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Diamondbacks Projected Opening Day Positional Lineup – Sports Illustrated

The Diamondbacks will open their 2023 season in Los Angeles against the Dodgers.  The opening day starter for the Dodgers will likely be a lefty, either future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw, or 2022 Cy Young third place finisher Julio Urias.

Obviously spring training injuries could happen and change all of this. But with that caveat aside, this is how the opening day positional lineup looks at the moment.

Diamondbacks Opening Day Positional Player Lineup

Diamondbacks Projected Opening Day Lineup

Points of note:

Pitching: Zac Gallen will likely be the opening day starter of course.  I’ve made no attempt to sort out the bullpen  or the rest of the rotation after Gallen, Merrill Kelly, and Madison Bumgarner.  Mike Hazen probably has at least one or two more moves to make, and those are likely to be on the pitching side of things.  Hazen said there would be a spring competition for closer as well.  Unless he signs a clear cut closer, then bullpen roles will not be settled until at least mid or perhaps even late spring training.

Facing Right Vs. Left:  The D-backs will face left handed starters in roughly 50-55 games, and right handed starters in about 107-112 games. 

Catching:  Carson Kelly is the “starter” but the likely split of playing time between him and Gabriel Moreno is probably going to something like 60/40 to start the season.  Hazen used the term “runway” to describe Moreno’s ramp up into more starts.  I expect that to be gradual.

First Base: Christian Walker will play every day, with only the occasional day off or start at DH to get him off his feet.  Most of those days off will come against right handers with Pavin Smith getting starts at first on those days. 

Second Base: Ketel Marte will play second base, and occasionally DH if healthy and he’s able to avoid the hamstring injuries that have plagued him the last two seasons. 

Third base: Longoria will start at third against almost all left hand starters for as long as he is healthy.  He will likely get some DH starts against lefties as well.  Josh Rojas will get most of his starts against righties and playing at third base. The big question here is will it be a straight platoon with Rojas getting the lions share of the 100+ starts against righties, or will those be split more evenly with Longoria? 

Shortstop: Nick Ahmed will be the starter if healthy,  but expect Torey Lovullo to rest him liberally to keep him from wearing down.  Geraldo Perdomo will back up Ahmed, and get occasional starts at third and second as needed,  and also serve as a late inning defensive replacement. 

Outfield/DH: For opening day,  I project all three of McCarthy, Thomas, and Carroll are likely to be in the lineup despite the lefty Kershaw being on the mound,  with Gurriel at DH.  Gurriel will play Left Field when not DH’ing as the other three outfielders take turns taking days off as the weeks go by.

Pavin Smith will get most of his at bats as a DH against right handed starters and be the main left handed pinch hitter off the bench. 

Players in Reno

The biggest loser of MLB playing time with the signing of Longoria is Emmanuel Rivera. The team clearly does not feel confident in proceeding with him even as the short half of a platoon with Josh Rojas. But given Longoria’s health history it seems likely Rivera will get another shot.

Kyle Lewis was just acquired this past November for Cooper Hummel, but with the trade for Gurriel  he also seems  destined to start the season in Reno.  It is possible however that the team would not want to face the specter of having an all left handed outfield against left handers  too frequently.  So they could also start Alek Thomas in Reno where he ended the 2022 season, and put Lewis on the roster to DH against left handed starters.  That would put the defensively challenged Gurriel in left field quite a bit and leave the team without a legitimate 4th outfielder, late inning replacement, (other than Smith).  So this area remains the biggest conundrum for Lovullo. 

Recently acquired utility infielder Diego Castillo is also likely to be system depth starting out in Reno. By mid season we could very well see Blaze Alexander getting some reps on the major league infield as well. Jordan Lawlar is not expected to be up until late August after he is no longer in danger of losing rookie status for 2024.

Dominic Fletcher, Dominic Canzone, and eventually Jorge Barossa are additional depth outfielders that could eventually see some outfield time by the end of the year. 

Jose Herrera, who was a rookie last year but didn’t hit enough to stay on the 26 man roster, is still on the 40 man roster and is currently first man up if there is an injury to either Kelly or Moreno. 

Seth Beer is the forgotten man at the moment, but still has a 40 man roster spot as of today. 

This is how things line up at the moment, pending any further changes of course. 

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