Before I start this review I’d like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, whether you celebrate it or not, and hope you have a good day.
Name: Torey Lovullo
Position: Field Manager
2020 Age: 55
2020 Season in Review
The Arizona Diamondbacks combined for a 260-226 record under Torey Lovullo, which resulted in the team extending his contract another two seasons. The Diamondbacks were coming off an 85-win season and had more payroll flexibility after a strong August and September. After a pretty noteworthy offseason that saw the team make a couple big splashes, one in the free agent market and the other in a trade, it was playoffs or bust for the D-backs. Unfortunately, 2020 proved to be a disaster for the club due to a lot of crazy elements.
First the season was put on hold due to the COVID-19 outbreak, which caused teams to have to wait 4 months before being able to resume any organized baseball activities and perhaps too short a ramp-up period to prepare for the season. It obviously affected teams in different ways, but in the D-backs case 2020 proved to be Murphy’s Law for the organization. The team struggled to get any consistent pitching outside of Zac Gallen and Stefan Crichton, as the other players who had to fill in the other 48 starts ended up being injured and/or ineffective. At the same time, there were issues with the lineup on a consistent basis with a lot of players regressing hard in 2020.
Overall, the team finished 26th in wRC+ at 88 and 20th in ERA+ at 92. However if you look at individual performances, the number of players who had a good year in 2020 can be counted on one hand. Lovullo does get some criticism for a lack of urgency as a manager at times, especially when the season fell off the rails in late August, although the staunch reality is the 2020 D-backs never had much of a chance once the team became depleted. Due to the inability to get consistently solid performances from pretty much anyone, the team limped to a 25-35 finish and will be picking 6th in the 2021 Draft.
Given how weird 2020 was, I believe you can write off some of what happened as a fluke but it also showed the weaknesses of the organization as a whole. Going into 2021, Torey Lovullo is pretty much in a get this team to win or you’re done situation. It’s not playoffs or bust, but they’ll need to win much more than 41.7% of their games in 2021 or it’s curtains for the entire coaching staff. The outlook isn’t great barring some significant bounceback performances from Ketel Marte, Eduardo Escobar, Carson Kelly, Madison Bumgarner, and others.
The roster doesn’t offer much high-end talent if Marte’s 2019 ultimately proves to be a fluke and Zac Gallen’s ERA actually regresses towards his FIP. Both players have flashed the potential to be game-changers for the D-backs, but the question will be the ability to repeat that level of production. Lovullo and the coaching staff will need to figure out how to get more consistent performances from their pitchers, as being below league average in run prevention is not going to put this team in a good position due to the lack of high-end bats in the lineup.
All-in-all, I’d put 50/50 odds at best that Lovullo is managing the Diamondbacks in 2022. While his .522 win percentage puts him 2nd all time amongst the organization’s managers behind Bob Brenly, the team has never had a manager last five full seasons in the dugout in their 23-year history, which is an ominous sign for the 5th year skipper. The team is also likely to cut payroll with revenue losses in 2020, although I have less sympathy since the owners and players played a game of chicken for 3 months, which will hamstring their ability to add talent via free agency and could deplete the farm system when the team needs to add guys to field a roster. Lovullo has a bad hand to deal with and he has to at least get the team to play around .500 ball with general improvements on both the pitching and hitting to keep his job after the season.
Best of luck to Torey in 2021, he’s going to need it.