MLB: A Look at the 2nd Half for the Diamondbacks
When the second half of the baseball season gets underway on Friday; here are some things that need to happen in order for the Diamondbacks to hold onto first place in the NL West.
They will need to trade for a starting pitcher and a relief pitcher. With the Dodgers already making a trade for starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco and rumors of another trade for a starter; the Diamondbacks cannot go very far into the second with its current pitching staff.
Ian Kennedy (if he is not traded) needs to get back to his 2011 form. Kennedy has allowed four earned runs or more in three of his last four starts. He has a 5.47 ERA during that span. He’s 3-6 with a 5.42 ERA and 1.40 WHIP through 18 starts at the All-Star break. He had a decent 2nd half last season; let’s hope he can at least repeat that. He will get his chance on Friday when the Diamondbacks travel to San Francisco to play the Giants. Manager Kirk Gibson shuffled the rotation and has Kennedy pitching first after the All Star break.
Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy need to bounce back from their injuries and become consistent pitchers again. It is doubtful any teams would want them in trades. They would both like to forget the 1st half of the 2013 season. Wade Miley is 2-0 in his last two starts and looked good in his other two starts. He needs to return to his 2012 season.
The bullpen needs to re-organize and they have to stop giving up homeruns and blown save chances. The Diamondbacks will manage a bullpen by committee until J J Putz gets his arm strength back. If he does not get his strength back soon, look for the Diamondbacks to try and trade for a closer.
A healthy Aaron Hill can only help this team in a positive way. His on the field leadership and his defensive play at 2nd base will be counted on in the 2nd half. Hill is hitting well in July. He is batting .333 and is 13 for 39 with a .538 slugging percentage, .911 OPS, one home run, five doubles, seven RBI and nine runs in 10 games.
If Jason Kubel is not traded away, he will need to have a big 2nd half. He did hit .273 for the month of June with 4 homeruns. He will need to also find his power swing as teams will pitch around Hill and Goldschmidt and this is an opportunity for Kubel to put up big numbers like last year.
Miguel Montero must continue to boost his average and play better defensively. It looked like he was coming out of his season long slump. He hit .278 in the month of June, but started July going 6 hits in 34 at bats. As a popular teammate, who received MVP votes in each of the last two seasons, you can’t give up on him and hope he turns it around after the break.
The last player to look at is Martin Prado. A career .295 hitter entering this season, Prado hit just .253 in the 1st half with little power. He is batting .314 in his last 18 games, raising his season average from .238 to .253. On a more positive note, in his last 18 games, Prado has a .486 slugging percentage, .854 OPS, three doubles, three home runs, six walks, six runs and 10 RBI. Those numbers need to continue for him for the rest of the season if this team is looking for at a Division title.
The Diamondbacks have 67 games left. 34 at home and 33 on the road. They will have a rough stretch in the middle of August with 10 games in 10 days, against the Pirates, Reds and Phillies. It is likely all three of those teams will still be in the playoff race at that time. They play the Dodgers 7 times in September with 3 in Los Angeles and 4 at Chase Field.
The Diamondbacks will have to continue to win their home games and continue to win the 1-run and the extra inning games in order to remain on top of what is a very hotly contested NL West Division.
I hope to see you at the ballpark.
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