The Diamondbacks recently traded for a pitcher! Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of “recently,” but in January of this year, the Diamondbacks obtained Randall Delgado from the Atlanta Braves in the Justin Upton/Martin Prado swap. He was definitely not considered to be the premier piece of the trade at the time but has been the most valuable player acquired in the deal so far. In fact, he has been one of the best Diamondback pitchers this year on a per-start basis.
Delgado made his Arizona debut on June 3rd, pitching two relief innings. He got hit around and did not pitch particularly well. Randall had been a starter all throughout his career, so I can forgive him for making a subpar and unexpected relief appearance. Since then, he has made seven starts and averaged six innings per start. In those seven starts, he has never surrendered more than three earned runs, showing his consistency. Delgado has registered a “quality start” in five of his seven starts and just missed a sixth when he was pulled after 5 2/3 innings against the Giants a few days ago.
So, how has he found success on the mound? After an uninspiring 17 starts with Atlanta in 2012, Delgado has found his footing with the Diamondbacks by limiting his walks. He is still striking out just over seven batters per nine innings, but he has seemingly found his control and is issuing less than two free passes per nine innings. He is around the zone more, meaning he is throwing more strikes, but as a consequence, he is also allowing more hits. In essence, he has traded walks for hits and it has certainly worked out for him. Because he is not walking batters, when the knocks do come, there are not usually men on base. By scattering singles, he has avoided the big innings and the disastrous outings.
Delgado has always generated a fairly strong number of ground balls and is keeping that up in 2013. By getting the ball hit on the ground, he keeps it in the park and always has the chance to generate a double play when needed. Like a lot of Arizona pitchers, his home run rates are problematic. With that said, he’s currently well above his career average in terms of dingers allowed, so it looks like there is hope that it regresses back near his career and league averages.
Delgado has been a stabilizing force since entering the rotation. He’s not going to dominate like Corbin, but he will limit the damage and give the team a chance to win day in and day out. Others have noticed his solid improvement, such as the White Sox, who recently scouted him given the Diamondbacks’ interest in Chicago’s pitchers. Perhaps we didn’t know it at the time, but Delgado may prove to be the pitcher that the Diamondbacks needed all along. At just 23, the future is bright and he looks capable of holding a middle of the rotation spot down for a long time to come.