Arizona’s Most Important Area in Need of Improvement
The Bullpen: Even after an offseason of watching division rivals Los Angeles and San Diego stockpile their rosters in an attempt at winning the NL West this year, Diamondbacks fans should at least want their front office to be active and try and improve upon a 2020 team that finished in last place in their division, and tied with the Baltimore Orioles for the 26th best winning percentage in baseball (.417%). These two division foes will both be offensive juggernauts in 2021, and Arizona needs to at least make their matchups competitive. After a hard fall from grace in 2019, Arizona made quite a few significant decisions at the trade deadline last season in terms of their pitching staff which, continued into this offseason. They sent Andrew Chafin to the Cubs, Robbie Ray to the Blue Jays, and Archie Bradley to the Reds. Additionally, Junior Guerra, Mike Leake, and Hector Rondon are all free agents now and are unlikely to be brought back.
The remaining pieces of the 2020 team that appear to be safe bets to return to the bullpen in 2021 are Alex Young, Stefan Crichton, Yoan Lopez, and Taylor Clarke. Crichton being the most effective of the group with a stat line of, 2.42 ERA, 26 G, 5 SV, 1.19 WHIP, is most likely to enter Spring Training as the team’s closer. In filling out the bullpen, there are a number of high quality arms still on the free agent market that could be affordable for the Diamondbacks even with their financial constraints. Outside of a reunion with Chafin, Arizona could realistically strike a deal with any number of reliable relievers still available including but not limited to: Alex Colome, Sean Doolittle, Jeremy Jeffress, Steve Cishek, and Trevor Rosenthal.
Bringing in an outside upgrade in the bullpen is not a necessity for the 2021 Diamondbacks, but it would certainly help with the amount of star talent present in their division that will be hitting against a relatively young pitching staff.
Arizona Diamondbacks 2021 Projected Depth Chart per MLB.com:
- Stefan Crichton: 42 ERA, 26 G, 5 SV, 1.19 WHIP
- Yoan Lopez: 95 ERA, 20 G, 0 SV, 1.53 WHIP
- Riley Smith: 47 ERA, 6 G, 0 SV, 1.09 WHIP – 2020 debut
- Keury Mella: 80 ERA, 11 G, 0 SV, 1.30 WHIP
- Travis Bergen: 24 ERA, 8 G, 1 SV, 1.68 WHIP
- Taylor Clarke: 36 ERA, 12 G, 0 SV, 1.29 WHIP
- Taylor Widener: 50 ERA, 12 G, 0 SV, 1.30 WHIP – 2020 debut
Bullpen Average: 3.39 ERA, 1.34 WHIP