Diamondbacks sit atop the NL West… Will it last?

AP Photo/Darryl Webb

The story writes itself.

The young Diamondbacks are making a run at the National League West title.

And they’re serious.

It’d be their first division championship since 2011, if they’re able to swing it.

Led by a skipper who isn’t afraid to stand up for his guys in Torey Lovullo, the 43-29 Diamondbacks have shown an ability to grind out consistent wins.

“We’re pretty versatile,” Lovullo said. “We’re a dynamic team. Once we get the line moving, I think the guys understand how important it is to hand it off to the next guy…we can do it a couple of different ways. It’s a good feeling when you’re sitting in the dugout.”

Even the most loyal Arizona fan would’ve sounded like an over-the-top optimist if they expected the D-backs to lead the NL West with 90 games to go (and I wouldn’t have believed them).

But here they are, and they’re doing it playing a reliable brand of baseball.

Seven players are clocking a .270 batting average or better (123+ AB) and six bats have 30+ RBI so far this season.

“You can feel the energy pushing toward a big inning when we get a couple batters on,” Lovullo said. “Obviously, I’ll always take the long ball… but they’re nothing you can really count on. I’d rather have guys that are good hitters than can hit home runs and I think we have a lot of those guys.”

“It’s just, I think, a testament to all our hitting coaches,” outfielder Corbin Carroll said. “Just continuing to grind away every day.”

It’s also a testament to talented guys like Carroll (.305, 246 AB, 15 HR, 38 RBI, 19 SB) who are growing in front of our eyes.

“He’s a freak,” veteran Evan Longoria said. “That’s what we say in the dugout. You look at him and he’s a lot in a small package. He can do everything. He runs, he throws, he covers a ton of ground in the outfield, and obviously, a lot of power in there. He’s fun to watch.”

They’re dangerous on the base paths too, sprinting their way to top five in stolen bases (66 SB) in all of baseball.

Something else that same loyal Arizona fan would’ve told you (or should’ve anyway), is that we’ve seen the Diamondbacks hold the NL West lead for much of the season before…just for them to run out of gas at some point.

Most notably in 2018, when they led the division for months until a September collapse pushed them out of the playoff picture altogether.

On the pitching staff – Zac Gallen has continued to be a stud, especially at Chase Field:

Behind Gallen (8-2, 91.1 IP, 2.96 ERA, 100 K) and Merrill Kelly (8-3, 83.0 IP, 3.04 ERA, 89 K), the starting rotations tapers off a bit.

Perhaps a pitcher like Shane Bieber (5-4, 95.0 IP, 3.51 ERA, 69 K), whom they faced this weekend, can bolster the rotation ahead of the trade deadline on August 1st.

“When you’re going against a pitcher of Bieber’s ability with the quality stuff that he has,” Lovullo said. “You’re just trying to figure out how you’re gonna grind out your day.”

Defensively, this team is simply unique.

With an outfield consisting of Carroll, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy, and Pavin Smith, the versatility is palpable. 

And while catcher Carson Kelly has returned to the lineup, Gabriel Moreno held his own in a big way behind the plate, and can do so when called upon.

Moreno has the No. 1 caught stealing rate and top defensive WAR among catchers in the majors.

From outfield celebrations:

To the victory vest:

What this group lacks in pitching depth and overall experience, it makes up for in chemistry and selflessness.

As far as team bonding, that can look different depending on who you ask.

“Everyone just took care of business their way,” Carroll said. “Some people swung it, some people got a lift in, and some people played chess.”

They hold a 3.5 game lead over the Giants as they’ll face off nine more times this regular season. They’ll have seven more shots at the Padres and five more contests against the Dodgers as well.

For now, the Diamondbacks have acted like they’ve been there any time they’ve been asked about their fantastic start.

“Another great game,” Carroll said. “Another come from behind victory…seems to be a trend right now…makes it a little more interesting.” 

“These next few weeks, it’s time for the gas pedal,” infielder Christian Walker said. “We’re not trying to sit on a record or be comfortable with anything. Every day, we prepare our hardest. We treat everybody the same…it’s all gas, no breaks from here.”

Let’s see how the Snakes progress now that the dog days of summer have arrived.