When the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired left-handed pitcher Vidal Nuno on July 6th in exchange for Brandon McCarthy, there wasn’t much excitement. McCarthy had his moments with the D’backs but not enough to live up to his 2-year, $18 million dollar contract he signed with the team before the 2013 season. The deal was looked at as a way for the Snakes to dump some salary and get something before McCarthy undoubtedly left as a free agent. Nuno, based on his performance with the New York Yankees, was considered more or less an afterthought in the trade.
Since arriving in Arizona, the 27-year old Nuno sought a permanent spot in the rotation. After ten starts, he could very well be on his way there. Sure, there have been performances that made us flash back to the bad old days of his time in New York. However, for the most part, Nuno has delivered more solid performances than bad and has been a godsend for a rotation that has been wrecked with injury and underwhelming outings. In his very first start on July 8th, he shut out the Marlins over seven innings, allowing only three hits. But in a foreshadowing of what else was to come, the D’back offense couldn’t score for him and the bullpen blew his 1-0 lead; the Snakes eventually lost 2-1. Over his last seven starts, Nuno has allowed more than two earned runs only once while pitching at least 5 2/3 innings in six of those seven outings. Over the past 22 1/3 innings, he has surrendered only five earned runs with only four walks while striking out 18. His most recent outing on Saturday was the best one of his career. He allowed only two hits and no walks over eight innings, retiring 20 consecutive batters at one point. Unfortunately, he allowed a second inning solo home run and lost the game 2-0.
Nuno is 0-4 with a 3.23 ERA in ten starts for the D’backs. in 61 1/3 innings, he has allowed only 45 hits and 12 walks while fanning 49. Maybe if he was on a better team would Nuno still have to fight for a spot in the rotation in Spring Training. However, on a squad where Josh Collmenter belongs in the bullpen, but also deserves a rotation spot and Wade Miley has seriously regressed, Nuno deserves to be in the starting five. Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo will both miss healthy portions of 2015 and while Chase Anderson has been a pleasant surprise, Nuno has showed an ability to go deeper into games than the rookie. If you believe that either Archie Bradley or Aaron Blair earns a spot when camp breaks, that still leaves one spot open. It needs to be filled by Vidal Nuno.