The Diamondbacks as an organization are expecting an improvement in Trevor Cahill’s performance on the mound in his second season with the club. And despite the 25 year old right hander’s lone win compared with three losses, he is certainly headed in the right direction.
In Cahill’s last 27 1/3 innings he has allowed just four earned runs. During that stretch he has gone at least seven innings three times including Tuesday nights stellar performance in which he went 8+ innings while allowing just four hits, one walk and striking out six.
And just a night after manager Kirk Gibson said he stuck with Brad Ziegler in order to help save some arms in the bullpen, he pulled Cahill in the ninth despite the fact that he had only thrown 88 pitches.
Normally this move wouldn’t be questioned. Unfortunately, our closer is J.J. Putz and it’s still April. This deadly combo ensured Cahill’s outing was all for naught after Putz left a 0-1 splitter up for Pablo Sandoval to smash into the right center field seats. It would be J.J.’s fourth blown save in April.
Still, over the long term it is quite likely that the bullpen will get Cahill out of a jam sometime this season and save him from blowing a lead. Let’s hope anyway.
One thing that is certainly of concern is Cahill’s unusually high pitch counts early on in games causing his early departure. In his first start he worked just five innings while amassing 98 pitches. His next start saw him throw just 48 strikes out of 89 pitches in five innings. And in his last start against the Rockies Cahill needed 105 pitches- just 60 for strikes- in five innings of work. If Cahill can improve on his command and throw more contact strikes more often, he will be a viable number two starter for the D’backs this season as we’re hopefully beginning to see.
Another encouraging sign is the second round draft pick is also sitting right around 8 SO/9 innings which would be a career high and his ground outs per game have increased significantly over his last three starts meaning his signature pitch, the sinker, is finally landing in the spots that he intends.
So while Cahill is stuck on one win heading into May for the second straight year, he may be primed to have a year akin to his 2010 numbers with the Oakland A’s when he won 16 games and finished with an ERA of 2.97.
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