D-backs happy with '22, eyeing more for '23

Kelly finishes with 200 1/3 IP as Arizona ends 74-win season with comeback victory

October 6th, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- With a come-from-behind 4-2 win over the Brewers on Wednesday afternoon at American Family Field, the D-backs finished the season with a 74-88 record, a vast improvement from the 52-110 debacle of 2021.

So in that respect, it was a successful season for Arizona, and there were plenty of smiles about it.

But beneath all that, there was also the realization that the D-backs have a ways to go to be where they want to be.

"It’s important to take that next jump from the 70s to the 80s to the 90s," general manager Mike Hazen said at the beginning of the season's final series. "That’s the bigger jump. It’s a much bigger jump from this year to next year. Reminding guys of that is extremely important. The work that goes into that starts on Thursday. It doesn’t start in January."

This season, the D-backs integrated a number of the prospects that they had been talking about the past several seasons onto the big league roster. Outfielders Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy all saw significant playing time, as did shortstop Geraldo Perdomo. Daulton Varsho, who completed his third MLB season, showed he could be a Gold Glove outfielder.

On the pitching side, starters Tommy Henry, Ryne Nelson and Drey Jameson got their first taste of the big leagues, with Brandon Pfaadt almost certainly on track to make his debut next year.

"I'm proud of what we accomplished," manager Torey Lovullo said. "We had 74 wins, but 74 wins is still a long way from where we've got to get to. I will certainly enjoy the strides we made and the small victories that we had inside of the development of some of our young players, how this team came together and created a culture. I will absolutely enjoy that.

"But we left some chips on the table, and we have to find a way to pull those chips back and rake them in."

The D-backs juggled the rotation a bit over the final 10 days of the season so that Merrill Kelly could pitch the final game of the year and have a chance to reach 200 innings for the season.

Kelly prides himself on pitching deep into games and giving his team a chance to win every time he takes the ball, so it was a mark he has coveted. The right-hander entered Wednesday's game needing 5 2/3 innings to reach 200, and after he got a strike-’em-out, throw-’em-out double play to end the sixth, he was at 200 1/3. That was when Lovullo turned things over to the bullpen.

"Definitely proud with how the whole year has gone just collectively," Kelly said. "I had a lot of cool text messages from friends and family, and it just kind of made it feel a little bit more real. Torey came over after the sixth and said, ‘I want to take you out here on 83 pitches.’"

For the first time this year, Kelly did not lobby to stay in longer. He was one of only eight pitchers this season to reach the 200-innings mark, joining the Marlins' Sandy Alcantara, the Phillies' Aaron Nola, the Cardinals' Miles Mikolas, the Brewers' Corbin Burnes, the Astros' Framber Valdez and the Yankees' Gerrit Cole.

"I think, 10 years ago, it wouldn't have been as cool, because there would have been a lot more guys that [did] it," Kelly said. "I think in the new era that we are in, with the way bullpens are run and pitch counts being such an emphasis, I think that's why you see not as many guys get there. So for me to be able to get there definitely means a lot."

Kelly left with the game tied at 1. And when Milwaukee got a go-ahead solo homer from Rowdy Tellez in the eighth, it looked like it might be another game that slipped away late for Arizona.

Instead, Josh Rojas hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the ninth, and Carroll immediately followed with a homer of his own, to send the D-backs into the offseason on a good (if not satisfied) note.