Thirteen games isn’t a large enough sample size, in contrast to 162, to truly calculate how vastly the Arizona Diamondbacks have changed from last season to the current.
But with series wins over both the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants to open their 2015 campaign, 13 games is enough to conclude, at the very least, that the D-backs have begun the Dave Stewart-Tony La Russa-Chip Hale regime in exciting fashion.
After making room on the roster for nine new players, many of whom are noticeably younger than the former set, the energy of the Diamondbacks after just 13 games is tangible — and tangibly different.
While the team began its season 4-9 to complete its first true set of home and away series sets in 2014 (not counting Arizona’s two losses to the Dodgers in Australia), the Diamondbacks have started this year 7-6 (4-3 on the road), with two series wins in four played — all of which occurred in the NL West.
More importantly, there have been promising signs for a strong foundation upon which the team can continue to build this season.
As the perenial offensive stabilizer for the D-backs, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt has begun the season in, well, Goldschmidt fashion.
He has 15 RBI in 13 games to lead the National League, and five home runs. He’s batting .313 with 15 hits and a 1.088 OPS.
The D-backs have won every game in which he’s recorded an RBI, and he has tallied a run in all but one win.
One of the most pleasant surprises so far has been starting pitcher Archie Bradley.
Bradley, a 22-year-old right-hander, has had two starts for the D-backs. He is just the second pitcher to duel against the returning Cy Young Award recipient, Clayton Kershaw, and the previous season’s World Series MVP, Madison Bumgarner, in his first two starts.
And he outpitched both.
Bradley threw six shutout innings and earned the win against the Dodgers on April 11 while Kershaw gave up 10 hits and five earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched.
The 6-0 win over the dastardly Dodgers put the D-backs ahead in the win-loss column for the first time since Sept. 26, 2013.
He then gave up just two runs and four hits in 6.2 innings against Bumgarner, who allowed six hits and four runs (including two homers) in seven innings pitched.
Bradley didn’t get the win that game, a 12-inning battle during which Oliver Perez, Addison Reed and Andrew Chafin surrendered his lead. The win instead went to Randall Delgado, who retired six batters and gave up two hits and a run in two innings.
Collmenter’s Complete Game
After struggling in his first two starts, Josh Collmenter started his third outing for the D-backs with an 0-2 record and a 6.52 ERA.
Collmenter went on to pitch the first complete-game shutout in the majors this year, and gave up only four hits on defense while getting three hits and an RBI.
Another starting pitcher who intitally struggled, Jeremy Hellickson, redeemed himself against the Giants with his first win as a Diamondback Sunday after giving up eight hits in 6.2 innings with one earned run and two strikeouts.
The combined performances from Hellickson and Collmenter helped Arizona win its first road series since last July.
A promising young hitter has emerged for Arizona.
Jake Lamb, a 24-year-old out of Washington, has only appeared in 10 games for the D-backs so far this season.
In them, he’s had 12 hits in 29 at-bats, including three doubles, a triple, a home run, and nine RBI for a .414 average and 1.204 OPS.
Ending with Ender
Ender Inciarte managed to bring something to several of the D-backs’ opening games that was not seen for a large portion of the previous season: Energy.
Inciarte ended (sorry) a five-game losing streak against the Dodgers with a walkoff RBI single on April 10 — the first of his career.
He hyped up fans with a 10-pitch at-bat in the bottom of the ninth during the final game of that series in an attempt to pull his team back from a 7-4 deficit.
While the D-backs didn’t get the sweep, Inciarte went on to hit two doubles and a triple for a career-high four RBI in five at-bats during the very next game, a series-opening win over San Diego.