D-backs hope young roster gains momentum in 2nd half

D-backs hope young roster gains momentum in 2nd half

PHOENIX -- The D-backs got a jump on the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline when they moved veteran closer Brad Ziegler to the Red Sox two days before the All-Star break.

Buried in the standings, Arizona hopes to set a tone early in the second half and keep things respectable, so it can build some momentum heading into next year.

"Our main goal coming out of the break is to get back to playing Diamondback baseball -- going hard home to first, everybody, every time, putting pressure on the defense, making the routine plays and executing," D-backs manager Chip Hale said.

Arizona could look to move another veteran piece in right-hander Daniel Hudson, who, like Ziegler, will be a free agent at season's end. One thing that won't happen is a sell-off of players who are under contract for next season, as the D-backs hope to be more competitive in 2017 and '18.

TRADE SCENARIO
If a team like the Astros wants to add a power arm to its bullpen, the D-backs could be a match with Hudson. In whatever trades it makes before the Deadline, Arizona will look to acquire young players to build depth in its farm system.

WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
Pride, of course. The D-backs want to show that they are not as bad as they were in the first half, while building some positive momentum heading toward the offseason.

THE ROAD AHEAD
After playing the first five games of the second half against a pair of contenders -- the Dodgers and the Blue Jays -- the D-backs have seven games on the road against the Reds and Brewers, two teams that have also struggled. It could be an opportunity for Arizona to get a winning feel early in the second half.

KEY PLAYER
The D-backs had high expectations for Shelby Miller when they gave up a lot of talent to acquire him from the Braves last December, and he has struggled mightily. On Thursday, they optioned him to Triple-A Reno. With so much invested in him, Arizona will work feverishly to get him on track in the second half.

Miller whiffs Upton Jr.

PROSPECTS TO WATCH
With the trade of Ziegler and the possibility that Hudson could go as well, keep an eye on the D-backs' bullpen in the second half. Young pitchers like Enrique Burgos, Silvino Bracho, Jake Barrett and Evan Marshall could see some work late in games. It is an excellent opportunity for them to set themselves up for 2017.

D-backs turn two

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.