What to watch for in the Diamondbacks’ final series
The Arizona Diamondbacks enter the final series of the year with a 82-77 record, the third-straight season that they finished above .500 but also the second consecutive year without a postseason appearance.
Still, for a team that lost as much firepower as Arizona has since the end of last year (Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock and Zack Greinke), the D-backs showed resilience in 2019.
With one series left against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field, here are some storylines to watch for:
Friday: Eric Lauer vs. Taylor Clarke
Saturday: Garrett Richards vs. Robbie Ray
Sunday: TBD vs. Alex Young
Two rookies, Clarke and Young, starting in the final series seems fitting for a D-backs rotation that has turned over significantly.
Clarke struggled as a starter this year, with an ERA of 6.02 in that role. But he performed well after being moved to the bullpen (3.54 ERA as a reliever), so manager Torey Lovullo is rewarding him with his first start since Aug. 17.
Young performed solidly in the rotation since his call-up in June with a 3.74 ERA and 1.2 WHIP. He set himself up to be a candidate for the rotation going forward.
Taijuan Walker back on the mound?
In April of 2018, Walker suffered a partial tear of his UCL, which required Tommy John surgery to fix. He has not pitched since but may have a shot during the final series.
“Taijuan will throw a bullpen tomorrow,” Lovullo said on Wednesday. “We will see how he feels with the idea of getting him on the mound. It feels like he will get an opportunity to get on the mound again.”
Walker had a strong season in 2017 before the injury (3.49 ERA) and could be a prominent piece in next year’s rotation.
It is unclear in what capacity he will play against San Diego. It depends on how well his bullpen goes. But, according to Lovullo, he is excited for the prospect of pitching this weekend.
Carson Kelly looking to become a D-backs first
No catcher in Arizona history has reached 20 home runs in a season. Miguel Montero became the first to 18 in 2011, and nobody caught up to him until this year.
Carson Kelly tied Montero on Aug. 19 but has hit a cold streak since then. He still has a chance to capture the team record and reach the 20-home run plateau. He just needs one strong series.
Jake Lamb approaching 300 RBIs
Veteran infielder Jake Lamb has 299 career RBIs.
He has three more games to join the 12 players in team history that have reached 300. With Lamb’s injury tendencies and diminished play over the past two seasons, his future with the team could be uncertain. The infielder is entering his final arbitration year.