The National League West is a tough division to play in. Over the last decade, an NL West team has appeared in the World Series SIX times. That’s dominance. However, for the Arizona Diamondbacks, that dominance hasn’t reached the desert.
2020: Record: 25 – 35
2020 Finish: 5th in the NL West, 14th in the National League
Surprises in 2020
The Diamondbacks and Marlins were big-time trading partners in 2020, coming together to send Starling Marte to Miami in exchange for Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia, and Julio Frias heading to Arizona. Pitching in exchange for an outfielder, where have we seen a similar deal before? Oh right, the previous year when Arizona acquired Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm.
In a rotation that boasted Luke Weaver, Robbie Ray, and Madison Bumgarner, it is certainly a surprise that Zac Gallen was the Ace in 2020. With his 10.3 K/9, 2.75 ERA, 6.9 H/9, 1.111 WHIP, and Top 10 NL Cy Young finish, Gallen was the most impressive pitcher on the Arizona staff. That’s a great thing for the future of this club.
Disappointments in 2020
Madison Bumgarner was the biggest signing last offseason for the D-Backs, and was the biggest disappointment in 2020. Despite the small sample size, Bumgarner produced his worst season to date in his first season in Phoenix. Strikeouts were down and hits (especially home runs) were up in last season and that’s not a great look for the lefty.
Consider this. In 2019, MadBum started an MLB leading 34 games and gave up 30 home runs throughout the season, good enough for a 1.3 HR/9. In 2020, that number grew to 2.8 dingers per 9 innings, as MadBum gave up 13 dingers over his 9 starts in 2020. Not great. Bumgarner was very hittable in last season, as evidence by his 10.3 h/9 which is a great leap fom his 2019 mark of 8.3.
Even more disappointing was his strikeout and walk numbers. Known for his control, Bumgarner’s k/9 dropped from 8.8 in 2019 to 6.5 in 2020. Over the course of his 2020, Bumgarner amassed 30 strikeouts which is minuscule compared to his career averages.
The Madison Bumgarner the Diamondbacks thought they were getting has yet to arrive as Chase Field. Hopefully he can arrive prior to the 2021 season.
Looking Ahead to 2021
The Diamondbacks have a few years of figuring out who they are as they ready their prospects for the big stage. The push to acquire pitching over the last few seasons is a great place to begin considering Shelby Miller was a bust, Zack Godley cratered, Patrick Corbin left, and Robbie Ray was dealt to Toronto.
The thing that Diamondbacks have that a lot of other rebuilding teams don’t have is a solid core already on the field. Nick Amed stepped up big in 2020, as did Christian Walker, David Peralta, and offseason acquisition Kole Calhoun had solid seasons.
The D-Backs have a solid clubhouse their prospects are walking into and that’s worth its weight in gold. While we may not see the Diamondbacks of the future in 2021, this team is well on its way to becoming competitive in the NL West.
Projected 2021 Finish: 77-85, 5th in the NL West
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