Things rarely work out exactly as you planned, especially in baseball. The Arizona Diamondbacks are learning that the hard way in 2016. The team spent most of the offseason trying to build a top-notch starting rotation that would complement what was one of the most potent offenses in baseball last season. However, that rotation has not performed as expected this season, and instead of leading the team, it has become Arizona’s biggest weakness. It’s the main reason why they are 10 games out of first place in the NL West roughly one third of the way through the season.
It all starts with Zack Greinke, the $208 million man. Despite showing some signs of life in recent starts, Greinke has been one of the most disappointing pitchers in baseball this season. He’s on pace to have the highest ERA he’s had in a decade and is coming nowhere close to earning his $31 million salary for 2016. He has managed to win seven of his 12 starts, but he has not made things easy for Arizona’s offense. The Diamondbacks’ hitters have carried him instead of the other way around.
Of course, Shelby Miller may be even more disappointing than Greinke. The Diamondbacks gave up a virtual fortune in prospects to acquire Miller during the offseason, but he has failed to deliver. Before going on the DL in late May, Miller made 10 starts, going 1-6 with a 7.09 ERA. To be fair, he may have been pitching with an injury, but his performance this year has been nothing short of disastrous. His failure to be effective has played a big role in Arizona’s struggles.
Last but not least there is Patrick Corbin. The Diamondbacks had high hopes for Corbin for his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. He pitched well after returning late in 2015, but he has taken a step backwards during the early part of the season. Arizona hoped he could be a left-handed complement to Greinke and Miller atop the rotation, but Corbin is just 3-5 in 12 starts, posting a 4.73 ERA. Corbin has lacked consistency from start to start this season and has not come close to matching the form he had prior to the surgery in 2013.
Heading into the season, Arizona was expecting Greinke, Miller and Corbin to act like three aces at the top of their rotation. The Diamondbacks thought having those three would give them one of the top rotations in the National League, one capable of catapulting them to the top of the NL West. However, those three so-called aces have not only underperformed, but they can also be considered Arizona’s biggest weakness so far in 2016.