Starting Pitching: A Season Long Weakness


After yet another subpar effort by another Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher, it’s hard to imagine that after 156 games, the rotation continues to search for its identity.

Heading into the season, many experts would predict that the starting rotation would appear to be one of the team’s strength as team had five reliable starters with experience at the major league level: Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, and Josh Collmenter.

Unfortunately for Arizona, three of the five starters did not perform at the level that was expected of them. A 20-game winner a season ago, Ian kennedy found difficulty with his command throughout the first half of the season. Although he has pitched more consistently over the second half of the season, he has yet to pitch like the ace that he was a season ago.

Sept. 20, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Tyler Skaggs (37) throws during the fifth inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

Trevor Cahill was the biggest name acquired by the club over the offseason in an attempt to improve the rotation on a more immediate basis. In Oakland, Cahill had excelled in only a couple season’s at the big league level, and the Diamondbacks were intrigued by his affordability and success for such a young pitcher. Unfortunately for Arizona, he has failed to show the command that was previously displayed when he was an All-Star for the Oakland Athletics. He has picked up 12 victories to this point of the season, but has not shown the dominance of a number two starter that the Diamondbacks are requiring of him.

Josh Collmenter was one of the biggest surprises as a rookie, picking up ten victories and providing stability at the back end of the rotation a season ago. His rocky start to the season led to his ultimate demotion to the pen, where he did regain his control and velocity, but his consistency and durability remain a weakness.

Daniel Hudson also had difficulty with his command and ended up missing most of the month of May with shoulder problems. Upon returning to the rotation on May 27th, he attempted to work through his shoulder pain, but would see his ERA rise to a season high 7.35. He would again land on the DL and would later undergo Tommy John surgery on July 9, 2012, to end his season.

Joe Saunders had a very solid 2011 season, accumulating 12 victories and providing veteran leadership in a very young rotation. When he wasn’t able to mimic his 2011 numbers, team management decided to trade Saunders in an effort to unload his salary and acquire some talent in return (he is eligible for Free-agency at the end of the season).

Perhaps the only bright spot of the rotation was this season’s loan All-star representative in Wade Miley. Miley has shocked everyone by providing consistent quality starts all season long. He has used a combination of good command of all his pitches to deceive hitters and has shown his durability time and time again. With 16 victories on the season, it’s safe to say his spot in the rotation next season is possibly the only safe bet heading into the offseason.

The Diamondbacks have used a combination of young and talented minor league arms to fill out the rotation throughout the season, combining Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Trevor Bauer to round out the rotation. Skaggs and Bauer showed a lot of promise but saw their velocity drop as the season progressed and eventually led to their season ending. Corbin has shown more consistency at the major league level but needs to develop his secondary pitches more before being considered a more permanent member of the rotation.

Without a true ace on the staff, the team is desperately looking for more consistency from their veterans, and hope that their young pitching talent develops sooner rather than later. Either way, it should be interesting to see what the team does heading into the offseason.