Arizona Diamondbacks: Biggest Surprises in the Early Going

Christopher AmickCorrespondent IMay 2, 2012

Arizona Diamondbacks: Biggest Surprises in the Early Going

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    The D-backs began 2012 as one of the hottest teams in baseball. They now are hovering around .500, and that is the most surprising aspect of their campaign so far.

    Arizona's hot start was promising, but after opening the season at 7-3, Arizona has cooled off while struggling to sustain any sort of consistency in the season's first month.

    A month is a small sample size when compared to the marathon that is the Major League Baseball season, but the D-backs have major work to do if they want to avoid falling further behind the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West.

    The offense seems to be coming around and they have won three straight, but Arizona needs to right the ship quickly.

.500 Baseball?

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    The Arizona Diamondbacks are not a team that should be sitting at .500.

    Arizona's pitching staff is loaded and the offense should be decent even without Chris Young, but some shaky bullpen work has left Arizona mired in mediocrity.

    The end of games are under control with David Hernandez and J.J. Putz rounding out the bullpen, but getting games to them has been a struggle.

    Getting hits with runners in scoring position has also been a battle this season, and the D-backs will have to correct this to avoid looking up the Dodgers when the playoffs arrive.

Joe Saunders Dealing

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    Joe Saunders had settled nicely into somewhat of a fifth starter role at this point in his career, but this season Saunders has been lights out.

    Maybe it's hot prospects like Trevor Bauer and Pat Corbin nipping on his heels, but the left-hander has been dealing in his four starts thus far.

    Saunders has an ERA under 1.00, and has a complete game shutout to his credit while helping to solidify the back end of the D'backs rotation.

    If Saunders can continue to pitch well, the Arizona rotation should be tough to beat.

Paul Goldschmidt's Hitting Woes

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    Paul Goldschmidt has had a ton of expectations heaped upon him since his dazzling debut last August, but 2012 has been disappointing for the lumbering first baseman.

    Goldschmidt burst on to the scene late last year, when he hit home runs off of both Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay during his debut week as a big leaguer.

    He finished 2012 with eight home runs while looking like the potential answer at first base for Arizona, but Goldschmidt has only hit one long ball this season.

    Fans shouldn't jump off the "Goldy" bandwagon just yet though, seeing how the hard-hitting righty is only 24 and has legitimate big league power.

Wade Miley's Almost No-No

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    Wade Miley has been a spot-starter for most of his tenure in Arizona, but was placed back into the rotation after an injury to Daniel Hudson.

    Miley has pitched remarkably well and even flirted with a no-hitter last weekend against Miami, when he held the Marlins hitless into the sixth inning.

    Miley pitched six innings, giving up only one unearned run while retiring the first 11 batters he faced.

    His other games have been solid too, and Miley is an example of just how deep the D-backs' rotation has become.

The Struggles of Justin Upton

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    The Diamondbacks were counting on Justin Upton to take the next step to superstar status in 2012, but an achy thumb has hampered the youngster thus far.

    Upton is swinging the bat better as of late and he collected two RBI and two stolen bases in a weekend victory over the Marlins.

    Upton is only hitting .257 and without Chris Young, he is being counted on to be the team's biggest threat in the middle of the order.

    Arizona desperately needs Upton to pick up the pace if they want to contend in the NL West when September rolls around.