The 2017 edition of the Arizona Diamondbacks are primed to start off better than last season. The team is coming into this year healthy, and with a new manager in Torrey Lovullo. This is Lovullo's first time as a major league manager, after being a bench coach in Boston.
Last year the team finished in fourth place with a (69-93) record in the National League West. So there is definite room for improvement.
Also new to the Dbacks is General Manager Mike Hazen, who made one big move in the off season. Perhaps dealing the best player on the team last season in Jean Segura to the Mariners, in return getting a solid starting pitcher in Taijuan Walker, part of a five player deal. Walker will wear number 99. He said, "It just popped in my head. Its a big number and I am a big guy. I feel good coming into this season after last years ankle injury. I have been working on my off speed pitches, so I can say I am ready to go."
Walker joins a pitching staff with Zach Greinke, Shelby Miller, and Robbie Ray, whom should all be better than a season ago. Miller (3-12) 6.15 ERA and Ray (8-15) 4.90 ERA struggled last season, but both are looked for to be improved. One question mark will be the bullpen. Fernando Rodney is slated to be this years closer. Rodney ranks fifth in active closer saves with 261. The Diamondbacks will surely tweak it as the season goes, just like many other clubs.
The powers that be seem to like what personnel the Dbacks have, and who can blame them. Along with AJ Pollock, is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. Jake Lamb is back at third base and should only continue to get better.
New Dback Manager Torey Lovullo has brought a good and aggressive approach to spring training. Lovello and his staff have impressed on his players to do it once, and do it right, which can make a difference in winning games. Lovullo said, "I have an incredible staff, if I say I have and idea or thought, we expand on that, then these guys go out and execute it in practice. It's baseball 101, enhanced a little bit here and there. The little things can add up. We are going to play aggressive this year."
Two new catchers, Chris Iannetta and Jeff Mathis who are considered defensive specialists will surely help a pitching staff that had the worst ERA in major league baseball last season. Chris Herrman returns as a Diamondback for a second season, rounds out the catching core. Iannetta played with Seattle last season, while Mathis spent the last four seasons with the Miami Marlins.
The 2017 season opens at 1:10pm today at home with the San Francisco Giants. Starting pitchers will be Madison Bumgarner (15-9) 2.74 ERA in 34 starts, 4 complete games, 1 shutout, in 2016. The Dbacks will counter with Zack Greinke (13-7) 4.37 ERA in 26 starts, 1 complete game, 1 shutout, in 2016.