Flying High…the next Andrew Miller?!?

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35:1………….10 wins $350

Well, well, well.  Look who’s back.  After a flurry of offseason moves a season ago, this may be the year the Diamondbacks cash in on their investments.  Moving to the hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field can be a nightmare for any pitcher, and it proved to be quite a shock for Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller in their debut seasons in Arizona.  The pair were awful, highlighted by Miller’s abysmal 6.15 ERA in only 20 starts.  Both him and Greinke not only severely underperformed, they battled injuries missing plenty of starts in a season that didn’t quite match up to the $206 million they dished out for Greinke and the incredible young talent they traded for Miller.

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Uhhh ya think?  While that ludicrous bundle of money and talent is still vastly overvaluing their top guns, I expect them to bounce back this season and give the Diamondbacks some quality starters they can be proud of.  So far though, it’s the improvement of their other young starters which has people in Arizona buzzing.

Newly acquired Tiajuan Walker has given them three quality starts and slightly eased the pain of not only losing Jean Segura, but young Mitch Haniger who’s rocking a .410 OBP and 4 jacks in the early going.  While Walker’s 3 solid starts are encouraging, it’s the emergence of young Robbie Ray who has the ability to transform the identity of this team.  He’s always had the talent with a wicked fastball and slider and so far he’s been able to overcome his Krpytonite — control.  He’s already averaging 4 walks a start but he’s able to counteract that wildness with nearly league-leading strikeout capability (#2 in MLB last season in K per 9 innings).

While some saw the emergence of Ray coming, nobody could have seen Archie Bradley morphing into Andrew Miller lite during the offseason.  He’s always had a lot of talent but he struggled mightily as a starting pitcher – SOUND FAMILIAR? 

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In a genius move, Bradley was moved to the bullpen this year and has been a vicious weapon there providing 9 1/3 innings with 0 runs in just 13 games.  After Miller’s success in the postseason it’s no surprise teams are trying out this new strategy and I’m all in.  There hasn’t been such a shake up in the league since the likes of Moneyball, sabermetrics, and dare I say – the closer.

The pitching may be providing a boost but the bats came out of the gates FIRING as the DBacks averaged 7.5 runs in their first 6 games.

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This, I am not surprised by.  I love this Arizona lineup even with the departures of Haniger and Segura in the offseason.  A.J. Pollock is an absolute stud who’s coming back from an injury-plagued 2016 where he played a grand total of 12 games – the same total he’s already played this season.  I’m going to attribute his rocky .196 start to a little bit of rust, he’ll get back to his .315/20 HR/39 SB potential in no time (numbers he matched in 2015).

Paul Goldschmidt is the team leader and elder statesman of the crew at just 29 years old.  After him and his .321/36 HR/32 SB potential (all numbers he’s reached in different years) Arizona has 4 stud young bucks ranging from 24-26 years old.  Jake Lamb at 3B, Chris Owings at SS, Brandon Drury at 2B, and Yasmany Tomas in the OF are all hitting over .300 and have displayed these types of chops before.  The electric Tomas I highlighted in my DFS ERUPT stars of 2017 article and he hasn’t disappointed hitting .300 with 4 doubles, a triple, and a HR.  Expect more power to come.

Don’t get me wrong, this team has plenty of warts like the Fernando Rodney led bullpen which was one of the worst in the majors last season.  Archie Bradley can fix some of those problems but not all…and that’s hoping he can keep up his immaculate start.  But that’s why there’s a little thing called the trade deadline and if the DBacks are still in the hunt there’s no doubt they’ll get some arm support.  If you grabbed those 125:1 odds before the season…

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Well done.  At 35:1 now though, it’s just a tad too late.