MLB: 2014 AZ DIAMONDBACKS PREVIEW PART 2
In Part 2 of this 3-part series, let’s look at the Diamondbacks’ Pitching Rotation:
Losing Patrick Corbin is a major setback for this team, but with a few other NL teams with pitchers hurt and out for the year, the other current Diamondback starters will have to step up and provide quality starts and keep this team in games.
The Diamondbacks pitchers allowed 176 home runs in 2013, the highest total in the National League. Pitching Coach Mike Harkey and Pitching Consultant Dave Duncan have been busy working with all the pitchers on changing that stat for 2014.
Two years ago it was Wade Miley who came out of nowhere and had a great season. Last year it was Patrick Corbin. Without Corbin the Diamondbacks will need someone to step-up again and have a great season.
The Diamondbacks feature four solid starters, but no true ace. Bronson Arroyo, Trevor Cahill, Wade Miley, and Brandon McCarthy. They can be anywhere from #2 to #4 caliber arms, depending on the season, but none have pitched like a true #1 for an extended period of time. All are coming off subpar years and need to be better than just average pitchers this season.
Bronson Arroyo will have to step up early and get used to pitching at Chase Field. Arroyo, who has been extremely durable and has avoided injuries, had a disc flare-up during Spring Training. Several reports say that he will be ready for the start of the season. Arroyo will need to get 15+ wins and have his usual 200+ innings this season.
Wade Miley’s ERA was almost as good in 2013 as it was in 2012, but people think he was much worse because he walked a lot more batters in 2013, and he had a terrible first half of the season. Miley watched film on his pitching mechanics, particularly his slider, which was missing its mark. He noted he was also falling behind the hitters in the count, forcing bad pitching decisions. Working with Mike Harkey we hope to see more ground ball outs for Miley as well. Miley, who is 27 and entering his third full major league season, is being projected as the ACE for the Diamondbacks. He is at the stage in his career where he should be showing his consistency.
Trevor Cahill is a decent ground ball pitcher, but the issue with Cahill is he allows everything else, including giving up early walks and runs. That leads to bad pitching choices and Cahill needs to get his pitching control back. He is only 26 and must avoid being put on the DL and get back to his form of 2010 when he won 18 games. The Diamondbacks will have to keep Cahill on the roster as he is signed until 2016.
Brandon McCarthy never got it together last year and went 5-11 with a 4.53 ERA. Durability, however, is still a concern as he has logged more than 135 innings only once in his career (2011). He will be watched closely and if he still struggles look for a change.
Randall Delgado was a starter most of 2013. For 2014 he was moved to the bullpen, but with the Corbin injury will be back as the #5 starter. His 2013 season started out a little rough but seemed to really improve down the stretch. There was even a span of a few weeks when he was consistently the best Diamondbacks starter behind Corbin. Could he turn out to be the come-out-of-nowhere pitcher for the Diamondbacks in 2014?
Waiting to get his shot as a starter will be Archie Bradley, who will start the season in the minors. Bradley had looked good in one spring training game but has struggled in other games he pitched. Look for an early season call-up if any of the Diamondbacks starters struggle.
For the starting staff to be successful they must give the offense a chance to get an early lead. If this team falls behind early in games it will be difficult for them to make a comeback. The starting pitching needs to get past 5 or 6 innings in order to keep the bullpen from wearing out.
The Diamondbacks bullpen was over-worked and was a below average unit in 2013. They will be counted on for a rebound in 2014. The relief group struggled last year, tying for the major league-high with 29 blown saves and giving up a major-league worst 59 home runs. The addition of Addison Reed should help. He converted 69 saves with the White Sox the last two years. J.J. Putz and Brad Ziegler, both of whom closed in 2013, will serve as setup men. Ziegler is a special weapon as he has induced 29 groundball double plays in his two full seasons in Arizona. Free-agent signee Oliver Perez will be the top left-handed option and we will have to see what that means for Joe Thatcher. With David Hernandez out we need to see if Will Harris will step up. He has 2 pitches, a four-seam fastball in the low 90s and a curveball in the upper 70s. Josh Collmenter will be used as a spot starter and long relief pitcher like he did last year.
Only time will tell who becomes the stand-out pitcher or pitchers for this team in 2014.