because he continually puts up impressive offensive numbers every year and has the highest Offensive Wins Above Replacement value on the team (1.1) at the moment.
No matter how you look at it, the Diamondbacks have been tremendous so far and continue to stock their opponents like a rattlesnake hiding out in the bushes waiting for it's next pray. If this den of Diamondbacks had anyone to thank for their success to this point, it would be Torey Lovullo and his entire coaching staff along with Mike Hazen and the entire front office. With each passing week, it's looking more and more like a better decision that Arizona made two years ago when they let go of Dave Stewart, Tony La Russa, and Chip Hale.
For now, be on the lookout for the Arizona Diamondbacks because anytime they come into town, they present the potential to snake bite their opponent and leave them with an everlasting sting, like someone experiences after they have truly been bitten by a rattlesnake.