PHOENIX – In 2021, the Diamondbacks have lost 110 games and it looks like a complete rebuild is in order. However, the organization decided to continue on the path designed and developed by general manager Mike Hazen and leader Torey Lovullo. The result is a playoff berth for the first time since 2017 on Saturday, with the Reds’ loss to the Cardinals coming in the middle of Arizona’s setback against Houston at Chase Field.
Starting Tuesday, the Diamondbacks will face either the Phillies or the Brewers, depending on their seeding, as the visiting team in a best-of-three Wild Card Series.
“I’m very proud of this group, the way they represent this organization and this state,” said Lovullo, who guided the Diamondbacks to 84 wins in 2023, good enough for the National League’s second or third wild card. , depending on their results and the Marlins on Sunday. “It’s sweeter every day when we finally get the chance to do it.”
In fact, Arizona is the third team to go from 110 losses to the playoffs in a three-season stretch, matching the Orioles this year and the Astros from 2013 to 2015.
The last time the Diamondbacks qualified, they won the Wild Card Game at home against the Rockies before being swept by the Dodgers in the Division Series. Since then, the entire roster of that group has left the team, except for Dominican Ketel Marte, Nick Ahmed and Christian Walker. The change with talent like Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly in pitching, including the Cuban Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the Venezuelan Gabriel Moreno, the Puerto Rican Geraldo Perdomo and, of course, the star rookie Corbin Carroll, bore fruit before many people. it is expected.
“A lot of people didn’t believe in us, but thank God, we kept working and doing the little things,” said Marte, who joined the Diamondbacks just for the 2017 season. “My first year here and It’s been a lot of fun. Actually, I’m really happy to be in the playoffs.
Aside from the talent that came in the draft (see Carroll) and the other youngsters that developed in the minor leagues, one of Hazen’s smartest moves was the winter trade of Dalton Varsho to the Blue Jays. for Gurriel and Venezuelan catcher Gabriel Moreno, one of the best defensive catchers in the Major Leagues in 2023.
“Happy, it’s a wonderful thing,” said Gurriel, Jr., who has contributed 24 home runs and 81 RBIs in the desert this year. “No one thought in Spring Training that we would be here. It means a lot. We know how to fight, from the bottom a lot of times.”
On an individual level, one figure who knows how to come off the bottom is Perdomo, who has had a trial by fire in 2022 hitting just .195/.285/.262. This year, he improved to .248/.356/.361 (.717 OPS), playing good defense at shortstop as Lovullo’s go-to guy at that position.
“The best emotion,” Perdomo said of qualifying. “There is no comparison to this. This is the best available. We must continue to fight; nothing else. We’re up.”
Now, the task is not easy, with Philadelphia or Milwaukee – two talented and polished teams – waiting for the arrival of the Diamondbacks. But the change has been notable since 2021, when no one would have thought this group would return to the postseason in this fashion.
“We have a drive that maybe no other team in the league has,” commented outfielder Tommy Pham, who gave the Arizona team a big boost by hitting six home runs in 50 games after desert yield from the Mets. “We have to use that to our advantage. “We’re a team with a lot of athletic ability and we need to play like that.”
Lovullo added: “We’re a good group. They deserve it. “We want to do something really good for this community.”