MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - INSIDE PITCH
The Diamondbacks entered the All-Star break with a 2 1/2 game lead in the National League West despite lengthy injuries to two projected regulars and two members of the starting rotation, disabled list-type injuries to several others and a bullpen that is performing far below expected levels.
It seems an improbable formula for a 50-45 record.
"We've overachieved," veteran third baseman Eric Chavez said.
It is all part of the plan.
"We aim to overachieve, OK?" manager Kirk Gibson said. "Last year we underachieved. We know that."
The Dodgers swept Arizona at home last week, and some appear to be conceding the NL West to the Dodgers and their deep pockets these days.
But the presence of Aaron Hill and Adam Eaton for the entire second half should give the D-backs reason to believe they can contend to the end. The starting pitching and bullpen (a major league-high 19 blown saves) have not been good, but starters Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill are expected back by early August at the latest and the bullpen is showing signs.
The D-backs have been led by two unexpected stars, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and left-hander Patrick Corbin, both of whom made their first All-Star team this year. Goldschmidt leads the National League with 77 RBIs at the break and is the only NL player with 20 home runs (he has a career-high 21) and 70 RBIs. Corbin, battling for the No. 5 spot in the rotation in spring training, emerged as the staff ace early. He was the first in the majors to nine wins when he got there June 4, and he enters the break 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA. The D-backs have won 17 of his 19 starts.
It might be unfair to expect the pair to stay on the same pace. At the same time, other pieces -- Miguel Montero, Ian Kennedy -- have resumes that would suggest a resurgence.
The D-backs have been at their best in high-leverage situations, a trait that defines winners. They are 21-12 in one-run games and 10-4 in extra innings, both win totals the best in the majors. They have 27 comeback victories. If you believe attitude does not slump, the numbers are a good sign.
"I like the way we play and fight in extra innings and overcome blown saves. That's a good sign for this team. And the games are only going to get more competitive later in the year," Chavez said.
MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Lost one
PAST 10 GAMES: 6-4
As sister-kissing at it may appear, it really is a tie. 1B Paul Goldschmidt and LHP Patrick Corbin have been dominant on their side of the ball. Goldschmidt leads the NL with 77 RBIs at the break and is the only NLer with at least 20 homers (he has a career-high 21) and 70 RBIs. Corbin (11-1, 2.35) was the first in the league to nine victories and has been the victim of three blown saves. The D-backs are 19-2 in his starts.
PIVOTAL POST-BREAK PLAYER:
Opening-day starter Ian Kennedy led the NL with 36 victories in 2011-12, but he has only three at the break (and a 5.42 ERA). He has at various times been up in the zone with his pitches, and his secondary stuff seems to be there one start and not there the next. It has been a disjointed season, including the 10-game suspension for hitting two batters June 11. The D-backs need Kennedy to be Kennedy in the second half.
BUY OR SELL?:
The D-backs will buy. That is general manager Kevin Towers' M.O., and that will not change with the D-backs in the race. They are kicking the tires in the pitching market, having been connected with Milwaukee RHP Yovani Gallardo, Chicago Cubs RHP Jeff Samardzija and Chicago White Sox RHP Jake Peavy. Right now, the asking prices are too high. Peavy makes $13 million this year and is due $14 million in 2014, which would be an awfully large commitment. "I always try to give every opportunity to our internal options here. If those don't work out, then you need to be a little bit more aggressive externally," Towers said.
J.J. Putz is still building arm strength after missing seven weeks with a right elbow strain in May. Ideally, he would close and the rest of the bullpen would fall in line, but that will not happen until he is hitting 93-94 mph again. Brandon McCarthy and Trevor Cahill should return by early August. They haven't been great, but they have experience in pennant races. The position players are as healthy as they have been all season.
RHP Archie Bradley has the stuff to pitch in the majors, as he showed in the Futures Game, when he hit 98 mph, pitched at 96 and mixed in a few 80 mph curves in a 1-2-3 inning. He was drafted out of high school and does not turn 21 until August, so the D-backs have preached patience. But if the need is great, he is there. 3B Matt Davidson was the MPV of the Futures Game and had 14 homers at Triple-A Reno, but the D-backs are deep in position players, and he is unlikely to be added unless injuries hit.
MLB Team Report - Arizona Diamondbacks - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Brandon McCarthy (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 31. McCarthy canceled a scheduled bullpen appearance July 1 because of shoulder fatigue. Unrelated to his elbow, McCarthy suffered a seizure on June 3 related to being hit in the head on a line drive last September. He was taken to a local hospital and put on anti-seizure medication before being cleared to resume his rehabilitation. He threw 40 pitches in a simulated game July 9 and 65 pitches in a simulated game July 14. He is to report to Triple-A Reno on a rehab assignment during All-Star week. He will need at least two rehab starts, manager Kirk Gibson said.
--RHP Trevor Cahill (right hip contusion) went on the 15-day disabled list July 1. He played catch July 8, but there is no timetable for his return.
--INF/OF Willie Bloomquist (broken left hand) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 28. A CT scan July 5 revealed two small fractures on the top of his hand. He is expected to be out until at least mid-August.
--RHP Daniel Hudson (Tommy John surgery in July 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list Feb. 20. He re-tore the UCL in his left elbow in his first minor league rehab start on June 10. He underwent a second season-ending Tommy John surgery in late June.
--LHP Matt Reynolds (slight tear of left UCL) went on the 15-day disabled list June 10. A second opinion from specialist Dr. James Andrews confirmed the D-backs' diagnosis that no surgery is required, but he is expected to miss two to three months.
LHP Wade Miley
LHP Patrick Corbin
RHP Randall Delgado
RHP Ian Kennedy
RHP Heath Bell
RHP J.J. Putz
RHP David Hernandez
RHP Brad Ziegler
LHP Tony Sipp
RHP Josh Collmenter
RHP Will Harris
LHP Eury De La Rosa
1B Paul Goldschmidt
2B Aaron Hill
SS Didi Gregorius
3B Martin Prado
INF Cliff Pennington
INF Eric Chavez
LF Jason Kubel
CF Adam Eaton
RF Cody Ross
OF A.J. Pollock
OF Gerardo Parra