Can the Diamondbacks make the playoffs with Corbin Carroll slumping?

Paul Goldschmidt entered play on May 23, 2018, with his batting average sitting at .198. He was whiffing on fastballs at an alarming rate. His hard-hit rate was down. At times, he looked entirely lost at the plate.

By the end of that season, Goldschmidt, then the Diamondbacks’ face of the franchise first baseman, had logged a .290 average and a .922 OPS. He hit 33 homers. He finished sixth in National League MVP balloting.

When star players get off to slow starts, baseball people often explain away those struggles in familiar fashion: He will be fine, they say, because he is too good not to figure it out.

For many, the same logic applies to the Diamondbacks’ newest face of the franchise, Corbin Carroll. Like Goldschmidt six years ago, Carroll entered May 23 with an average under .200 and the look of a player who does not always appear comfortable at the plate.

For a player who was so good as a rookie last year, who was so good throughout his (albeit brief) minor league career, the smart money is on him eventually getting his season back on track.

But his struggles, prolonged as they have been, beg a question: What if he doesn’t? What will become of the Diamondbacks’ season?

Can the Diamondbacks still be a good team — can they still be a playoff-caliber team — without elite production from Carroll?

Given how integral he was to their offense last year, the knee-jerk response is to say no. Carroll was the engine that drove the lineup. He got on-base and created havoc. He provided key hits and drove in runs. He was the hitter the Diamondbacks wanted at the plate with the game on the line.

But the Diamondbacks have other talented hitters capable of doing damage. Ketel Marte is off to an incredible start; he would warrant MVP consideration if the season were to end today. Christian Walker has been his usual self. Joc Pederson has torched right-handed pitching. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Eugenio Suarez have track records that suggest they could provide more.

But the most likely way forward in that scenario might be for the Diamondbacks to become a team less dependent on its offense to win. Right-handers Zac Gallen and Brandon Pfaadt have been reliable starters in the rotation. Left-hander Jordan Montgomery was one of the better starters in baseball last season. Left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez and right-hander Merrill Kelly are working their way back from injuries and could both part of the rotation in July.

If those five are together and throwing well, the Diamondbacks would have one of the more formidable rotations in baseball. The Seattle Mariners have showed over the past few years that a dominant pitching staff can help paper over offensive deficiencies.

Another reason for hope: the state of the National League. The Phillies, Dodgers and Braves look like dominant teams. Beyond that, the field appears wide open. Even if two teams from the NL Central reach the postseason, that would still leave one wild-card spot up for grabs, and at this point in time it does not look like it is going to take 90 wins to claim it.

In recent days, Carroll has been showing more signs of life. Just about every night over the past week or so, he has been putting one good swing on a ball each game. He says he is making progress with the swing changes he has been trying to implement over the past month. Both he and the Diamondbacks would love more consistency, but it is a sign of progress, a step in the right direction.

Perhaps it is a sign he is close to snapping out of things the way Goldschmidt did all those years ago. Carroll might not be as accomplished as Goldschmidt was then, but there is no denying his ability. So much so that, for many, the old adage applies: He is too good not to figure it out.

But if he doesn’t, there might still be a path forward for the Diamondbacks. They would just rather avoid that route if at all possible.

Friday’s Diamondbacks-Marlins pitching matchup

Marlins at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m., Cox, Ch. 34

Diamondbacks RHP Zac Gallen (5-3, 3.02) vs. Marlins LHP Braxton Garrett (0-0, 10.24).

At Chase Field: Gallen gave up three runs in 6 2/3 innings in his most recent start, watching a potential victory slip through his hands as the Tigers scored six runs in the seventh inning. … It was the third consecutive quality start Gallen has turned in and his fifth in nine outings this year. … Gallen, who began his big league career with the Marlins, has faced his former club three times before, posting a 1.35 ERA in 20 innings, with one walk and 19 strikeouts. … Garrett missed the start of the season due to a left shoulder injury, and his results in two starts back have not been good. Most recently, he gave up six runs in 4 1/3 innings to the Mets. … He has averaged 89-91 mph with his fastball. He also throws a slider, curveball, change-up and cutter. … He has faced the Diamondbacks twice in his career, posting a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings, walking two and striking out 11.

Coming up

Saturday: At Chase Field, 7:10 p.m., Diamondbacks LHP Jordan Montgomery (2-2, 4.98) vs. Marlins RHP Sixto Sanchez (0-2, 6.41).

Sunday: At Chase Field, 6:40 p.m., Diamondbacks TBA vs. Marlins LHP Ryan Weathers (2-4, 3.49).

Monday: Off.

Tuesday: At Texas, 5:05 p.m., Diamondbacks RHP Brandon Pfaadt (2-3, 4.05) vs. Rangers RHP Dane Dunning (3-3, 4.43).

What to know about the Miami Marlins

The Marlins were a surprise playoff team last year, winning 84 games to claim a wild-card spot. They were bounced from the postseason after just two games, but it felt like a step in the right direction for the organization. However, things got off to a disastrous start this year, and it is already being seen as another lost season in Miami. The Marlins went 6-24 in their first 30 games, and during the first week of May they traded 1B/2B Luis Arraez to the San Diego Padres in perhaps the earliest sell-side trades in recent baseball history. As one would expect, little has gone right for them this season. DH/OF Bryan De La Cruz has hit nine homers with a .755 OPS. CF Jazz Chisholm Jr., whom the Diamondbacks traded to the Marlins for RHP Zac Gallen five years ago, is hitting .254/.329/.429 with seven homers and nine steals. Their pitching has been wrecked by injuries. LHP Ryan Weathers has been their best starter. LHP Jesus Luzardo turned in a dazzling performance on Wednesday; he will miss the Diamondbacks this weekend. LHP Trevor Rogers and RHP Sixto Sanchez have struggled to post good results, as has LHP A.J. Puk, who was shifted back into a relief role after a rough four-start run in the rotation.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Corbin Carroll is off to a slow start and so are the Arizona DBacks