It's no secret that the Arizona Diamondbacks are in "win mode" after their acquisition of two top-of-the-rotation starting pitchers, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller.
In honor of the $206.5 million dollar man, Grienke — who will wear number 21 and is scheduled to start on Opening Day 2016 at 6:40 this evening — we offer up 21 reasons the team can win it all this year:
21. Number 21, of course
The Diamondbacks' most glaring need in the team's mediocre 2015 season was starting pitching. Signing Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million contract directly addresses that. Greinke posted an insanely low earned-run average of just 1.66 last year with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The defensive side of the Diamondbacks already is great; in 2015, advanced stats show D-backs fielders saved more runs than any other team in baseball. Not only did Paul Goldschmidt (above) win a Gold Glove award last year (his second such honor), the team's added another defensive winner — Greinke, who's won one the last two years.
19. Yasmany Tomas is due
The Cuban outfielder with the big contract underwhelmed in 2015, especially considering Tomas — known as a power hitter in Cuba — hit just nine home runs in his first season in Major League Baseball with the D-backs. The team's expecting vast improvement from Tomas at the plate and in the field this year.
18. Bolstered bullpen
Just not having Addison Reed as the team's closer is an improvement, but the team also went out and signed veteran reliever Tyler Clippard.
17. Middle-infield options
Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings made a great double-play combo in the field, but weren't the greatest at the plate. The team now actually has options at those two positions if they need them after acquiring Jean Segura and Phil Gosselin.
16. Shelby Miller hitting his potential
Arizona traded a lot to get starting pitcher Shelby Miller from the Atlanta Braves (ESPN went as far as to say the Diamondbacks were robbed), but a lot of baseball minds see a load of talent in Miller, even though he lost a league-high 17 games last year. He can be incredible at times — including two complete-game shutouts and eight games with eight-plus strikeouts last year — and could really help propel the team to the top.
15. Stay hot, Welington Castillo
Not much was expected of Castillo when he was acquired by the team last year in a trade with the Seattle Mariners — just two weeks after the Mariners traded for Castillo from the Chicago Cubs — but in just 80 games with the D-backs (the equivalent of about half a season), Castillo hit 17 homers and drove in 50 runs. If he can produce anywhere near those numbers over this season, the D-backs' offense ought to be in really good shape.
14. Rookies are ready
Sure, the front office has traded away some highly valued prospects recently, but there's no shortage of rookies who are actually close to making the show big time. These include Archie Bradley, who's still ranked as one of the top 100 prospects in baseball, as well as slugging outfielders Socrates Brito (pictured above) and Peter O'Brien.
13. Jake Lamb's predicted breakout season
MLB.com's writers think third baseman Jake Lamb (pictured second from the left) is the D-backs player most likely to have a breakout season. We think they're right.
12. The resurgence of Jean Segura
Middle infielder Jean Segura — acquired from Milwaukee in a trade that sent Aaron Hill to the Brewers — was on fire in spring training, hitting above .500. His production decreased since his All-Star year in 2013, but if his spring training numbers translate into regular-season hitting, he'll be a force to reckoned with.
11. Emergency options at starting pitcher
If — knock on wood — something were to happen to one of the D-backs' starting pitchers, it wouldn't spell a season-ending disaster. With a much-improved rotation, back-up options look good — Zack Godley won five games in six starts last year, Archie Bradley is still a top prospect, and Josh Collmenter (pictured) always is good for an emergency start.
10. The D-backs' offense is awesome
Despite some speculation about whether the team will have enough offensive production with A.J. Pollock probably out for the season with an elbow injury, the numbers prove the Diamondbacks (led by the All-Starr slugger above) still can produce hugely. They scored the second-most runs in the National League in 2015, and with rookie slugger Brandon Drury in the mix, they still should be hot on offense.
9. Talent in the rest of the rotation
The middle and end of the rotation isn't filled with scrubs, despite all the attention paid to Greinke and Miller (above). Patrick Corbin played just three years in the majors, and was an All Star in his second one. Rubby De La Rosa won a team-high 14 games last year as a starter. And Robbie Ray, who will be the number-five starter, actually had the lowest ERA of any D-backs starter in 2015.
8. Fan support
In the wake of the Greinke and Miller acquisitions, there hasn't been this much fan excitement about the team in quite some time. Common sense says landing perhaps the biggest free agent in baseball will put more fans in the seats. It helps immensely to have a packed ballpark cheering at home games. Tenth Man anyone?
7. A bold front office
This new front office, led by Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa and General Manager Dave Stewart, has made dozens of trades so far, including giving up some young talent and top draft picks to get major front-line talent now. This proves that LaRussa and Stewart aren't afraid to make bold moves in a bid to win it ASAP.
6. The Freight Train will keep rolling
David Peralta — who came from baseball's lowest professional level to the big leagues in just a couple years — has proven he's not a fluke, maintaining a Major League batting average of .301 over 237 games. Peralta, nicknamed "Freight Train" for his hard running around the bases, will continue to be a force on the team.
5. A.J. Pollock's absence won't hurt that much
There's no getting around the fact that losing injured Pollock (above) isn't good. He's a Gold Glove center fielder who hit .315 last season. But don't despair. The D-backs still are loaded with hitting talent: Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, Yasmany Tomas, Wellington Castillo, and let's hope that slugging rookie Brandon Drury becomes a second Goldy at the plate. Speculation is that slugger Socrates Brito replaces A.J. in the outfield down the line, with glove man Chris Owings getting the start tonight.
4. Tony La Russa's Midas touch
Tony La Russa posted a winning record during about 75 percent of his 33-year managerial career, winning league pennants six times and World Series championships three times. This year will demonstrate whether that Midas touch extends to front-office management. We're betting it does.
3. Daniel Hudson and Tyler Clippard as part of a closing team
Every team has a closer, but the World Series champion Kansas City Royals really had three — a trio who pitched the last three innings of ballgames. Seemingly taking a cue from the champs, the Diamondbacks have pitchers primed to do the same thing: Daniel Hudson (pictured), Tyler Clippard, and in the ninth inning, Brad Ziegler.
2. Games saved by Brad Ziegler
If you want to win the World Series, you have to win close games. And since the closer role was turned over to Ziegler last year, he successfully closed 30 games in 32 opportunities. The team won 28 straight times last season when he was on the mound at game's end.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
1. Paul Goldschmidt
Despite having played just four full seasons in the majors, Goldschmidt has been the runner-up for league MVP twice. Goldy is a superstar, and no other player gives his team a chance to win quite like he does.