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3 Spring Training predictions for D-backs

@SteveGilbertMLB
February 15, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pitchers and catchers have just days of workouts under their belts, but it’s never too early to look into the future. So here are three predictions for the D-backs in Spring Training:

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pitchers and catchers have just days of workouts under their belts, but it’s never too early to look into the future. So here are three predictions for the D-backs in Spring Training:

1. There will be talk of competition, but Zac Gallen will be in the season-opening rotation

The D-backs like to emphasize competition, and they have more starting pitchers than spots in the rotation.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said some pitchers are written into the rotation in pen and some in pencil. Who is in pen, or even how many are in pen, he would not say.

Whether Zac Gallen is in ink or pencil now, the prediction is the 24-year-old right-hander will be in the rotation come Opening Day.

Acquired from the Marlins at last year’s Trade Deadline, Gallen posted a 2.89 ERA in eight starts with the D-backs and at times was dominant. He held the Phillies to one hit over five innings in his Arizona debut and allowed just one hit to the Padres over seven innings at the beginning of September.

2. Jake is going to rake
It has been a frustrating two seasons for third baseman Jake Lamb. Injuries to his shoulder and quadriceps caused him to miss significant time in both 2018 and ’19.

Maybe even more important, the injuries prevented him from following his usual offseason routine.

Lamb has declined to use any of that as an excuse, but it’s clear something has impacted his swing. After posting an OPS+ of 114 in 2016 and 112 in ’17, Lamb slumped to 74 and 76 the past two seasons.

As a result, he lost his starting job at third and had to switch to first base to get more playing time last year.

Lamb, 29, began hitting the ball harder in the final weeks of last season. After a healthy offseason, he should be able to reclaim his previous form and force his way back into the lineup on a regular basis.

3. Carson Kelly will take another step forward
After a slow start at the plate last year, Carson Kelly found his groove. The D-backs were so impressed they went away from their three-catcher alignment in order to get him more playing time.

Kelly slumped badly the final two months of the season at the plate, likely the result of fatigue.

It was Kelly’s first full year in the big leagues, which probably took its toll physically. With all the game-planning responsibility the team gives its catchers, there was likely some mental fatigue, as well.

Now that Kelly knows what to expect and has a year of experience under his belt, look for the 25-year-old to be able to put together a solid year both at and behind the plate.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.