Sarah's Take: D-backs not living up to expectations

Injuries, a struggling offense and pitching rotation, holding club back

Sarah's Take: D-backs not living up to expectations

Before Spring Training began, many baseball experts believed the Arizona Diamondbacks would be a factor in the NL West. So far this season, things haven't gone the D-backs' way, and currently they dwell in 4th place in the NL West, 11 1/2 games back of the division-leading San Francisco Giants.

After the D-backs had one of the best offenses in baseball last season, they concentrated on upgrading their starting rotation this past offseason. However, despite playing half their games in an excellent offensive ballpark, the D-backs are 12th in runs scored in the league.

Why is Arizona having offensive problems?

On the last weekend of Spring Training, the D-backs lost their fantastic center fielder A.J. Pollock with a broken elbow. Not only is he a defensive force in center field, but Pollock was a major offensive contributor for the D-backs last season. When the injury occurred, Pollock vowed to return this season, despite missing almost the entire 2012 season with a similar injury.

Of course, the D-backs have attempted to replace Pollock with another quality center fielder. Chris Owings did well until plantar fasciitis in his left foot landed him on the disabled list. After the Toronto Blue Jays released "Speedy", 33-year-old center fielder Michael Bourn, in May, the D-backs signed him in hopes of igniting the offense. However, during his career, Bourn has been plagued with a low on-base percentage, and this season has been no exception.

Perennial All-Star Paul Goldschmidt struggled until recently, but the D-backs still can't find a suitable hitter to perform behind Goldschmidt to force opponents to give him quality pitches to hit.

This past offseason the D-backs lost hitting coach Turner Ward to the Los Angeles Dodgers. For any team, it requires some time to adjust to a new hitting coach, and this is what the D-backs are going through now.

Despite their efforts to improve the starting rotation in the offseason, the D-backs have the 11th best pitching staff in the National League. Since Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson, Brandon Webb, and Dan Haren excelled in Phoenix, not many people realize how difficult it is to pitch at Chase Field. Whether the roof is open or closed, the ball flies out of Chase Field at an alarming rate.

The D-backs spent $208 million on acquiring Zack Greinke, arguably the best free agent starter available in the 2015-2016 offseason. After being the runner-up in the NL Cy Young award race, when he had the best ERA in the Major Leagues, Greinke has humongous expectations on his back. In his first two starts as a D-back, Greinke struggled, but in his last 8 starts, he has looked like his old self.

Although Shelby Miller had a poor win-loss record in 2015 with the Atlanta Braves, the D-backs sent three great prospects to Atlanta to acquire Miller. The D-backs thought Miller would be their second best starter in the rotation, but Miller's time in Arizona has been a disaster. However, he returned to the starting rotation on Monday after being on the disabled list with a sprained finger, and he pitched 6 2/3 strong innings against the Phillies.

The D-backs' third starter, Rubby De La Rosa, is currently on the disabled list with elbow inflammation and a stretched ligament. Although doctors say De La Rosa won't need Tommy John surgery now, he had it in 2012, so the D-backs need to be careful with him.

Sarah D. Morris can be reached at This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.