With a combination of power and speed, the Arizona Diamondbacks are scoring. In fact, Arizona is in the top 10 in baseball in scoring, extra base hits, homeruns and slugging. Although Mark Reynolds has had a slow start, other Diamondbacks are picking up the slack including Chris Young, Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson. With such a high-powered offense, fans are disappointed to see their team at the bottom of the National League West standings. The increase in offensive production from 2009 to 2010 has been evident, however, there has been a key element missing for Arizona this year.
Already 13 games back from the surprising San Diego Padres, Arizona is ranked last in baseball in pitching, including earned run average, home runs allowed and wild pitches. With only 19 blown saves all of last season, Arizona needs only seven more to tie last year’s mark. Chad Qualls has recently been replaced as the team’s closer by veteran Aaron Heilman. Heilman is the only Arizona reliever with an ERA under 4.00. Although much of the blame is placed on the Arizona bullpen, starting pitching has been far from consistent as well. Arizona ace Dan Haren has proven himself season by season, although he has famously struggled during the second half. Arizona is hoping that this trend will be reversed as Haren has experienced one of his worst career first halves with a 4.71 ERA and 18 home runs allowed, more than any other Arizona starter. Last season, Edwin Jackson cruised to 13 wins and a 3.64 ERA in Detroit. However, his ERA is ironically almost a run and half higher with this new team, where he faces pitchers instead of designated hitters. Arizona’s 2006 Cy Young winner Brandon Webb has been recovering from Tommy John surgery, but should be able to rejoin the team after the all-star break to provide a much needed consistent arm.
Although Arizona continues to gradually fall farther down in the standings, it is evident that their potential is high if the pitching staff can turn their season around. Chase Field cannot be blamed, which is one of the top ballparks for batting, because Arizona’s road record is a woeful 10-27. With some improvements in pitching and road consistency, Arizona has the personnel to compete in the NL ‘Wild’ West, but any hope this season may be out of sight.