On Nov. 4, 2016, two days after the Cubs won the World Series, the Diamondbacks named Torey Lovullo manager. In his first season, the D-backs won 93 games, an improvement of 24 victories from the season prior, and Lovullo took home the NL Manager of the Year Award. The following year the club won 9 consecutive series to open the season, but lost momentum in the second half and finished one game above .500. Now in his third season, Lovullo is simply trying to keep his team afloat after losing three of his best players during the offseason: Paul Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollack.
Zack Greinke … 3-years, $95.5M remaining on his contract … he’s been better than you might’ve guessed with Arizona: 95 GS, 56 quality starts, 3.53 ERA … his 10.2 WAR over the last two seasons ranks among the league leaders. Robbie Ray … became the first pitcher in MLB history to strike out 165 batters in 125 innings or fewer. Zack Godley … finished last season with 15 wins … but also had the highest WHIP 1.45 among NL qualifiers. Luke Weaver … arrived via the Goldschmidt trade. Merrill Kelly … spent the last four years pitching in Korea … he starts Friday’s game at Wrigley. Taijuan Walker … is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery and is expected back midseason.
Archie Bradley … has led the majors the past two seasons in holds (61). Yoshihisa Hirano … signed last season as a free agent from Japan … his 32 holds set a franchise rookie record … is vying to be the everyday closer. Andrew Chafin … a lefty specialist who will try to neutralize Rizzo, Schwarber, Heyward, and Descalso.
Adam Jones … 2018: played 145 games; led Orioles in average, hits , doubles, RBI and multi-hit games … elected free agency after the season … no takers until the D-backs signed him—on March 11 … Since joining Arizona, Jones ranks second on the club in runs, hits, HR, RBI, BB, avg., and OBP … What a steal.
Shortstop Nick Ahmed won his first Gold Glove last year. Second baseman Ketel Marte’s bat finally matched his strong defense; he led the NL in triples (12) and set career highs in doubles (33), HR (16) , and RBI (70).
David Peralta had a breakout season in 2018: .293 avg., 30 HR, 87 RBI, .868 OPS … and won the Silver Slugger Award alongside outfielders Christian Yelich and Nick Markakis.
Familiar faces on the coaching staff: Eric Hinske … was the Cubs first base coach in 2014 … and the assistant hitting coach from 2015-17 … spent 2018 as the hitting coach for the Angles … joins the Diamondbacks as their assistant hitting coach. Dave McKay … Spent two seasons as first base coach with the Cubs from 2012-13 … is in his sixth season as the D-backs’ first base coach. Joe Mather … former Cubs outfielder (2012) … is the D-backs Minor League Field/Hitting Coordinator. Dan Haren … started 11 games for the Cubs in 2015 … retired after that season … now serves as the D-backs pitching strategist.
The Diamondbacks reintroduced the bullpen cart in 2018. It turns out they didn’t need to. The only home pitcher to hail a ride was Brad Ziegler, who has since retired. The first ride belonged to Houston’s Collin McHugh; Washington’s Sean Doolittle took advantage on three occasions.
The Diamondbacks (10-9) enter Wrigley having swept the Braves in a three-game set in Atlanta. Probable starters this weekend: RHP Merrill Kelly (1-1, 3.79 ERA); Zack Greinke (2-1, 5.79 ERA); Robbie Ray (0-1, 4.64 ERA). A formidable threesome.