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NL West preview: D’Backs keep slithering in Wild Card race

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Arizona Diamondbacks vs San Francisco Giants
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt (44) is congratulated after his 2-run home run in the first inning as the Arizona Diamondbacks face the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Sunday, April 19, 2015.

The Diamondbacks were one of three National League West teams to make the 2017 postseason, enjoying a breakout season similar to that of the Rockies.

Arizona finished 93-69, and ended up in the NL’s first Wild Card spot. The Diamondbacks faced divisional foe Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS after beating another divisional rival, Colorado, in the Wild Card game. They ended up getting swept by the Dodgers, but making the postseason for the first time since 2011 was a definite step in the right direction.

Key Additions: OF Steven Souza Jr., C Alex Avila, RP Yoshihisa Hirano, RP Brad Boxberger

Key Losses: OF J.D. Martinez, 3B Brandon Drury, C Chris Iannetta, RP Fernando Rodney, RP David Hernandez

The club did lose several key pieces from last season, though. One of the team’s leading bats, J.D. Martinez, was acquired at the trade deadline to further bolster the middle of the batting lineup. However, the lineup will still be anchored by first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, who has three top-three finishes in the NL MVP race, including third place in 2017. Other incumbents such as center fielder A.J. Pollock and third baseman Jake Lamb will also help give the lineup scoring.

Arizona also lost catcher Chris Iannetta, but will replace him in the lineup with former Detroit Tigers’ backstop Alex Avila. The two had comparable offensive numbers last season, and Avila should be a suitable replacement on defense as well. Souza, who was acquired in a three team trade with the Tampa Bay Rays and New York Yankees, will serve as a valuable fourth outfielder. He will likely see some time in the starting lineup as well.

The team’s rotation is still strong after a season in which it gave up the second-fewest runs, and had the fourth lowest ERA, in the NL in 2017. All the key starters from last year, particularly Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray will return. As with any teams with strong starting staffs, health will be the biggest key for sustained success in 2018.

Overall, the Diamondbacks should not see much, if any drop off in their performance from 2017 to 2018. The biggest difference will definitely be the absence of Martinez, but the D-Backs had a very strong team even before trading for him last July. They should be fighting with the defending National League champion Dodgers for NL West supremacy throughout the season.

Projected Lineup:

  1. RF David Peralta
  2. CF Pollock
  3. 1B Goldschmidt
  4. 3B Lamb
  5. C Avila
  6. 2B Ketel Marté
  7. SS Nick Ahmed
  8. LF Jarrod Dyson

Projected Starting Rotation:

  1. Ray
  2. Taijuan Walker
  3. Greinke
  4. Zack Godley
  5. Corbin

Projected Record: 92-70

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