Keys to the Top for the Diamondbacks

Keys to the top for the Arizona Diamondbacks

Whether it be the Los Angeles Dodgers growing a roster of superstars with little to no pushback in terms of salaries, thanks to Shohei Ohtani optioning part of his salary to the end of his contract, or the Colorado Rockies only getting better in terms of depth and performance as the years continue to move, the Arizona Diamondbacks path to the top is riddled with challenges, but nothing ever comes easy for those who want it the most. The Diamondbacks had it all but easy after they swept the Milwaukee Brewers in the National League Wildcard Series and the Dodgers in the National League Divisional Series.

Their seven-game battle with the Philadelphia Phillies was a battle of home and away – the Diamondbacks played worse baseball on the diamond in Philadelphia than the Phillies played on the field at Chase in downtown Phoenix. From four home runs (essentially five if you count the one that was called back) in as many hitters against Lance Lynn in the series-clinching game of the NLDS, to Ketel Marte’s walk-off in game three of the NLCS and Alek Thomas’ game-tying home run in game four of the NLCS, the Diamondbacks had their share of electric moments throughout their postseason run, and it didn’t translate to the World Series. The Texas Rangers, eventual World Series champions, found their stride early in the series and watched the Diamondbacks play catch up as time continued to pass in the games between Globe Life and Chase fields.

Following Up a Championship Not as Favored

It was all but written in stone that the 100-62 Dodgers had the NL West locked up, and would more than certainly be the reason the Diamondbacks saw an exit from the playoffs after winning round one against a fringe Brewers team that was boosted into a playoff spot by a 92-70 record, sitting atop the NL Central, a 33-19 divisional record and besting all but the AL East and NL West in regular season play.

Navigating a Strong Conference

As a member of the potency that is the NL West, and not the favorite to win it all again this season as the reigning National League champions say something about the strength of their opposition within the division.

The San Diego Padres got worse with the trade of Juan Soto to the Yankees, the Dodgers got better via… obvious… acquisitions, and the San Francisco Giants have been slightly more inconsistent than the Diamondbacks, as they have struggled against the slate of the league’s toughest and best – 2126-2028 against NL West opponents in franchise history – and sitting $5,624,052 above league average $149,543,857 2024 total payroll, the lowest of teams above the line, and spaced by less than $800,000 to the next closest team above the line in the Los Angeles Angels and the Rockies are significantly below the rest of the league, finishing in the bottom 10 each of the last three seasons with a combined record of 201-285.

Fording the High Stakes Rivers

The Dodgers open as staunch favorites to win the NL this season, with an average of +150 odd, across seven major sportsbooks, and the Diamondbacks open above +1500, with their lowest being +1500 at Bet Rivers.

National League East

With Ronald Acuña Jr., Matt Olson, and Austin Riley in the lineup, 1-9, as well as Spencer Strider and Max Fried, heading up their rotation, the Atlanta Braves are just one of the teams in the NL East that are scary threats. Not to mention Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, Nick Castellanos, and Alec Bohm amongst the names riddling the Philadelphia Phillies lineup on the daily, and a pitching core anchored by Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Taijuan Walker, and Ranger Suarez heading up the pitching rotation assisted by Gregory Soto, Matt Strahm, Jeff Hoffman and José Alvarado on the back end of the bullpen to close out games when needed.

The power of the New York Mets infield is not to be overlooked, despite failure to meet high expectations, with Pete Alonso, Brett Baty, Francisco Lindor, and Jeff McNeil providing a solid lineup that can produce offensively while pitching fails to meet the expectations of that present in the aforementioned Braves and Phillies. Names include Jose Quintana and Kodai Senga (when healthy) are the heaviest relied on at the top of the rotation, with Sean Manaea being a name usable to get through to the top of the pitchers. Edwin Diaz is easily the best closer in the game, and with a veteran setup man in Adam Ottavino who can shut down oppositions for two to three innings, if the Mets can put it together early, and jump out to a sufficient lead, they can run in the NL.

National League Central

The Chicago Cubs active roster has the greatest span of names in the division with Matt Mervis moving rapidly through the ranks, Cody Bellinger returning to the roster, after an offseason of speculation, as well as Nico Hoerner and Dansby Swanson anchoring the infield with Christopher Morel and Bellinger holding down the corners. The Cubs rotation gets to be shaky. Justin Steele has already been slated with the Opening Day start, while Kyle Hendricks has his inconsistencies along with Shota Imanaga as starters in the MLB, with a bullpen with few notable names including Adbert Alzolay.

The Cincinnati Reds and the Pittsburgh Pirates are among the younger teams in the league with Elly De La Cruz, Jonathan India, and Noelvi Marte (although suspended for 80 games) on the Reds, and Henry Davis, Oneil Cruz, and Ke’Bryan Hayes on the Pirates, still needing to prove their potency to the league as a whole. The St. Louis Cardinals pose the highest threat with Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Wilson Contreras, and Nolan Gorman being their notables up and down, as well as Miles Mikolas, Sonny Gray, Lance Lynn, and Kyle Gibson in the team’s room of pitchers, along with Ryan Helsley at the back end of the bullpen.

Inside the Snakes Burrow

Consistency is the name of the game within the locker room for the Diamondbacks. It’s easy to find the role of leader in the elders on the squad, but it’s the youth that harvested within the room that paves the way to the future being bright-headed up by NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, and Jake McCarthy being the young names in the roster, with Ketel Marte, Eugenio Suarez, Christian Walker and Geraldo Perdomo being the go-to guys in the big moments during last season’s story. Merrill Kelly, Ryne Nelson, Zac Gallen, and Brandon Pfaadt finding their way in the rotation with Paul Sewald, Scott McGough, and Kevin Ginkel hungry for the same taste of the run they had last year. It’s hard to paint a picture of all that’s possible 162 games out of the end of the regular season or even before the season begins but the Diamondbacks have a strong building point to start and can find themselves back at the top, while fording a river that seems to have no smooth path of navigation. The regular season begins on March 28th vs the Rockies, the start of a four-game series, followed by three with the New York Yankees.

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