After a mid-week sweep of the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants' five losses over their last six games, the Arizona Diamondbacks find themselves just 2.5 games out of first place in the NL West, which has seen its share of streaks and slumps throughout the 2012 season.
Streak? It's Arizona's turn now.
Last year, it was all about rookie sensation Paul Goldschmidt—from his 115 OPS+ (which is 134 this year) to eight key home runs and 26 RBI following his early August MLB debut. Goldy was clearly the minor league surprise D-Backs fans were looking for to help guide the club to the postseason.
This year, with a bevy of prospects waiting for a shot at the show, who will get the call come September? Who will have a chance to be this year's Paul Goldschmidt?
Barely weeks removed from top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer's demotion to Triple-A Reno after just four MLB starts, for many phlegmatic fans, it may look like the beginning of the end for the young hurler.
Yet while Bauer did not impress with his 6.06 ERA, 1.65 WHIP and 72 ERA+ in just 16.1 innings of Major League work, fair weather fans would be wise to recall another young ace who struggled with his first taste of MLB action.
When he debuted at the ripe age of 20 in 2008, rookie southpaw Clayton Kershaw posted a 4.26 ERA, a WHIP near 1.5 and one strikeout for every two walks. Fast forward to 2011, and Kershaw had a career year—21 wins, a 2.28 ERA (161 ERA+), 0.98 WHIP and a Cy Young Award to boot.
Yes, Bauer will be fine and there is a great chance we'll see him again this year.
La Salle-Peru Cavaliers coach Bill Booker was hardly the first person to mutter the phrase, "pitching is everything" and he certainly won't be the last.
The D-Backs seem to have subscribed to this philosophy with Tyler Skaggs waiting right behind Bauer for his big league call.
Skaggs was promoted to Reno just this season, but he has already settled into a groove with a 2.08 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with just 34.2 innings under his belt. Skaggs has not recorded a lower ERA since posting a 1.69 with the Single-A South Bend Silver Hawks.
Outfielder A.J. Pollock did not exactly sizzle during his first stint with the MLB club from April 18 through June 6, yet he continues to excel at the minor league level, putting together a .344/.446/.833 line with Triple-A Reno since being sent down two months ago.
After serving valiantly in the wake of Geoff Blum's injury in April, Pollock may be back later rather than sooner due to the Arizona's outfield: Kubel, Young, Upton, and Parra. Although, the Diamondbacks will have a tough time passing on the youngster come September and the month of the expanded roster.
After plucking Chris Johnson prior to the trade deadline, Johnson welcomed himself to the club by blasting a grand slam off Dodgers pitcher Aaron Harang in the third baseman's D-Backs debut.
After Wheeler, however, the D-Backs hot corner well runs dry.
Enter Matt Davidson, who has put together a respectable .850 OPS in Double-A Mobile this season with 19 home runs and 57 RBI in 385 at bats.
If there is ever a need for an extra backup on the field, third base is it, and Davidson is Arizona's guy.
From Stephen Drew to Willie Bloomquist, Aaron Hill and that John McDonald character, prospect and middle infielder Chris Owings might not find himself a Major Leaguer all that soon, especially with a sub-par .300 batting average in Double-A Mobile this year, suggesting that a bit more minor league peppering is in order.
Still, the Diamondbacks are a team that—cross your fingers—are relatively healthy and must still consider a contingency plan for the shortstop and second base positions, just in case.
Paul Goldschmidt was plucked from Double-A ball in 2011 after 103 games at that level and a monster one-plus OPS. With 37 games under his belt, looks like Owings will have some serious catching up to do if he wants to make it out to Chase Field this year.
Outfielder Cole Gillespie is at a very crucial junction in his career.
After playing 45 games with the big league D-Backs in 2010 in which he recorded a .231 batting average and OPS+ of just 70, Gillespie's MLB workload dropped to just five contests during garbage time—also known as games 158 through 162 after the team clinched the NL West championship in game 157—during which he hit two-for-six with one home run and four RBI.
Gillespie has been a Reno regular since 2009 (when he was traded from Nashville), though in 2012, he has already recorded his best batting average (.305) since reaching the Triple-A level. With 11 home runs in 102 games in the PCL, Gillespie is just one dinger shy of matching his Triple-A career high of 12, which was set over the course of 137 games last season.
If Gillespie keeps this positive trend going, he will once again find himself on the MLB squad come September 1.