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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks: Opening Day Roster Predictions

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Previously I went over predictions for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks season predictions. Now we are inching closer and closer to pitchers and catchers reporting, and with some teams still looking to add pieces to their team, it’s time to look into what the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks might look like come opening day.

Being in a division with two top-five teams in all of baseball, the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks aren’t in a position to necessarily “tank” or float along without trying to win. Now obviously, who can complain about the team trying to win? Nobody Can. The division gets more interesting with the departure of Nolan Arenado from the division, and who knows what other Colorado Rockies might be on the way out.

The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks don’t have any major departures from their 2020 team (excluding any players traded during the season). In 2021 the Diamondbacks have a respectable-looking team on paper and project to be better than the disappointing pace in their 2020 25-35 season.

2021 Arizona Diamondbacks: Between Two Powerhouses And A Hard Place

Last season the Arizona Diamondbacks finished 23rd in offensive fWAR. The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will look to outperform last season’s numbers as a team if they even want a sniff at the wild card.

The Diamondback’s outfield situation took a hit last season when they shipped off Starling Marte to the Miami Marlins. In the departure of Marte, Tim Locastro and Daulton Varsho are two that will be players to watch as they will look to separate themselves from the rest of the outfield group, including familiar faces in Kole Calhoun and David Peralta.

It seems highly unlikely that the Diamondbacks bring in another outfielder along the lines of a Nomar Mazara or Yasiel Puig in free agency, so the outfield rotation barring any additions will look likely have Locastro operating as the fourth outfielder while also being able to play the infield from time to time.

According to ZIPS projections, the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks, are projected to have one player have an OPS over .800, with that player being second baseman Ketel Marte. At first base, the team is looking into another year of the Christian Walker experiment; despite the age, Walker carries an intriguing amount of upside. The Diamondbacks will continue to arguably be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, with Nick Ahmed on the left side of the infield next to Eduardo Escobar at third base.

The Diamondbacks will split time between Carson Kelly and veteran Stephen Vogt at the catcher position. Something to watch will be how the Diamondbacks use Daulton Varsho, who came up through the minors as a catcher and might get some days behind the plate if injuries occur or Kelly and Vogt can’t get it going.

2021 Arizona Diamondbacks: A Rotation With Untapped Potential

The starting rotation that the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will look to roll out on opening day will be presumably headlined by Zac Gallen. The Diamondbacks will look for a step forward from the highly touted right-hander.

After Gallen, the Diamondbacks will follow up with familiar faces of Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly, Caleb Smith, and last offseason acquisition Madison Bumgarner. The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will look to massively outperform their results from 2020. In the shortened season, the Diamondbacks pitching staff as a whole accounted for 1.8 fWAR, which would be ranked 29th in the league with only the Boston Red Sox being below them.

The bullpen had some minor departures, with Junior Guerra and Hector Rondon leaving via free agency. The bullpen for Arizona will look to bounce back from the disappointing 4.60 ERA and -0.1 fWAR. The Diamondbacks are expected to carry LHP Alex Young as the designated long-relief option with the occasional emergency start.

The rest of the bullpen for the Arizona Diamondbacks will be a cluster of names, with none of them being a true closer. The team may opt for the hot hand approach with the rest of the following names: Stefan Crichton, Kevin Ginkel, Keury Mella, Taylor Widener, Travis Bergen, and Yoan Lopez

The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will look to compete, whether or not that is the best option for the team. The Diamondbacks are in the awkward spot of being too good to tank or rebuild necessarily given the contracts they have on payroll. The team also isn’t anywhere close to the two-headed monster of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. Whatever happens, the team will hope for improvement from the youth in their system.

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Main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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Murray is a college student attending Humber College for Sport Business, can be found on Twitter at @_MurrayBrown