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Diamondbacks listed by ESPN as a possible surprise contender

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

The Diamondbacks open up the 2019 season next Thursday, with perhaps more uncertainty than in seasons prior.

The departures of Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock via free agency and Paul Goldschmidt via trade have left a lot of production that needs to be replaced, which has made people pessimistic on the team’s chances to improve on the 82 wins they posted last season.

The D-backs still have some talented players left over, though, which is why Craig Edwards of ESPN named them in his article listing four teams that could follow the 2018 Oakland Athletics and be surprise contenders in 2019.

While the lineup lacks star power, every position has a player with at least average production. If David Peralta and Eduardo Escobar repeat their solid 2018 seasons and Jake Lamb recovers from shoulder problems in a lost year, the Diamondbacks should have a well-rounded lineup.

Edwards named the D-backs’ rotation as a strength of the team, and claimed that it could be good enough to keep them in the playoff hunt in the wide open National League.

On the mound, Zack Greinke should provide another good year. Robbie Ray struck out 31 percent of opposing batters last season and continues to show the stuff of an ace. Zack Godley was solid last season and could be again. If Luke Weaver can develop a solid third pitch, he has a ton of promise as well. Merrill Kelly is a wild card after pitching in Korea the past three seasons.

Edwards also said that the D-backs’ bullpen could be a big factor next season, and listed a couple of players that he feels could do well in late-inning situations.

In the pen, Greg Holland pitched well for the Nationals after the Cardinals moved on, and Archie Bradley should provide a ton of key outs. Yoshihisa Hirano and Andrew Chafin could help in late innings, and Taijuan Walker could come back at some point and help in the rotation or in relief.

The D-backs have a lot of ifs that need to go their way in 2019, but in the event that they do, they could surprise some people similar to how the A’s did last year.

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