Roundtable: What are our expectations for the 2023 Diamondbacks?

Mar 29, 2023, 10:00 AM | Updated: Mar 30, 2023, 7:25 am

Mike Hazen, Torey Lovullo...

Mike Hazen, Torey Lovullo, and Ken Kendrick of the Arizona Diamondbacks look on at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 12, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

A boom in the farm system and a bit of roster churning in the past two years has the Arizona Diamondbacks thinking positively about 2023.

Touting strong top-end starters on the pitching staff and leaning more on an athletic, youthful outfield should at the least make this D-backs squad competitive. Will that be enough to push for their first postseason berth since 2017?

It could be tough in a deep NL West. Here’s what our Arizona Sports hosts and editors think this Arizona team can achieve this season.

How many games do you see the D-backs winning in 2023? Give us your expectations about how they’ll reach that mark.

John Gambadoro, co-host of Burns & Gambo: I am going to go over .500, so give me 82 wins and in Wild Card contention. It’s a good one-two punch at the top of the rotation. But that pressure they put on opposing teams with their speed and baserunning will account for more wins than one would think. Plus, not having the shift will really benefit the D-backs’ left-handed batters. And I am hopeful a power-armed bullpen will have the swing-and-miss stuff that can get out of jams.

Dan Bickley, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: The Diamondbacks will win 83 games and flirt with a Wild Card berth. They have a handful of potential breakout players and surprisingly good depth in their starting rotation. Even if their bullpen always seems to be an adventure.

Ron Wolfley, co-host of Wolf & LukeEighty-two is the number because Luke Lapinski said the D-backs will win 81 games in 2023. I am an optimist and there are reasons to be optimistic about the Diamondbacks and this summer … more optimistic than even Lapinski.

The rule changes favor the Dbacks. They have young guns that put the ball in play, with some pesky pop in their bats. They have speed in the field and on the base paths that will limit runs and produce runs. They have the motivation and desire to establish themselves at the big league level and just enough veterans to help point them in the right direction.

Yes, there are many questions about this young team. What happens if their rotation falls apart and puts undue pressure on the bullpen? That will set off a chain reaction that we all saw last season; and we all better hope those rule changes and young-gun bats produce lots of runs or this team won’t win 75 games.

I think this team will be a surprise in the National League this summer. How much these kids develop and how quickly they develop will determine their shock value. After all, speed kills.

Dave Burns, co-host of Burns & Gambo: Put me down for 83 wins. A co-worker in the hall asked me the other day: I ambitiously said 85 but after thinking about it a little I have enough questions about the rotation to scale back a little. I think Merrill Kelly is due to take a small step back and I have questions (concerns actually) about Zach Davies and Madison Bumgarner. The bullpen is a Forest Gump box of chocolates that is harder to predict. But they’ll score runs. They’ll definitely score runs. I think they’re poised to take advantage of the new rules and will feature a highlight-reel offense.

Luke Lapinski, co-host of Wolf & Luke: Eighty-one wins. They won 74 last year and yes, I know you don’t just automatically win more games each season as you rebuild, but there’s a lot of potential they can tap into. The development of Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy alone should be worth a few more wins. And the fact that Major League Baseball’s new balanced schedule means they play the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres a combined 26 times — instead of 38 like they used to — matters. The rotation has some questions after Zac Gallen and Kelly, and the bullpen is a total unknown at this point. Those are real issues. But this team’s moving in the right direction, the rule changes could help amplify the value of their speed on the basepaths and there’s a high ceiling if a few of these young hitters flash. I’m sticking with 81.

Vince Marotta, co-host of Bickley & Marotta: The number 86 comes to mind for D-backs wins. With the rule changes, the D-backs should even be more fun to watch offensively with Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy running wild. That will be a huge component of their improvement, but I also like this rotation and there’s no way the bullpen can’t be way better, right?

Steve Zinsmeister, co-host of The Ain’t No Fang podcast: I’ll go with 80-82. It seems obvious that the Diamondbacks are heading in the right direction. I could see the Dodgers taking a small step back (still a good team) and the San Francicso Giants regressing as well. There are some wins up for grab in this division. However, the excitement of this young offense doesn’t yet outweigh my concern for the pitching staff. After Gallen, the starting rotation is thin. The bullpen is almost completely new from last season. That’s usually not a great recipe for success.

Tyler Drake, editor: The D-backs are on the up-and-up after a season of clear improvement, seeing their wins jump up from 52 in 2021 to 74 this past year. While I don’t see another 22-game jump in the cards in 2023, I do think we’ll continue to see that upward trajectory from Arizona. Put me down for 82 wins, with the potential to add a few more if the young guys show out like they should, MadBum bounces back after a rough 2022 and the bullpen situation isn’t as shaky as it was last year.

Kellan Olson, editor: A lot more of that energetic and scrappy ball club we saw more consistently in the last two months of the season. Now, whether that is going to be closer to 75 wins or 90 depends on a handful of worst/best-case scenarios for individual players that have varying ceilings and floors. I’m going to go the optimistic route and say 85 based on the identity of a team we saw begin to form over that time. The talent is there, from the more unproven level with Carroll and Gabriel Moreno to past hot commodities like Bumgarner and Ketel Marte. Even if I’m wrong and a year early, buy your stock now.

Jake Anderson, editor: I think the D-backs will be right around the .500 mark, with the ability to win upwards of 85-87 games. Now, that metric could be good enough for a Wild Card spot, but a few things have to happen. First, the Diamondbacks need to stay healthy and they’re already off to a bad start with catcher Carson Kelly sidelined for several weeks with a forearm fracture and last year’s lone All-Star Joe Mantiply already on the IL. On the field, Gallen and Merrill Kelly will once again have to carry the load of the starting rotation like they did a season ago, while the combination of power and speed at the plate provides enough run support for the bullpen to hold leads. Which is where the biggest question mark of Arizona in 2023 is: Who does Torey Lovullo trust at the backend of games in high-leverage situations? Your guess is as good as mine for a position the skipper says will be “fluid” for at least the first month of the season.

Kevin Zimmerman, lead editor: Carroll posted 1.1 WAR — good for seventh-best among position players — in just 32 games. Thirty-two! His ascension will make up for the trade of Daulton Varsho, and I think the team will improve to 80 wins this year. I still just can’t trust the backend of the rotation or the bullpen, even if there are a few more options to turn to if it gets rough.

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Roundtable: What are our expectations for the 2023 Diamondbacks?