MLB: 2ND Half Pitching for the AZ Diamondbacks
In my last article I wrote that the Diamondbacks coaches and front-office have an immediate task for the second half of the season; that is to evaluate the players on their roster for possible movement. This article I will take a look at the starting pitching staff to see what the front office might be considering.
The first question will be the long term health of Bronson Arroyo and how that will shape their entire starting rotation after the All Star break. Arroyo has been their best pitcher, when healthy. He has been on the DL since June 15 with a sprained UCL. While a sprained UCL is much less concerning than a strain or a tear, it will still be some time before the Diamondbacks will know if he needs Tommy John surgery. If he doesn’t return, let’s take a look at a few guys the Diamondbacks will need to call on.
Let’s hope Wade Miley bounces back and has a good second half of the season. Miley had not won a game since May 10, which covered his last ten starts; until he beat the Braves this past Sunday. He has pitched decent, never giving up more than four earned runs during that stretch, but his 4-6 record and 4.43 ERA are a far cry from what he had achieved in the previous two seasons. A few teams have inquired about him in a trade, but the Diamondbacks should keep him, as he still has a chance to be a front-line starter.
Josh Collmenter, who has won three of his last four starts, although one of those wins came in a surprise relief outing, needs to keep his consistency going with his cutters and changeups that keeps hitters off-balance. He has provided quality starts for the Diamondbacks since becoming a starter again. There is no reason for the Diamondbacks to trade him as he is valuable as a long relief pitcher and/or a starter.
Now that Brandon McCarthy has been traded to the Yankees for Vidal Nuño, will Nuño be able to come to the Diamondbacks and help in any way? He will be used as a starter and he will start this Tuesday at Chase Field. The lefthander, who is 26, started the season as the Yankees long reliever, but was forced into the starting rotation when the Yankees had a pitcher that needed season-ending Tommy John surgery in April. Nuño has struggled in the starter’s role, going 2-5 with a 4.89 ERA.
The experience gained by Mike Bolsinger and Chase Anderson this season due to Arroyo’s injury and Cahill’s assignment to the minors can only help this team in the long term. Although they need to proceed with caution with both. Anderson, who started off with five wins, has now lost his last four games and has struggled with his pitch count. Bolsinger has been a tough-luck pitcher with his 1-5 record. He has looked good in games, but the offense could not produce enough runs to support him. In his last game he gave up five runs and ten hits and looked like his control was slipping. He will be watched closely during his next start and we will see if he is sent back to AAA Reno to get his control back.
What will happen with Trevor Cahill? Part of the decision for him to accept his minor league option included a guarantee that he would return to the majors this season. Cahill has made some quality starts at AAA Reno and the Diamondbacks certainly need him to develop more confidence in his pitches; but we expect him to be back at Chase Field soon after the All-Star break.
There are pitchers in the minors that might get a look as well. Bo Schultz was on the opening day roster when the team went to Australia. He has been a starter and a relief pitcher since being singed by the Diamondbacks organization in 2012, but has started every game he has pitched in AAA Reno this season. If he gets a chance to start a game with the Diamondbacks and can hold his velocity in check; he can get his fastball up to 95 MPH. The only thing that might hold him back from getting a long look is that he is 28. He might be considered a player to be added in a trade.
Lucas Harrell, who was signed by the Diamondbacks after the Astros let him go, has big league experience. He is an excellent ground ball pitcher with a 91 MPH two-seam fastball. He also throws a slider and has worked on a curveball and a changeup. His problem is that he has lost confidence in his pitches and it shows. He was 0-3 this season with the Astros, with an ERA at 9.49, before being let go. He was a disappointing 6-17 in 2013, but the Diamondbacks are hoping he can get back to his 2012 form, when he won 11 game. Like Schultz, Harrell’s age might be a concern, as he is 29 and could be a player added in a trade as well.
Zeke Spruill has been called up to the big league club twice this season and posted a 4.82 ERA with 9 1/3 innings pitched. The front office and coaches will have to find out if he fits in their future plans. He has pitched some in relief, but he might be better suited as a number four or five starter. He has a sinking fastball that generates plenty of ground balls and his breaking ball is an above-average pitch. He has worked on a change-up pitch as well. He will still get some more seasoning at AAA Reno, but could be called back up due to an injury or in September when the rosters are expanded.
The final pitcher to look at is Archie Bradley. Everyone wanted Bradley to be called up in late April but he was not close to being ready. He had command issues and struggled with all of his pitches and then spent time on the DL with soreness in his right elbow. The Diamondbacks ordered an MRI for Bradley, but everything was structurally intact in his arm. He rested without throwing for few weeks and was back to pitching in the late May. He has improved his command and earned praise for his behavior change on the mound. His fastball will reach the mid-90s and can reach the upper 90s when he needs to. He has good sinking action on his pitches and that produces a lot of ground balls. He will turn 22 in August and it is possible the Diamondbacks will shut him down when his minor league season is done.
What do you see the Diamondbacks doing for starting pitching in the second half of the season? Leave your comments here and I will reply back.
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