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Arizona Diamondbacks

Updated Mar 30, 2013 - 3:51 pm

SI.com's Tom Verducci: D-backs' starting rotation could keep them in NL West hunt

The Arizona Diamondbacks may not be favored by many analysts to win their division, but SI.com MLB senior writer Tom Verducci points to one area of their roster that could quiet all doubters.

Verducci told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Friday that the D-backs' starting rotation could keep them in the National League West hunt.

"I like the fact that they are going to fight you, but the big picture to me is their pitching," Verducci said. "I think their starting pitching is a little bit underrated. I like the idea that there's really no age there whatsoever, and they also have a pretty good inventory. When the inevitable injury pops up and they have to drop down to starter No. 6 or 7, they're still in pretty good shape. That's what I like about the Diamondbacks more than anything."

The D-backs' starting rotation has looked strong in the spring, and Verducci believes one free agent acquisition in particular could prove to be a major upgrade for the staff.

"Brandon McCarthy may be the key for me because I have always liked him, but I think he's really due for a breakout season," Verducci said. "Not a back-end of the rotation guy but a front-end of the rotation guy. If that happens kind of like what happened with Kennedy and Hudson a couple of years ago, then yeah, I definitely think they can contend."

McCarthy, who signed with the D-backs back in December, looks to improve upon his 8-6 record last season with the Oakland Athletics. McCarthy's 2012 campaign was cut short after he was struck in the head by a line drive off the bat of the Angels' Erick Aybar on September 5, but he's shown no ill effects this spring and is slated to pitch Wednesday against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Overall, Verducci said the D-backs have an under-the-radar shot of finding themselves atop the division come October.

"I actually think they're a little bit of a sleeper team," said Verducci. "They're not getting a lot of attention other than what they gave up, but I think they can contend in the West."

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