Diamondbacks Report….How To Get Back Into Contention.
I know it has been a frustrating start to the season; so do Diamondbacks fans think the season is over? Can a playoff spot still be earned? Well there is hope, there are 117 games left! I know it is early, but as of today the team currently sits only five games out of the second wild card spot. Remember there are now 2 wild card spots in each league. Will it be easy? Certainly not! But let me remind you that the wild-card teams in both leagues in 2011 were much further back and much later in the season and, one of those teams won the 2011 World Series.
Let’s take a look at some scenarios.
After 45 games last season, the Diamondbacks did have a slightly better record at 22-23 (today they are 20- 25) and they went on to win the division. I know they were a lot closer to the division leader last year, but further back in the wild-card race. That said the 2011 Diamondbacks ability to turn things around is all the proof you need that the 2012 Diamondbacks can do the same thing.
I understand, unlike 2011, the team is headed in the wrong direction at the moment. Last year a poor April was followed by a strong May (they went 19-10). With six games left, the Diamondbacks would need to sweep both the Brewers and Giants just to make it to .500 for the month of May.
Here are a few areas I think the Diamondbacks must improve in to turn this season around:
(1) Their ability to win one-run games. After sweeping the Giants in three straight one run games to begin the 2012 baseball season, the Diamondbacks have lost eleven of their past 12 one run games (so far they are 4-11 overall for the 2012 season). Last year, they won 28 of their 44 one run games. Their record is 16-14 in non one run games this year.
(2) Their pitching. Having Daniel Hudson coming back should provide a boost to the starting pitching, but their relief pitching has been an issue this season. And, as we know, a healthy successful bullpen can lead a team into postseason play. (Remember the 2011 bullpen) We should assume that J.J. Putz and his current 7.13 ERA will not continue the rest of the season and hitters will not continue to hit .313 off him either. On the plus side, he is still striking out better than a hitter per inning, with only 1 walk in his last 14 innings pitched.
(3) This team needs to win at Chase Field. Currently their home record is 8-14. Both the hitting and pitching have been at fault when it comes to wins at home. The team has been outscored 121 to 92 with an ERA over 5 at home.
(4) The teams’ overall ERA. The Diamondbacks current total ERA is 4.23. Last year it was 3.99 through the first 45 games of the season. After 45 games this year they have scored 188 runs. In the same number of games last year they had scored 201.
(5) Injuries. Chris Young needs to stay healthy, not only for his bat and his glove, but Justin Upton plays better when Chris Young is in the lineup. Miguel Montero must stay healthy and get out of his slump, Henry Blanco is a great locker room guy and teacher, but he is no longer an everyday catcher. The Diamondbacks minor leagues are strong with pitching, but an everyday starting catcher is a weak spot for them as well.
(6) Third Base. Ryan Roberts has responded better lately, with at least 1 hit in 6 of his last 7 games, but he must continue to improve with both hitting and fielding. If he starts to struggle again, look for the Diamondbacks to search for an answer at third base. The Diamondbacks called up Josh Bell and will play him at third base as well, but there is always a possibility of a trade.
This team needs to start firing on all cylinders in order to have a shot at either the NL West Division or a wild card spot, but history shows us neither is out of reach at this point in the 2012 season.
I hope to see you at the ballpark.