After finishing last season with a 69-93 record, it didn’t seem likely that the Arizona Diamondbacks would start out the 2017 season with a 7-3 record that’s tied for the best in the National League.
But with 152 regular season games left, so the natural question is: Can they sustain this degree of success throughout the year?
That’s what ESPN writer Mark Simon tried to figure out in his story about MLB teams with surprisingly hot starts, which also included the Cincinnati Reds and the Los Angeles Angels.
Of these three teams, the Diamondbacks may have the best case for legitimacy, given the track records of some of their most notable players — Paul Goldschmidt, Zack Greinke and A.J. Pollock.
Grienke has gotten off to a good start, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA and 10 strikeouts across two starts.
Goldschmidt is batting .270 with two home runs and 10 hits, and Pollock has a .238 average after missing most of last season with an elbow injury he suffered in spring training.
While Goldschmidt and Pollock haven’t hit up to their norms, Arizona has gotten production from Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, Chris Owings, and Yasmany Tomas, all of whom are all hitting over .320 with at least 30 at-bats, which is partly why the D-backs lead the league with 55 runs.
The offense is off to a good start, but there are plenty of concerns around Arizona’s pitching staff.
The question marks come largely from the starting rotation beyond Greinke (of whom there are fastball velocity concerns). Taijuan Walker has a history of inconsistency (two seasons with ERAs of 4 or higher). Patrick Corbin needs to show he can bounce back. Shelby Miller is coming off a 6.15 ERA and largely diminished velocity. And Robbie Ray may be better than his 4.90 ERA showed last season, but he has never had an ERA below 3.50.
So far, the D-backs have allowed 42 runs, which is about middle-of-the-pack. Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin have enhanced Arizona’s rotation beyond Grienke, with ERA’s of 1.80 and 2.19, respectively.
However, Shelby Miller still has an ERA of 5.06 and Taijuan Walker’s ERA is 4.91, so there’s room for improvement for others in the rotation.
With all that said, Simon noted that Fangraphs has the D-backs finishing just below .500 at 80-82.
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