MLB bold predictions: Pitching will push the Diamondbacks and Rays to surprise runs in the 2017 season.
Last year, Tampa Bay lost 94 games, its highest total since 2007. However, with Chris Archer and Jake Odorizzi at the front of the rotation, full seasons from Blake Snell (who didn't come up for good until mid-June) and Alex Cobb (back from 2015 Tommy John surgery) and the eventual arrival of Jose De Leon (whose service clock is being gamed to avoid future Super Two status, as Snell's was last year), the Rays have a staff that could be on par with that of any division rival.
Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks have Zack Greinke coming back from an uncharacteristically high 4.37 ERA and well-regarded options like Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin, Shelby Miller, Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley. Add in new arrival Taijuan Walker, who enjoyed a strong spring after December surgery to remove 10 bone spurs in his right foot, and this bunch—which to start the year will likely have Bradley in the bullpen and Shipley back at Triple A—is too talented to struggle the way last year's 93-loss club did. Aided by the return of Gold Glove centerfielder A.J. Pollock and the move from a poor pitch framer (Welington Castillo) to a good one, at least part-time (Jeff Mathis), Arizona should be much better at preventing runs than it was in 2016.