Playoffs again? Predictions for the Arizona Diamondbacks' 2018 season

The Arizona Diamondbacks were one of the biggest surprises of Major League Baseball last season, as they won 93 regular-season games and earned a trip to the playoffs in Torey Lovullo's first season as manager.

Will the D-backs repeat that success in 2018 and earn a playoff spot in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2001-02? Here are some predictions from the ABC15 sports team heading into Thursday night's season opener.

ABC15 sports director Craig Fouhy

I do believe in the team’s leadership. General manager Mike Hazen and his staff have added to the bullpen this off-season and they brought in Stephen Souza and Jarrod Dyson to fill the void after the loss of J.D. Martinez.

The team’s starting rotation should win their share of games, but can Robbie Ray, Zack Godley and Taijuan Walker all improve on last year’s success? The D-backs scored 812 runs in 2017, and I still believe there’s enough firepower to score a lot of runs -- just not as many without J.D. in the lineup.

The NL West is extremely talented (Dodgers), and it’s going to be tough to even make the playoffs in 2018.

Prediction: 86-76, Wild Card berth

ABC15 sports anchor Jason Snavely

While J.D. Martinez will be missed, the core of the Diamondbacks’ 2017 squad will be back for another run at the postseason in 2018. They lost Martinez but replaced some of that offensive pop by acquiring Steven Souza, who will play the same position as Martinez and wear the same jersey number, 28. He’ll likely fall short of Martinez’s ridiculous second half numbers in 2017, but Souza had some power of his own with 30 home runs and 78 RBI last season. With Souza joining the likes of Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and Jake Lamb, the Diamondbacks should once again have one of the better offenses in the league.

I’m not sure the stars will align for the D-backs’ starting rotation as much as they did in 2017, but even with a drop-off in production, the offense should produce enough run support to rack up some wins. This is a team that will once again finish toward the top of the NL West, earning themselves a spot in the 2018 postseason by way of a Wild Card.

Prediction: 86-76, Wild Card berth

ABC15.com sportswriter Shane Dale

It’s easy to forget that the Diamondbacks were on track to make the playoffs last year before they added slugger J.D. Martinez at the trade deadline. Yes, his production will be missed, but the D-backs still figure to be among the best overall hitting teams in the National League. The bullpen should also be better with the additions of Yoshihisa Hirano and new closer Brad Boxberger.

My concern heading into the season is the starting rotation. It was a fantastic collective unit last season, and all five starters are back this year. But three of those pitchers — Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley — all had career seasons in 2017, and the odds of all three men turning in a repeat performance seems slim. For that reason, I just don’t trust the D-backs earning a return trip to the postseason.

Prediction: 83-79, out of playoffs

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