Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 Season Preview
*From Protect the Plate
At 82-80, the Diamondbacks posted their second straight winning season, but eventually fell just two games shy of defending their National League West title.
Arizona got off to a 20-8 start, but fell to 47-48 by the All-Star break. The Dodgers, thanks in large part to Manny Ramirez, eventually caught the D-Backs, but that doesn't mean it was a lost season in the Arizona.
PAIR OF ACES...
Brandon Webb and Dan Haren combined for a record-tying 47 quality starts last season.
Webb, who finished second to San Francisco's Tim Lincecum in Cy Young voting, led the National League with 22 wins and ranked 10th with a 3.30 ERA. He has started at least 33 games and pitched at least 208 innings in each of the last five seasons.
Haren added an impressive 16 wins and a career-high 206 strikeouts in his first season in the National League. Haren has a nearly as impressive streak of consistency, starting 33 or more games and pitching at least 216 innings in four straight seasons.
... AND MAYBE A THIRD
Max Scherzer may start the year on the disabled list, but the Diamondbacks have big expectations for the 24-year-old.
In his debut, the former No. 11 overall pick threw 4.1 perfect innings in relief, striking out seven batters and reaching 98 mph on the radar guns. He finished the season with a 3.05 ERA and 66 strikeouts in 56 innings pitched.
While there are many question marks surrounding Scherzer, his nickname might as well be "Stuff" because that's all anyone ever talks about when this guy's name comes up.
QUALLS TO CLOSE
After five seasons spent primarily as a setup man, Chad Qualls will start the season as Arizona's closer. He did pick up nine saves after taking over for the injured and since departed Brandon Lyon, but has just 15 career saves.
If Qualls can't handle the role, Tony Pena and Jon Rauch are waiting in the wings.
After an awful first full season in the bigs, shortstop Stephen Drew showed why the D-Backs took him with the 15th pick in the 2004 draft.
Drew ranked 11th in the majors with 76 extra-base hits (44 doubles, 11 triples, and 21 homers) to go with a .291 average, 67 RBI, and 91 runs. He hit .326 with a .927 OPS after the All-Star break, making the 26-year-old a strong contender for a breakthrough season in 2009.
BYRNES TO THE BENCH
In 2006, Eric Byrnes hit 21 homers, stole 50 bases, and became the face of the Diamondbacks lineup. Hamstring injuries limited him to 52 games last year, and his average dropped from .286 to .209.
With Conor Jackson in left, Chris Young in center, and Justin Upton in right, Byrnes is a man without a position. Even if everyone stays healthy, expect Byrnes to see plenty of at bats, as Jackson will fill in for Chad Tracy at first from time to time and Chris Young (.218 road average) and Justin Upton (.169) struggle away from Chase Field.
New acquisition Felipe Lopez hit .385 in 43 games with St. Louis to close 2008.
Mark Reynolds led the team with 28 homers and 97 RBI, but also led the majors in strikeouts and errors.
Doug Davis has 10 or more wins in four-straight seasons.
Chad Tracy will be back at first base after back-to-back injury-plagued seasons.
Catcher Chris Snyder committed zero errors and threw out 31 percent of base stealers while slugging 16 homers in 2008.
Yusmeiro Petit, Billy Buckner, and Travis Blackley will all be fighting for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.
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