All-Star pitcher Patrick Corbin was one of the bright spots during the first half for the first-place Diamondbacks. He is 11-1 with a 2.35 ERA, and the team has won 17 of his 19 starts. Cy Young talk can't be far off.


PHOENIX - He probably did not mean for it to come out or sound the way it did, but Kirk Gibson seemed almost apologetic when describing how the Diamondbacks played in the first half of the season.

"It was good," he said. "Hey, we're in it. We've had to endure a lot. I think we've actually held up to it pretty good. We always seem to bounce back.

"Everybody wants to win more games, but you can't be discouraged by where we are. The problem is, when you have such high expectations for yourself you can get disappointed, and we can't do that."

Considering the Diamondbacks hold a 2 1/2-game lead over the second-place Dodgers in the National League West, you'd think Gibson would be a little more chipper. But Gibson is a realist. He knows his club has overachieved at times this season. He also knows it can play better and be more consistent.

Before the Diamondbacks return to action Friday, let's look back and examine some of the positives and negatives from the team's 50-45 start.

Three up

1. A feisty bunch. One of the Diamondbacks' more-recognizable traits has been their ability to stay in games and usually make things interesting, whether they are scratching out comeback wins (27) or clawing their way through extra-inning games - winning 10 of the 14 they have played.

2. Getting defensive. Though they have slogged through their share of sloppy games the past month or so, the Diamondbacks' .989 fielding percentage ranks first in the National League and third overall in the majors.

3. Follow my lead. If it weren't for the efforts of Paul Goldschmidt and fellow All-Star Patrick Corbin, the Diamondbacks wouldn't be sitting atop the division and gunning for their sixth NL West title in 16 years.

Goldschmidt carried the club offensively and entered the break leading all National League hitters with 77 RBIs, ranking fourth with 21 home runs and ninth with a .313 batting average. He's emerged as a legitimate MVP candidate.

Corbin could find himself in the running for the Cy Young Award after a fantastic start that includes an 11-1 record and a 2.35 ERA, which ranks third in the league. Arizona has won 17 of his 19 starts.

Three down

1. In need of relief. One of the club's more-troubling concerns has been the wild inconsistency out of the bullpen.

But the Diamondbacks' 19 blown saves leads the majors, and although they won their share of those games, the struggles at the back end of the bullpen can't continue if they hope to reach the postseason.

2. Rotation issues. It wasn't that long ago when the team suffered through a stretch of 24 games in which it failed to get a win by a starting pitcher.

After Corbin, the rotation has been spotty and unreliable.

3. Waiting to exhale. The Diamondbacks' run production was not horrible in the first half - they ranked fifth in the NL with 399 runs - but it could have been far better had the team received more from players such as catcher Miguel Montero, left fielder Jason Kubel and third baseman Martin Prado.

Those three entered the break hitting .224, .242 and .253.