The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks spring training campaign is underway and the team currently sits under .500 through the team’s first handful of games. The team is looking at a few obstacles already in the young campaign, With one of its key starters in Kole Calhoun going down with a torn meniscus in his right knee that will murky up the potential of an opening day return.
Despite the loss of the team’s starting right fielder, the team is gaining back one of its hopeful key pieces for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks in Tim Locastro. With Locastro already taking place in games, the speedy outfielder will look to claim a starting role, Locastro can also operate in a utility role so it will be worth taking note of how they use him around the diamond this spring.
2021 Arizona Diamondbacks: Early Spring Heaters
With less than a month until opening day, The Diamondbacks will look for some of the hot starts in the spring to translate over into the regular season. One of the names off to a hot start is third baseman, Josh Rojas. Rojas is turning heads with his .361/.425/.667 slash line that includes three home runs and a 4/11 walk to strikeout ratio through 36 plate appearances.
Some of the starters for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will look to keep the hot bats rolling when the regular season rolls around, for example, Ketel Marte carries a .476/.542/.952 slash-line with four doubles and two home runs. The Diamondbacks will hope Marte can continue putting together hard contact, Four of Marte’s balls in play have had exit velocities over 110MPH, and altogether seven batted balls over 100MPH.
The roster for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks doesn’t have many obvious holes for players to slot into. With the recent signing of Asdrubal Cabrera, A vast majority of the players will be competing for bench spots and auditioning for injury replacements and mid-season call-ups.
Among the players competing for spots early in spring training include Daulton Varsho, Pavin Smith, Andy Young, and Josh VanMeter. The Diamondbacks early on in the spring have also given a lot of playing time to Trayce Thompson. Despite the lackluster numbers, he could be a filler in hopes of sending him to the minor leagues as outfield depth.
Pitching Still in Question
Through his eight innings of spring training, presumed ace for a 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks squad lacking difference-makers, Zac Gallen has blanked opponents over his three starts. He has looked like the pitcher that will look to headline the Diamondbacks rotation into the regular season.
Per the team’s beat writer, Steve Gilbert, Madison Bumgarner threw three innings in a simulated game after just one spring appearance where he would make all six outs via the strikeout over two innings pitched. One of the main questions coming into the season for Bumgarner is the velocity; Bumgarner’s fastball in his first outing sat as high as 91MPH, which is a huge improvement from his 86 mph average on fastballs in 2020.
The remainder of the projected rotation for the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks have struggled out of the gate. Luke Weaver, Merrill Kelly, and Caleb Smith all with different obstacles through the beginning of spring training.
Through his seven innings, Caleb Smith has posted seven walks with an ERA over 8.00. The control issues aren’t shocking given the similar profile he shares with former Diamondback Robbie Ray Smith has plenty of time to get things going once the season ramps up. The 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks will hope he can find what he had while he was a Marlin in his 2019 “breakout”.
Luke Weaver and Merrill Kelly both are in the same boat in the early spring struggles like many players. Still, both of the right-handed pitchers will look to progress as the spring continues into the 2021 campaign.
When the 2021 Arizona Diamondbacks roster is all said and done, one of the team’s holes will be the team’s bullpen situation. The acquisition of Joakim Soria will likely mean he is the team’s closer. It will be interesting to monitor how the Diamondbacks will work with the bullpen over the last few weeks of spring.
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