The Arizona Diamondbacks were supposed to be contenders next year, when their young players would be more seasoned and their top prospects ready for the big leagues.
The Diamondbacks accelerated the timeline, shaking up the baseball world with an extended postseason stay.
Arizona’s bid for a second World Series title was stopped by a 5-0 loss to the Texas Rangers in Game 5 on Wednesday night, but the NL pennant is certainly something the Diamondbacks can build upon.
Two years removed from losing 110 games, the Diamondbacks shook off a midseason swoon to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2017. They proceeded to take down Milwaukee, the Dodgers and Philadelphia on their way to their first World Series appearance since they won the 2001 championship.
The Rangers exposed Arizona’s weaknesses in the Fall Classic.
Arizona managed to overcome its lack of depth in its rotation through the first three rounds of the playoffs, but it cost them in the World Series.
Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly carried the heaviest loads, and Brandon Pfaadt was solid after being sent to the minors twice during his rookie season.
With no fourth starter, the Diamondbacks were forced into a bullpen night for Game 4 of the World Series a tactic that didn’t turn out well. The Rangers had a 10-0 lead after three innings and won 11-7 to take a a 3-1 Series lead.
Arizona’s bullpen, a strength down the stretch of the regular season, also faltered in a Game 1 loss, giving up Corey Seager’s two-run homer in the ninth inning and Adolis Garca’s walk-off homer in the 11th.
Gallen struggled early in the postseason, losing the form that put him in contention for the NL Cy Young Award. The right-hander regained it in Game 6, pitching six hitless innings before giving up a run on three hits.
Even that wasn’t enough as some of Arizona’s biggest bats during the regular season went quiet in the Fall Classic.
Christian Walker, Arizonas regular-season home run leader with 33, had a difficult postseason at the plate. He hit .217 with one homer and seven RBIs.
Corbin Carroll, the favorite for NL Rookie of the Year, went 5 for 23 in the World Series with no homers. Arizona had five hits and went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position in Game 5.
Second baseman Ketel Marte, on the other hand, had a huge playoff run. He had at least one hit in the first 16 games, giving him a record 20-game postseason hit streak to begin his career.
Marte struck out looking for the final out of Game 5, but he walked three times to extend his on-base streak to 21 games. That is tied with Daniel Murphys 21 games from 2015-17 for the second-longest such streak to begin a postseason career, trailing Boog Powells 25 games from 1966-71.
The Diamondbacks had one of baseball’s best defenses during the regular season, yet faltered at key moments in the World Series.
Walker mishandled a ball that led to a five-run third inning in Game 4 and center fielder Alek Thomas overran a ball in the ninth in Game 5, allowing a run to score in the four-run inning.
But for all that went wrong at the very end, the Diamondbacks are in a prime position for the long haul with a young core that now has the experience of making a deep playoff run.