September is almost here, and that means one thing: rosters will be expanding. Contending teams are looking to add pieces to strengthen their team for the stretch run and the postseason. Teams that are out of the race like the Diamondbacks are looking to experiment and evaluate with positions of depth, and give as many young players that are ready the chance to get some big-league experience.
The Diamondbacks want to focus on the starting rotation when it comes time to expand their roster. On September 1st, each team’s active 25 man roster expands to the 40 man roster. This means that any player on the 40 man roster can play on the major league team. Dbacks Manager Kirk Gibson told the media on Saturday that the team plans to go to a six man rotation.
Of course, the timing of September call-ups varies depending on how well the minor league teams are doing. For the Dbacks, Gibson said that it all depends on how Triple-A Reno is doing. This is what he told MLB.com:
“A lot of it depends on [Triple-A] Reno,” Gibson said. “They’re one game back now. They get in the playoffs, it’s a timing thing. If their season ends on time, then you go one way. If the season ends after the playoffs, it changes the way things would play out.”
The Aces currently sit in second place, 1.5 games back of the Sacramento River Cats in the Pacific Coast League Northern Division. It is becoming more common for teams to call up players from Double A instead of sending them to Triple A, and the Snakes certainly could do that. The BayBears currently sit in third place, 3.0 games back of the Mississippi Braves in the Southern League South Division. If both teams make the playoffs, that will certainly affect who the Dbacks could call up.
In terms of starting rotation candidates, one option might be Randall Delgado. He made two starts earlier this season against the Rockies on April 4th, and against the Giants on April 10th, and he struggled in both outings. According to FanGraphs.com, in just 7.1 innings pitched, he went 0-1 with a 6.14 FIP, while allowing nine earned runs. He gave up 16 hits, and his command was poor. He walked five while striking out just 3 batters.
The Dbacks moved him to the bullpen, and he has been much better. According to FanGraphs, in 36 appearances he is 2-2 with a 3.57 FIP. Opposing batters are hitting just .196 against him, compared with .444 when he was in the rotation. He is also striking out batters at a higher rate, and walking less batters. When he was in the rotation, his K% was under 4%, and his walk rate was above 12%. Since he joined the bullpen, his K rate has risen to 30.3%, and his walk rate has dropped significantly to 11.9%. As a result, he is allowing less runs, and he is commanding all of his pitches better.
Delgado has always had a great fastball and changeup, but he has greatly improved his breaking ball. Gibson thinks this is the reason why he is having more success:
“He’s always had a good fastball and a good changeup,” Gibson said. “His breaking ball is much better now.”
Delgado has plenty of experience starting games, and it wont hurt to put back in the rotation to see what he can do. If he struggles again, then at least the Snakes know that the pen is a better fit for him. The Dbacks are out of contention, and this is a chance for the team to evaluate everybody. They could also call up Archie Bradley, but he is struggling to throw strikes in Double-A. Aaron Blair is having a great year, and I think he deserves a look in September. Chase Anderson, Mike Bolsinger, Charles Brewer, and Andrew Chafin are other candidates to join the rotation.
Whoever joins the rotation next month, they will probably be replacing Josh Collmenter or Chase Anderson. Anderson has already passed his highest innings mark of his career, and Collmenter is quickly reaching his limit, and his velocity has been down at different points this season. Going to a six man rotation will allow the Dbacks to get Collmenter and Anderson extended rest. Even though the Diamondbacks are out of contention, there is plenty to watch over the final month of the season.