Coming into this year, the Dbacks starting rotation was regarded as one of the strengths of this team by all the pundits and the team. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case this season, and it is one of the reason why the Dbacks are sitting in fourth place at the one quarter mark.
Collmenter’s last start against the Cleveland Indians was rained out like it didn’t exist thanks to severe weather in the Cleveland area. The Tomahawk probably wishes the first inning of last nights game was washed out to. Without the first frame, Collmenter had a pretty good outing.
Overall, he lasted just four innings giving up five earned runs, four of those in the first inning, on seven hits while striking out four and walking just one. Christian Yelich led off the game with his 19th double of the season, and right of the bat their was a runner in scoring position, and Josh was pitching from the stretch.
He got into deeper trouble when he walked Jeff Baker putting runners on first and second with no outs for the N.L’s leading RBI man Giancarlo Stanton. What Stanton did next was what everybody expects. Stanton crushed a three run homer into the left field bullpen, and three batters in it was already 3-0 Marlins.
What I noticed right off the bat was it looked like he was losing energy really quickly on the mound, and it seemed like he was showing signs of fatigue. After the game Collmenter said he was fine talking with Steve Gilbert of MLB.com:
“I felt fine, just everything was a little flat and the pitches didn’t do what they were supposed to do, and I think that’s why they hit them out of the park.”
While Josh himself tried to downplay how he felt, it was clear to everybody that he just didn’t have it. This what Dbacks Manager Kirk Gibson said after the game about his starter’s performance:
“He didn’t seem to have his good stuff today at all,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “He struggled, his velocity was way down. He really didn’t have it today.”
Collmenter was thrust into the rotation in April when Arizona decided to put struggling starter Randell Delgado in the bullpen. After last nights performance, he is already at 129.1 innings pitched. The bottom line is he hasn’t had that type of workload for a couple of years.
In 2011 as a starter he threw 154.1 innings. Then in 2012 and 2013 he only threw 182.1 innings combined before switching back to the rotation this year. Granted Josh was great in his role as the long reliever, and he has done a good job as a starter, but it’s hard for a pitcher to bounce back and forth from starter to reliever, and it takes a tole on a pitchers durability and stamina.
That might be what’s happening to Collmenter this year. The Dbacks aren’t concerned yet, but pitching coach Mike Harkey, and Gibson are keeping an eye on the issue.
One thing that has to worry the Dbacks is that his velocity is down on all of his pitches. His fastball which usually averages 87 MPH with a Max velocity of 90.1 MPH according to FanGraphs pitch f/x. From the start, his fastball velocity was in the low 80’s. Combined with bad location, that is a recipe for disaster.
This is what Harkey told MLB.com about declining velocity:
“There’s a lot of reasons why guys’ velocities vary from start to start.” “He’s working on 130 innings. He hasn’t done that in a couple of years. We’re going to have to reevaluate if it’s something going forward that we need to be concerned about. We’ll figure it out. He says he feels good.”
Harkey said the team will keep an eye on it. Collmenter did admit after the game that the workload might be starting to affect him. The Snakes obviously don’t want to risk his long term durability, and with the team out of the race it might be a good idea to shut him down after he reaches a certain amount of innings pitched and use him from time to time out of the pen for the rest of the year.
After Collmenter was taken out, the Marlins offense got to Delgado for five more runs and the game was over. The Dbacks offense managed to only score three runs. The Marlins took 3 of 4 and are only three games back in the second N.L Wild Card Race. Meanwhile the Dbacks continue their road-trip with a series against the Nationals in DC.