It has been a miserable season for the Diamondbacks. That’s been the case from the get-go – a horrendous start to the season dashed our hopes. Mercifully, the regular season ends in the three weeks. With an oddball cast of regulars and a suspect starting rotation, there doesn’t seem to be any reason to continue watching the D-backs. Take Sunday’s game for example. Arizona’s lineup featured one hitter (Chris Owings) with a slugging percentage over .400, and the starting pitcher, Trevor Cahill, is sporting an ERA over five. And Sunday wasn’t an anomaly. It’s been particularly gruesome ever since Paul Goldschmidt broke his hand.

Despite all the pain from injuries and bad baseball, there are a few pieces on the roster still worth your time. For the last few months, the team has been evaluating its assets in preparation for 2015. It’s like building a puzzle– it’s important to recognize what pieces are in place and what pieces are missing. Since there are three weeks left, I’ve got three things to watch for:

Daniel Hudson

Ryan covered Hudson’s debut last week, but I wanted to harp on it a bit more. Daniel Hudson threw his first major league pitch since Jun 26, 2012. Ryan Roberts and Mike Zagurski were in that game. Boy do I miss Mike Zagurski. Martin Prado played in the game too, but as a member of the Braves. Hudson’s recovery from two consecutive torn UCLs is inspiring. The word perseverance comes to mind. Unfortunately, major league hitters aren’t interested in heartwarming stories; Hudson needs to prove that he can be a successful relief pitcher. No one is going to question the quality of his stuff, but with a revamped throwing motion, he could be a work in progress.

Center Field

While A.J. Pollock was injured, Ender Inciarte proved that he deserves some consideration for starting center fielder in 2015. After an incredibly slow start, Ender has posted a respectable .266/.307/.340 slash rate at the plate. It’s not great, but his stellar defense makes it palatable. He’s been worth 2 WAR in 98 games and there’s room for improvement. He’s only 23 years old. If he develops into an average offensive center fielder, the defense could make him a valuable player.

It will be equally interesting to see if A.J. Pollock can continue hitting the way he did before he broke his hand. In his first 51 games of the season, he was batting .316 and was worth more than 2.5 wins above replacement. His BABIP (.374) suggests that his numbers may be partially due to good luck, but newfound power is something to keep an eye on. Pollock is slugging .547. The only center fielders this year with a slugging percentage over .500 are Mike Trout and Andrew McCutchen. I hear they’re pretty good. Even if Pollock’s slugging percentage drops to the .450 range, he could be a four or five win player.

Jake Lamb

Jake Lamb needs to show that he’s the reason the Diamondbacks felt comfortable trading Martin Prado. He’s been given a whale of an opportunity and has responded by floundering at the plate since his call-up. An OBP of .250 and .304 slugging percentage isn’t going to cut it. A 35.5 strikeout rate is not acceptable either. He’s only played twenty games, so there’s time to turn it around. But with only three weeks, he needs to do something sooner rather than later. Brandon Drury, who was acquired in the infamous Justin Upton trade, is another promising third base prospect. His solid play this year culminated in a promotion to Double A. If Lamb doesn’t start producing quickly, Drury might be named the third basemen of the future.

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One Response to Three Things to Watch For

  1. Anonymous says:

    pitching’s been great except for Cahill. Poor guy will never get break because so much was/is expected. Lamb, real gold glove defense and talk about a guy who is a perfect 3 hitter. He’s a got the best recognition of strike zone and pitches since Connor Jackson, throw in power of Gonzo. That swing is complicated though. that’s why i say pay up for 1 year of Headley. Gregarius has a terrible swing path things won’t change for him until he figures out how to drive the ball like he did off ross. that’s his swing, his pull swing the hand location is awful. Once his swing path is normalized he can pull it and hit with power. Next year a line-up of hill im giving him the benefit, headley peralta inciarte, goldy, Aj, owings, montero, bench of ross, pennington, gets us to the wild card. I hope i don’t have to see trumbo or Cahill play again, two guys i both like, they’ve just beat me down to much. Lamb and Gregaruis may need another year.

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