Insider: Pitching Not D-backs’ Biggest Concern

Arizona Sports News online

With high expectations can come disappointments.

Despite barely breaking the seal on the 2016 season some have already soured on the slow-starting Arizona Diamondbacks who made as much of a “splash” this past winter as any team in baseball.

A major part of their off-season remodeling was landing top-of-the-rotation arms in Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. Their desert debuts yielded a combined 13 runs, 17 hits and six home runs allowed.

Social media was set ablaze, particularly after Greinke’s rough debut, but one baseball insider believes the start was simply an anomaly and there’s a far bigger reason for concern in Arizona.

“Zack Greinke’s track record is pretty damn good,” ESPN baseball insider Pedro Gomez told during his weekly segment. “To me the biggest issue that the D-backs face through the first week is losing A.J. Pollock probably for the year. You lose your center fielder. You lose your leadoff hitter.”

Gomez believes Greinke and Miller will make adjustments moving forward, particularly with Greinke’s poor pitch location which essentially led to a Rockies’ batting practice at Chase Field Monday night However, losing a steady, every day All-Star like Pollock could be too much to overcome for reasons which go well beyond the box score.

“You look at…a guy who’s very highly respected inside that clubhouse,” he explained. “Even though he’s not a vocal leader, he’s a leader by example. You can say a lot of things or you can do a lot of things that mean more than saying a lot of things and that’s what Pollock had.”

A similar comparison is teammate Paul Goldschmidt who lets his play between the lines, not his words, do the talking. The two are close friends and it’s easy to see why.

“You could see that Pollock was following Goldschmidt’s lead,” Gomez said. “In, you don’t need to say a lot, you just need to do a lot.’ That’s where they’re going to be missing [Pollock].”

Gomez believes converted outfielder Chris Owings will be a serviceable replacement but Arizona’s defense takes a substantial hit with the loss of Pollock. His plate discipline and experience in the leadoff spot is also a big loss for Chip Hale’s team.