Every year, we see the unexpected in Major League Baseball. For the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013, it was Patrick Corbin‘s meteoric rise from fighting for a rotation spot in the Spring to staff ace by the end of the season. This year, the D’backs have in camp a pitcher who has not pitched in the Majors since 2010. Ryan Rowland-Smith is still only 31 years old and is left-handed so even if his time with Arizona is brief, another club will soon knock on his door. The questions is, will he stick with the organization beyond April 1st?
If you are not familiar with Rowland-Smith, he enjoyed a pretty successful first three seasons with the Seattle Mariners. He was pretty effective as a long reliever and spot starter for the M’s, compiling a 3.62 ERA in roughly 245 innings. In 2010, the wheels fell off for the lefty as he went 1-10 with a 6.75 ERA in 27 games. Since then, he has bounce around four different organizations never in a defined starting or relieving role. In 2013, Rowland-Smith went 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in 37 games, all as a reliever for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple A team of the Boston Red Sox. He signed with the D’backs on November 16th and will hopefully be making the trip to his native Australia when the team heads there in the middle of March.
The numbers game indicates that Rowland-Smith will have a hard time staying with the big club. The team’s bullpen has a lot of arms already and could grow more crowded depending on who loses out on the fifth starter’s job. However, Joe Thatcher is projected to be the only lefty out of the bullpen right now. He did not fare very well in his limited D’back time in 2013. There are other lefties who are in camp including Santos Rodriguez, Eury De La Rosa and Joe Paterson. If Rowland-Smith can make enough of an impression during Spring Training, specifically outpitching the latter three, I can see him being the one getting the call if Thatcher can’t get over his late season woes. Ryan Rowland-Smith making it back to the Majors four years after his last appearance would be one of the better baseball stories in 2014.