The Diamondbacks currently have four pitchers in different stages of Tommy John Surgery: Patrick Corbin, David Hernandez, Matt Reynolds, and Daniel Hudson. Hudson has been recovering from two Tommy John Surgery’s for the past couple of years and has not pitched in a major league game since 2012 going 3-2 that year in 9 starts with a 7.35 ERA. Before the injury, Hudson was regarded as an up and coming star in the majors, and a solid number 2 starter in the Dbacks rotation behind at the time ace Ian Kennedy. Many Dbacks fans and media members speculated that the future of the Dbacks pitching rotation was Hudson not Kennedy. In 2011, the last time the Dbacks made the playoffs, he had a solid season going 16-12 with a 3.49 era. Hudson made the first steps toward a return to the mound this spring throwing off flat ground and he has been throwing bullpen sessions over the past few weeks.
When he returns, the Dbacks have no room in the rotation for him especially with Archie Bradley waiting in the wings. The Dbacks plan on using him instead in the bullpen. Dbacks Manager Kirk Gibson talked with MLB.com about the use of Daniel Hudson when he returns and his progress: “I think we would not do that,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said this week about a future role for Hudson. “It probably would be more in the bullpen.” “He threw his second or third bullpen the other day and was just awesome,” Gibson said. “We’re looking at right around a July return, something like that, either June or July if everything goes good.”
Hudson’s use as a bullpen arm when he returns raises many questions about his role, his health moving forward, and how he affects the rattled Snakes pen. The standard timetable for a recovery from Tommy John Surgery is 12-18 months but after a strong and successful rehab, Hudson re injured his throwing elbow in his first minor league rehab start. This has to concern the Dbacks front office about the future of Hudson in the majors and more importantly his health. When he does come back, he has to be eased in. Even if Hudson feels good and healthy, the earliest he will pitch in a major league game is August. As a result, he should start as a long reliever throwing two thirds of an inning at the most.
The most interesting part of this story is what if Hudson is successful and how would he fit into the Dbacks bullpen mix in 2015? J.J Putz has one year left on his contract and all indications are that he will not be in sedona red in 2015. His departure would open up a spot in the Dbacks bullpen. Both Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler are under contract for next season and will not be moved, both are to valuable to this team. New acquisition Oliver Perez has really struggled this season and if continues to struggle he might not be in Arizona very long despite signing a two year contract. Addison Reed will enter his first year of arbitration, and its difficult to imagine that the Dbacks wouldn’t pick up the tab on Reed no matter what the amount is, especially if he performs near or at expectations. Joe Thatcher will be a free agent and if he performs well he could be a mid season trade candidate. If he keeps struggling the Dbacks will probably let him walk. David Hernandez will be back next year after recovering from Tommy John Surgery. The Dbacks also have two up and coming revilers in the minors Matt Stites and Jake Barrett who should be ready come next season. Also we cant forget about Will Harris who had a breakout year last year.
So with so many pitchers already in the pen mix, how does Hudson fit in and what is the best way for him to earn a spot on the Snakes roster come 2015? The best way in my opinion for Hudson to make the team is for him to return to his old form when he was effective as a starter. If he can get back to throwing in the mid to upper 90’s, he will be hard to ignore. The chances he ever returns to the rotation are slim especially with all the great young arms coming up that include Bradley and Branden Shipley. If he performs well there is the option of finding a trade partner on the market. In any event, there are alot of options and questions to be answered regarding Hudson. It will be interesting to see what happens with him in the near future, its defiantly a story to keep an eye on. Where do you think Daniel Hudson fits in once he returns to the Dbacks? Leave your thoughts below in the comments section.