The MLB trade deadline is July 31. The Arizona Diamondbacks must do several things in the second half of the season if they want to consider themselves in contention for a National League wild-card spot.
Of the many essential changes that must happen, the most important is the need to get more wins out of their starters. This has been an issue all season. Having Zack Greinke is great, but this team cannot and should not have to have him carry this team.
Robbie Ray must pitch like he did in 2017 when he was a dominating left-handed pitcher who batters feared having to face. As a complement to Greinke two years ago, Ray was an integral key in helping the Diamondbacks reach post-season play. With a 4-2 victory over Colorado Rockies the on July 6, Ray evened his season record to 6-6, and hopefully showed he is ready to team with Greinke to be a forceful first and second starters for the second half.
Jake Lamb Needs a Big Second Half
Jake Lamb, an All-Star in 2017, has battled back from two injuries. First, he chose to undergo surgery last August to repair his left rotator cuff. Then, just six games into the current season, he went down with a left quadriceps injury and did not return until June 26. He will get playing time to show if he is truly back.
When Eduardo Escobar needs a day off or starts at second base Lamb will be the starting third baseman. Same goes when Christian Walker needs a day off, Lamb will be at first base. Lamb has had a handful of good at-bats recently, but there have also been some that made him look uncomfortable. We know it is a matter of timing and his series against the Rockies shows he may have found that timing. He went three for ten with 6 total bases and hit his first home run. That series are the ones you look for to get you in the right “mind-set.” He needs to keep that consistency at the plate.
David Peralta Needs to Get, then Remain, Healthy
David Peralta was placed on the injured list July 5th with inflammation in his right shoulder. The same shoulder landed him on the injured list in May causing him to miss 11 games. He is such a team guy and wants to be on the field, but they need to be cautious with him and make sure he is fully recovered. He is needed for his power, but it is his leadership that is needed the most.
The Bullpen features five relievers if you count Zack Godley with ERA’s between 4.95 and 6.61. Also, teams appear to have figured out closer Greg Holland. He has blown three of his last five save opportunities. Since a scoreless appearance against the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 5th, Holland’s ERA has shot up from 1.31 to 3.10. Worse, he has managed just five strikeouts against seven walks in 7 1/3-innings. Last Saturday he was shaky but able to protect a two-run lead and get the save. Then on Sunday he gave up a home run before settling in for the save. He is likely not out of the woods yet but he has been given a vote of confidence from Manager Torey Lovullo.
Frustrating Club to Gauge
Three months of the season have passed, and the Diamondbacks remain a frustrating club to gauge. They have shown winning streaks but also struggling losing streaks. They need to put together a nice run and eliminate the bad stretches.
The problems are easy to identify but can be difficult to correct. Some of them can be found with the team’s 20-22 record at home, and 16-27 against divisional foes. With 71 games remaining 38 will be at home.
They need to start working the home-field advantage better. Twenty-eight of the games are against their NL West rivals. On top of that, are games against the Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Washington Nationals, and Philadelphia Phillies, all of which are in the Wild card race.
Also, they are a team that has played 33 games scoring three runs or fewer—tied for sixth-worst in the National League entering the All-Star break. It is hard to know how much to put in all of this, but it should not stop the Diamondbacks from wanting to fix their problems and contend.
Decision to Buy, Sell, or Stay
If the Diamondbacks struggle or put together a winning streak a few weeks into the second half, they will reach the point of the season where the front office will have to make decisions on its playoff chances. That certainly has been a difficult task through the previous three months. Currently, they are two games back of a wild-card spot. However, they are also stuck in a pack of nine teams within five games of that playoff berth.
The team needs to show up in July. Otherwise, they will be shut down and must take look at other players in the minors for next year and beyond. We know April, May, and June are normally not the trading season, but July certainly is. The Diamondbacks front-office will have to decide what they need to do. Some tough decisions could be made in the coming weeks as the second half gets underway.
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