2021 Diamondbacks Predictions: Competing in a Treacherous NL West

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2021 Diamondbacks Predictions have the team in a tough spot.
2021 Diamondbacks Predictions have the team in a tough spot.

With the difficult 2020 season in the rearview mirror and Spring Training approaching, it is time to make our 2021 Diamondbacks Predictions. After a disappointing season, this Arizona team needs a return to form if they want to contend in an increasingly harder NL West.

2021 Diamondbacks Predictions: Bumgarner Regains Consistency

Last year, the Diamondbacks caused a stir with the signing of veteran lefty Madison Bumgarner, but the acquisition didn’t boost their chances.

After a shaky but solid start, Madbum’s season bottomed out by the end of August; his average fastball speed decreased by four miles per hour, and had a brief stint in the IL. During this period, The Diamondbacks lost 18 of 20 games, which buried their contention chances for good.

The pitcher also known as Mason Saunders finished the season with a 1-4 record, with 6.49 ERA and an alarming 2.8 HR/9; At the tail end of September, however, his last two starts were particularly great, including 10 scoreless innings and a rhythm that recalled his Spring Training performance.

This can be a sign of things to come; Bumgarner, with his five-year, 85 million dollar contract, is thought to lead the rotation in 2021, and with a longer time to prepare, a full 162-game schedule, and hopefully not a COVID-19-related suspension, he can get his groove back.

Bats Will Still Struggle

On the other hand, the picture for the batting department doesn’t look too bright. When it comes to the 2021 Diamondbacks predictions, the departure of Starling Marte and the fact that their division rivals include two teams loaded with MVP-caliber talent severely hurts their chances to compete.

The only player that is likely to take a leadership role is Ketel Marte, although he showed signs of decline last year, as his power evaporated during the August debacle and he ended the campaign with a .287/.323/.409 batting line and a meager 0.4 WAR. Marte remains one of the team’s key contributors though, and he’s expected to lead the charge in 2021 both with his bat and his glove.

The other two hitters that could join Marte at the forefront are Nick Ahmed and Eduardo Escobar; both are expected to show good, albeit not spectacular numbers, as Fangraphs only gives them both an estimated 1.3 WAR each.

To make matters even more complicated for Arizona, their front office, despite the payroll flexibility, with an estimated luxury tax number more than $100 million below the penalty threshold, is not likely to obtain more much-needed depth via trades or free agency. That leaves them with their farm system, which is improving, but 2021 is probably not their time to shine.

Zac Gallen Continues To Improve

No list of 2021 Diamondbacks Predictions is complete without highlighting the exciting talent of Zac Gallen, who was undoubtedly the team’s MVP in 2020.

Gallen was formidable in his 12 starts last year, collecting a 2.75 ERA with 1.11 WHIP in 72 innings of work. His 3.31 BB/9 is still a bit concerning, as he’s intended to get a more important role next season, and strike zone control is essential to fulfill those expectations, but he’s proven to outperform his previous year’s numbers, which is why ZiPS projects Gallen to be the top pitcher in the D-backs staff, with a 123 ERA+ and worth 3.6 WAR.

2021 Diamondbacks Predictions: Better, but Not Good Enough

Last year was a nightmare for the Diamondbacks, finishing dead last in their division with a 25-35 record and the subsequent loss of key players. For this reason, they hold a less commanding presence in 2021, which also points to yield similar results.

Nevertheless, the 2021 Diamondbacks predictions are not too hard on them, as they are expected to improve in different areas, with figures that will likely come out of their slump, and the possibility of new talent emerging from their bank of prospects.

Still, with an inconsistent, injury-prone line-up, and a mediocre-at-best bullpen, 2021 doesn’t seem to be their year. Besides, having no significant roster changes damages their possibilities, especially considering the recent trades that boosted rivals San Diego Padres, in their search of challenging the Dodgers’ supremacy. They will depend on having everything happen their way and MLB keeping the extended playoffs if they want to even aspire for a spot.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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