First off, welcome back to MikesPickz. It has been one month since the last post, and well, that is one month too long. I will be posting far more frequently on this site now that certain other obligations I had are settling down. Welcome back and happy reading! -Mike
The Arizona Diamondbacks have won their ninth consecutive game, their longest streak since 2003. It is actually quite surprising to see the Diamondbacks sitting in first place by six (6) games as September 1st approaches. Surprising for a number of reasons, most notably is the fact that they are in the same division as the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants. Not to mention that last season they finished in dead last, a full 27 games behind the Giants and 15 games behind the closest competitor.
The Diamondbacks didn’t overhaul the roster this off-season. They made some solid acquisitions (J.J. Putz – to solidify the back of the bullpen), but most importantly they clearly show what a good manager can do. The D-Backs hired Kirk Gibson this off-season and he has already locked up the Manager of the Year award. It is remarkable how well he has this team playing. Justin Upton has returned to his 2009 form, and he is living up to his natural ability.
Ian Kennedy is finally pitching how the New York Yankees expected him to pitch for years. Micah Owings had adapted into a solid reliever after a disappointing transitional year with the Cincinnati Reds last season.
Things are gelling for the Diamondbacks at the right time, and now they head into a three game weekend series against the Giants, that could all but seal the division title (and eliminate the Giants from even making the playoffs). August has been an eventful month for the D-Backs, they won 7-in-a-row, then lost 6-in-a-row and now have a nine game winning streak. Although it is hard not to feel good about the turn around from a .402 winning percentage team to a .569 club in one year, you have to wonder if it can last?
I, unfortunately, do not see the Diamondbacks making a deep run in the playoffs. I don’t think they match-up well with either the Phillies or the Braves, and even their recent streaks support this. During the 6-game losing streak, two losses were against the Phillies and three against the Braves. When you look at the Diamondbacks roster, you don’t see that sure thing number one starter that the other contenders have. Ian Kennedy has been great, but lasting 3 innings against the Phillies earlier this month, isn’t going to win you a playoff series.
The Diamondbacks are a young team, and this season has been a great turnaround year, but they won’t be celebrating the tenth anniversary of their first and only World Series Championship with another.
Conclusion: Fun Pretender
[Photo Credit: AssociatedPress via liveoddsandscores.com]