(Matt Kartozian - USA Today Sports)
2016 Record: 69-93, 4th in the NL West
Key Additions: CP Fernando Rodney, SP Taijuan Walker, SS/2B Ketel Marte, C Chris Iannetta, OF Jeremy Hazelbaker, MGR Torey Lovullo
Key Subtractions: RHP Daniel Hudson, SP Rubby de la Rosa, SS Jean Segura, OF Michael Bourn
X-Factor: Health and Rotation Consistency
We kick off our 2017 previews with a team that definitely didn't perform up to their expectations in 2016. Many people actually saw the Diamondbacks making a playoff run last year following the additions of Zack Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Jean Segura, but it just didn't work out. A lot of that has to do with A.J. Polluck, who was limited to just 12 games last year due to injury. If he can put together a healthy season, and be a vital piece of that top of the DBacks order, Arizona has a pretty decent lineup going into 2017.
On top of the questions surrounding A.J. Polluck, there are questions about Arizona ace, Zack Greinke. Greinke will be going into his age 33 season, and year 2 of his 6 year, $206.5 million deal, and most certainly is in need of a bounce back season. Last year, Greinke went 13-7 with a 4.37 ERA. And if the Diamondbacks want to compete, that has to start trending upward. As well as with Shelby Miller, who absolutely crapped himself last season, going 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA, and even getting banished to the minor leagues. Those 2 guys were brought in to be the 1-2 punch, and they spent most of their season in the corner getting wailed on. And if they can get back to their form, along with Patrick Corbin slated as the #3 and newly-acquired Taijuan Walker as the #4 starter, this DBacks team has some solid hurlers.
However, in this offseason, the Diamondbacks made a couple of small moves, including hiring former Red Sox bench coach, Torey Lovullo to manage their ball club. Now Lovullo has limited experience managing in the MLB, but he thrived in that regard as the Red Sox interim manager in 2015, getting his players to play hard and even make the wild card race interesting. Lovullo will finally be given the opportunity to manage his own squad, and I think his players will play hard for him, like Boston did from mid-August to the end of the season in 2015.
Record Prediction: 76-86
I actually see the NL West being a really competitive division this season, and the Diamondbacks are definitely going to improve, barring injury, on last season. Arizona is one of my sleeper teams this year, but I just don't see their bullpen being strong enough to eclipse the .500 mark and really compete for that division title. Expect them to use whatever prospects they have remaining to go get a reliever mid-season if they are in the midst of a potential playoff push, especially with the departure of Daniel Hudson to the Pirates this offseason.