MLB: AZ Diamondbacks Pitching for Spring Training
When the AZ Diamondbacks pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training on February 19th the starting pitching staff will consist of Jeremy Hellickson, Josh Collmenter, Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa. That is the rotation identified by Dave Stewart. Interestingly, Stewart did not mention who will get the fifth spot!
The contenders for the final spot will be Vidal Nuño, Chase Anderson and Trevor Cahill. But, they are not the only candidates to consider. Randall Delgado, Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley and possibly Daniel Hudson will all get a look.
Chase Anderson should be the leading candidate, as he had a decent 2014 season. He won nine games and had 105 strikeouts. Anderson also showed several pitches during the 2014 season, including his main pitches, a four-seam fastball and a sinker. He also mixed in both a changeup and a curve-ball. However the issue with Anderson is he is a fly ball pitcher and in 2014 gave up 16 homeruns, including 10 at Chase Field.
Trevor Cahill is signed through 2017 and the Diamondbacks are going to have to use him. Cahill’s biggest issue is the inconsistency in his command. He did do well coming out of the bullpen in 2014, with a 3.04 ERA, compared to a 6.31 ERA as a starter. The Diamondbacks would prefer to use Cahill in a starting role. Wherever he ends up in the pitching staff, he cannot be as bad as he was last year. It’s doubtful another team would take on his contract, with around $12.75M still owed to him. However if another team ends up with an injury to a pitcher and they are contending, since Cahill has seen some success, a team might take a look at him.
Vidal Nuño was a tough luck pitcher when he came to the Diamondbacks. First, he was considered a “throw-in” in the trade for Brandon McCarthy. And, he never had a win as a Diamondback, and logged 7 losses in 2014 for the team, but he had a decent 3.76 ERA. During his 14-start stretch with the Diamondbacks, Nuño averaged six innings per start and had above average control. He is the only lefthander among the potential starters, so that might help him win a starting job.
Randall Delgado will likely be the long man in the bullpen during the 2015 season, but he has seen plenty of time as a starter. Delgado has five pitches that work well for him, a four-seam fastball, which can hit 95 MPH, a two-seam fastball, which comes in at 90 MPH, a curveball, a changeup and an occasional slider to right-handed hitters. We will get a chance during Spring Training to see where the Diamondbacks use him the most.
The dark-horse might be Andrew Chafin who is 24 and was drafted by the Diamondbacks in the first round of the 2011 MLB Draft. He started the 2014 season in AA Mobile and pitched well, winning four games with a 1.96 ERA. He then moved to AAA Reno where he won five games. He was a September call up for the Diamondbacks and two of his three starts were quite good. The chances of him making the Opening Day rotation are very low, but being a left hander and with a fastball around 94 MPH, with a nice natural sink, him would be a perfect pitcher at Chase Field. If there is no room for him on the Diamondbacks’ roster, he will return to AAA Reno.
Daniel Hudson will get a look for a possible starting spot during Spring Training, but it will come down to the endurance of his arm. He needed surgeries in 2012 and 2013, but worked his way back last season as a reliever, making a handful of short outings in minor-league settings before coming out of the bullpen in three games in the majors. Having thrown so few innings over the past two years, it is possible he won’t be able to handle a full starter’s workload in 2015, so he might end up as a long reliever.
Of all of the pitchers mentioned, Archie Bradley has all of what it will takes to grab the final starting spot. His fastball is in the mid-90s, and he can reach the upper-90s when necessary. He throws a lot of pitches that produce ground balls and that is important at Chase Field to avoid homeruns. Elbow soreness slowed Bradley’s progress in the first half of the 2014 season, but he has looked as good as ever since returning to the mound in late July of last year. The only drawback for Bradley right now is that GM Dave Stewart appears concerned that he is only 22, which could mean Bradley will start the season back in the minor leagues to get more seasoning.
The fifth starter competition will depend on additional signings, Spring Training performances and injuries. And, could be complicated further if any of the already named starters struggle or are injured, which would lead to more than one spot up for grabs.
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