The State of the State: Arizona

July 18, 2023

A look at what’s happening on the Arizona sports scene: Can the Diamondbacks stay in the NL West race?

© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed a little too good to be true. The Diamondbacks, with the 21st-highest payroll in all of Major League Baseball, sat atop the National League West standings for most of the first half. In their rearview mirror were two of the biggest spenders in the game, as they built a lead over the Dodgers (fifth in payroll) and Padres (third).

As the All-Star Game approached, however, objects became closer than they had appeared all season. And by the time the Midsummer Classic arrived, Los Angeles had moved into a tie with Arizona atop the standings.

To some, it seemed like the clock had struck midnight. Cinderella had a good run, but the party was over. It was time for the usual suspect to take centerstage.

That’s probably a bit premature and pessimistic. But it will be a tough race for the D-Backs to stay in down the stretch.

Why to like Arizona to win the NL West (+400)…

  • The Diamondbacks are a great road team, with the second-fewest losses away from home (18) in the National League
  • Zac Gallen can flat out deal; the righthander earned the starting nod in the All-Star Game on the strengths of an 11-3 record and 3.04 ERA
  • Of the 28 players in the NL with 15 or more home runs, four of them are on the D-Backs; Christian Walker (18), Corbin Carroll (18), Ketel Marte (15) and Lourdes Gurriel (15) provide power throughout the lineup

Why to not like Arizona in the NL West…

  • The Diamondbacks haven’t been very good at Chase Field; their 24 home losses is tied for third-most in the NL, just behind and alongside a trio of last-place teams
  • They don’t have a dominant closer; while the best in the game have 20-plus saves, Arizona doesn’t have a single pitcher that’s hit double digits
  • The D-Backs haven’t been to the postseason since 2017, while the Dodgers have reached the playoffs in 10-straight seasons

Richard DeMala’s pick: Los Angeles to win the NL West (-230)