Arizona Diamondbacks 2019 Fantasy Projections – Diamondbacks Could Tumble Faster than Tumbleweeds
Rattlesnakes are pesky reptiles. The Arizona Diamondbacks have a team that could themselves prove little more than pesky. They have lost important cogs off a team that is only two years removed from a 93 win season and wildcard win over divisional rival Colorado. However, with so many holes created by the departure of key players, the Diamondbacks might take a fast tumble across the Arizona desert.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2018 Recap
The 2018 season began with promise for Arizona. They won their first nine straight series' to become the first team to accomplish that in 111 years. In July, they set a franchise record for runs in a game, pounding the San Diego Padres 20 to 5.
But, like the bullpen car they started using at the start of the season, their own season began to drive right off a cliff. On July 1, they were in first place, 2½-games ahead of the Dodgers. At the end of the month, they were holding course, now tied with LA.
August was a draw, as they finished with an identical 14 wins as Los Angeles still tied for the division lead. The Colorado Rockies were inching back into the picture at the same time. Both the Rockies and Dodgers took off, and Arizona plummeted in September.
The Diamondbacks won only eight times the final month to finish nine games back in the NL West Division. For whatever reason, Arizona management decided the late-season swoon was enough to shift into a rebuild mindset, and they parted ways with three of their best players.
2019 Fantasy Pitchers Projections – The Best of the Arizona Arms
Fantasy pitching staffs will have their eye on the top three Arizona Diamondback starters. Leagues that reward for holds and productive innings will also want to take a long look at Arizona reliever Archie Bradley.
Zack Greinke is the de facto ace of the staff, but many feel Robbie Ray is the better pitcher. Both have top-tier stuff for fantasy purposes and warrant being the ace of any staff. However, Ray landed on the DL with an oblique injury one-month into the season.
He finished 6-2 with a 165 strikeouts over 123-plus innings pitched. Ray appeared to regain his command by mid-August, but his control made it hard for him to get past the sixth inning. In fact, it is a little concerning that he only pitched into the seventh inning after his return only one time.
Ray has always had the potential to be a dominant strikeout pitcher, but as he works to regain the command that led him to a 15-5, 2017 season, people wonder about possible control problems.
Greinke has rarely had control issues. The one issue with him heading into 2019 may be one of getting-on in years. It may seem hard to believe, but this will be Zack Greinke's 16th major league season.
He has normally been masterful at limiting the damage of base runners, exemplified by having an ERA over 4.00 only twice in his career. Greinke has fanned over 200 hitters, three out of the past five seasons, and missed that mark by one strikeout in 2018.
The third viable fantasy starter on the Diamondback staff is another Zack, Godley. Zack Godley is part of the reason that Arizona parted ways with Patrick Corbin. However, Godley still has a lot to do to prove as viable a fantasy pitcher as Corbin already is.
Godley's biggest enemy has been his erratic control. He has trouble locking in on the strike zone. This not only has helped balloon his WHIP to a career 1.68, but it also means he has to come into a hitter's wheelhouse more often than he'd like to.
The four and five slots in the Diamondback rotation should be denoted by big question marks. One is Luke Weaver, who Arizona received as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Weaver was once a coveted prospect in the Cardinals organization, but he lost his spot in the rotation last season, and was deemed expendable for an all star bat.
The final spot is going to be projected as Merrill Kelly, a former Tampa Bay Ray minor leaguer who has been throwing in Korea the last four years. Kelly has never pitched in a major league game, so the Diamondbacks appear to be throwing a dart here, hoping Kelly found something before unnoticed during his time playing in the Far East.
What this all means from a fantasy perspective isn't completely clear. Greinke is aging, but still an excellent professional baseball pitcher. Ray has the power to dominate, if he can get the ball over the plate.
While Godley has yet to show anything close to consistency, he also has the tools to pitch well at the major league level. Same problem with Ray holds true for Godley, he has to get the ball over the plate to be successful.
2019 Fantasy Hitter Projections – The Best Bats on the Rattlers
When you lose your best player, plus one of your top-three most productive hitters, your offense is likely going to suffer. Arizona's offense may be like a rattlesnake without much of a bite. Much of David Peralta's success certainly had to be attached to Paul Goldschmidt and AJ Pollock being part of the Diamondback's lineup.
They are both now departed, leaving David Peralta to shoulder the burden of driving in Diamondbacks by himself. Behind Peralta in the lineup now is Steven Souza Jr. Unfortunately, 5 home runs and 29 RBIs in 72 games isn't going to do much to intimidate major league pitchers. That means Peralta's pitch selection may not always be appealing.
After Souza Jr. comes Jake Lamb, followed by Nick Ahmed. Ahmed hit .234 last season, and Lamb has experienced tremendous challenges staying on the ball field. As part of a three player swap for Goldschmidt Arizona received Carson Kelly from the Cardinals. Kelly has as lifetime batting average of .154.
Arizona will finish out their first eight hitters with Jarrod Dyson, a flashy speedster. Dyson can steal bases when it gets on base, but he has shown problems accomplishing that necessary feat first. He batted .189 in 2018, which logically led to only 16 steals.
What that means for Arizona's offensive prognosis is not good. They have a cleanup hitter who managed to leave the yard only five times, plus a pair of hitters in their order who batted below the Mendoza line.
Lamb will be dealing with shift across the diamond defensively, making room for Eduardo Escobar to play third base and probably hit leadoff. After Peralta, the most viable Diamondback bat for fantasy consideration could be Wilmer Flores.
Flores is an okay major league second baseman. However, he has a lifetime .262 batting average with a career best 18 home runs in 2017. He has a grand total of three stolen bases and just over 200 RBIs in his last four full seasons collectively as a starter with the Mets.
Needless to say, it should be easy to see why fantasy owners should look past the Diamondbacks for potential hitters. After Peralta, there simply isn't anything more viable than a possible flier on Lamb living up to his power potential.
Fantasy Rank for the Arizona Diamondbacks
All three of the Diamondback's top-three pitchers should be on fantasy rosters. They are, however, the only viable additions from a team that could challenge for the worst record in the National League.
Unless certain players realize the potential they have yet to realize, and others dramatically overachieve, Arizona will struggle to score. On their pitcher's good days, they will be a pesky sort of competitive. On the bad days they will have the potential to be woefully bad.
The Bottom Line for the Rattlers
Arizona's top-three starting pitchers are going to be difficult to score runs against. They will need to be near perfect, however, to keep the Diamondbacks in ballgames. The offense simply doesn't have anyone heading into the new season with any history of production.
There is some talent in the bullpen if Arizona moves into the later innings with a lead. However, any injuries, especially on the pitching staff, could result in the Diamondbacks tumbling down the standings ladder faster than tumbleweeds across an Arizona desert.