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The Bard's Take: The Road to the Postseason

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Despite and underwhelming start, the Diamondbacks are still in the driver's seat and have a great shot at 92 wins.

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As of today, the Philadelphia Phillies are 19-14, and seem to be winning as much through smoke and mirrors as through actual talent. Why does this matter? In the month of June, the Diamondbacks will play 27 games in 30 days. That is a downright leisurely pace compared to the 43 games in 45 days Arizona is in the midst of opening the season with. In those 27 June games are 21 games against the Rays, Phillies, Astros, Marlins, and Rockies. The Phillies are currently the best team of that crop. The other six games are against the division rival Los Angeles Dodgers and the best-in-baseball Chicago Cubs, in the Windy City. While May does feature six games on the road against the Pirates and Cardinals, it also provides nine more games against teams having poor seasons. A win tonight puts the Diamondbacks back at .500 on the season. Simply taking care of business and allowing for some continued struggles against tough teams while the roster gets healthy and rested, it is a very reasonable expectation that the Diamondbacks finish May with an overall record of 27-27.

Looking forward to June, where the team will have a chance to rest and to put its best foot forward, it is entirely conceivable that they finish the month 17-10, putting them seven games above .500 entering the month of July. That's also seven games over .500 at the 81-game mark. Sure, the schedule picks up in intensity again in July, August, and September, but even July is still a very winnable month, especially with the break in there to rest the team even more. Even if the Diamondbacks go .500 the rest of the season, they would finish the year at 88-74, putting them squarely in the postseason conversation coming out of the NL West. If they are able to beat up on teams like Colorado, San Diego, and the woeful Braves, who come to Arizona to play four in August, the Diamondbacks could still eek out being four games over .500 for the second half of the season. That's a 92-win season and also a likely ticket to the crapshoot that is the MLB playoffs.

The Diamondbacks have arrived at this point despite:

  • Zack Greinke being a mediocre starter for most of the early season, with only half of his starts being solid outings.
  • Shelby Miller being the worst starting pitcher in baseball still holding a rotation spot.
  • Paul Goldschmidt going through a wicked slump early in the season.
  • Nick Ahmed upsetting the BABIP gods to the tune of a .168 BA on a .178 BABIP despite his hard-hit%
  • David Peralta and Yasmany Tomás both going down, forcing the team to rely on a suspect outfield.
  • The Arizona bullpen throwing more innings than any other bullpen in baseball.
  • Chris Owings going through a difficult transition from middle infielder to center fielder.

At least three of those should correct themselves moving forward. If the Diamondbacks are already this good despite those problems, just how much better will they be once their deficiencies begin to correct themselves?

There are still plenty of ways this season could go down the drain. Shelby Miller may continue to struggle to fix his mechanics and finish the season by limping to a league-high ERA. Outfield health is always suspect, especially when the players playing the outfield are not accustomed to playing there on a regular, daily basis. Welington Castillo and Chris Hermann could remind the baseball world why many picked the Diamondbacks as having the worst catching duo in the game. Jake Lamb's arm issues could sideline him for 50 games as his foot issues did last season.

This is still early times in the season though. The Diamondbacks are riding high on a five-game winning streak, going into play today, and look to be in a good position to stretch it to six games, making it their longest winning streak since their six-game streak from July 25-31 of last season. This is the time for optimism. This is the time for realizing just how special this team could still be.