With Opening Day nearly a month away it's never too early to take a look at the upcoming schedule.
The Cincinnati Reds will face off against the Arizona Diamondbacks seven times this year with three in Arizona from June 21-23 and four at home from Aug. 19-22. Last year the Reds split the four game home series and swept the three-game series in Arizona.
The D-Backs are coming off a disappointing 2012 campaign after making the playoffs in 2011. Arizona finished with an 81-81 record and finished third in the NL West behind the Dodgers and eventual World Series Champion Giants.
Manager Kirk Gibson begins his third full season with the team and has posted a winning record since 2010 going 209-198. He'll be managing a new crop of talent this year as outfielders Justin Upton (Atlanta) and Chris Young (Oakland) have been shipped elsewhere.
Arizona will also be showcasing a plethora of young arms in Wade Miley, Tyler Skaggs, and Patrick Corbin. Miley was a candidate for NL Rookie of the Year with a 16-11 record and a 3.33 ERA while Corbin (6-8) and Skaggs (1-3) look to take advantage of an open spot in the rotation with starter Daniel Hudson expected to be out until August.
New Additions: Martin Prado (Atlanta), Cody Ross (Boston), Eric Chavez (New York), Tony Sipp (Cleveland), Eric Hinske (Atlanta), Didi Gregorius (Cincinnati), Cliff Pennington (Oakland), Brandon McCarthy (Oakland)
Key Departures: Justin Upton (Atlanta), Chris Young (Oakland), Trevor Bauer (Cleveland)
Here's what the Diamondbacks could look like when they face the Reds:
Rotation (2012 stats)
1. Ian Kennedy (15-12, 4.02 ERA, 187 strikeouts) looks to return to 2011 form when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA.
2. Brandon McCarthy (8-6, 3.24 ERA, 73 Ks w/Oakland) had a nice year for the A's despite taking a line drive to the head resulting in fractured skull. Currently MLB is testing padded caps to protect pitchers from similar injuries.
3. Trevor Cahill (13-12, 3.78 ERA, 156 Ks) lowered his ERA and increased his strikeouts. He'll rely on the infield to make plays as he recorded 62.5 percent of his outs via the ground ball which was the most by any pitcher.
4. Wade Miley (16-11, 3.33, 144 Ks) will look to avoid a sophomore slump after a breakout year.
5. Patrick Corbin/Tyler Skaggs/Randall Delgado: These three will have a chance to crack the rotation after as Hudson remains sidelined after having Tommy John Surgery last season. Corbin started 17 games and provides a left handed arm, while Skaggs is also a lefty who is considered one of the top prospects in baseball. Delgado posted a 4-9 record in 17 starts with Atlanta last season.
Matt Reynolds (3-1, 4.40 ERA, 51 Ks w/Colorado) has appeared in over 70 games for the Rockies and provides a left-handed option in the bullpen.
Josh Collmenter (5-3, 3.69 ERA, 80 Ks) went from starter and an ERA over five to reliever where he sported a 1.32 ERA.
Tony Sipp (1-2, 4.42 ERA, 51 Ks, 1 save w/Cleveland) provides another lefty option and made 63 appearances for the Tribe and had 12 holds.
Heath Bell (4-5, 5.09 ERA, 59 Ks, 19 saves w/Miami) went from All-Star in San Diego to overpaid reliever in Miami where he blew eight saves including three in the first month and was stripped of his of job as closer. Bell came over in a trade that sent Young to Oakland and a minor leaguer to Miami.
Brad Ziegler (6-1, 2.49 ERA, 42 Ks) is the Diamondbacks side-arm throwing righty specialist who appeared in 77 games.
David Hernandez (2-3, 2.50 ERA,98 Ks, 4 saves) was a reliable set up man for Arizona last year with a 1.02 WHIP and 25 holds in 72 appearances.
J.J. Putz (1-5, 2.82 ERA, 65 Ks, 32 saves) will be the closer for a majority of the chances, but at 36, he might not be serviceable in consecutive outings allowing Bell or Hernandez a chance to close.
C. Miguel Montero (141 games, .286 avg, 15 HR, 88 RBI) provides a veteran presence behind the plate and provides some pop hitting at least 15 homers in three of the last four seasons.
1B. Paul Goldschmidt (145 games, .286 avg, 20 HR, 82 RBI) showed promise in his first full big league season and even swiped 18 bases.
2B. Aaron Hill (156 games, .302 avg, 26 HR, 85 RBI) provided a solid bat to the Arizona lineup and appeared in over 150 games for the first time since 2009.
3B. Martin Prado (156 games, .301 avg, 10 HR, 70 RBI w/Atlanta) provides another quality bat and the ability to play anywhere on the field. Last season he played five different positions for the Braves with a majority coming in left field. He was acquired in a trade for Upton.
SS. Cliff Pennington (125 games, .215 avg, 6 HR, 28 RBI w/Oakland) had a rough year at the plate last season, but did wrangle his errors from 25 in 2010 and 22 in 2011 to just 11 in 2012.
LF. Jason Kubel (141 games, .253 avg, 30 HR, 90 RBI) had an up and down year in his first season in the NL. Kubel set career highs in homers, runs scored (75), and walks (57), but also set a career mark in strikeouts (151) and saw his batting average drop 20 points.
CF. Adam Eaton (22 games, .259 avg, 2 HR, 5 RBI) will be responsible for taking over a spot Young patrolled for the last six seasons. He got off to a quick start with seven extra base hits including two homers and is considered one the organizations top prospects after garnering PCL Rookie of the Year and MVP.
RF. Cody Ross (130 games, .267 avg, 22 HR, 81 RBI w/Boston) comes over from Boston to replace Upton who patrolled right field the past five seasons. Ross missed a month of playing time with a broken foot last year.
C. Wil Nieves split time with Colorado and Arizona last year and will provide another veteran presence behind the plate.
1B/3B/OF. Eric Hinske has seen his average taper off the past two seasons, but still managed to appear in 91 games and 132 at bats with Atlanta.
IF. Willie Bloomquist brings a veteran mindset and a versatile set of skills in the field. He also set a career high with a .302 average and 21 doubles in 2012.
IF. John McDonald provides a quality glove for Arizona as well as 14 years experience.
SS. Didi Gregorius comes over from Cincinnati in the Shin-Soo Choo trade that sent Bauer to Cleveland.
1B/3B. Eric Chavez saw a resurgence with the Yankees appearing in over 100 games for the first time since 2006 thanks to an injury to Alex Rodriguez. Chavez will play a smaller role in Arizona after the acquisition of Prado.
OF. Gerardo Parra appeared in 133 games for Arizona and will likely be the beneficiary of any time off for the anyone in the outfield or if Eaton struggles early on.
OF. A.J. Pollock is another talented rookie outfielder that could see time if any problems arise in the outfield.
OF. Tony Campana just came over in a trade with the Cubs and if he makes the team will provide a speedy option as he has stolen 54 bases in 184 games.