Why Trevor Cahill Will Be The D’backs Best Pitcher This Season


Sep. 29, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Trevor Cahill (35) during the game against the Chicago Cubs in the fourth inning at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

When the Oakland A’s and the Arizona Diamondbacks got together a couple of seasons ago and decided to complete a trade, many D’backs fans reacted with venom towards the results. Arizona sent promising young starting pitcher Jerrod Parker, reliever Ryan Cook and outfielder Colin Cowgill to Oakland for pitcher’s Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow.

As a few of my colleagues have alluded to already on this site, this trade, as of right now, looks very lopsided in Oakland’s favor. Parker might be the A’s best pitcher and Cook served the year as the closer for most of the season and made the 2012 American League All-Star team. Cowgill played sporadically for the A’s last season.

From Arizona’s standpoint, they received great value in Cahill and Breslow and spoke volumes of the two pitchers at the time. Since the trade, Breslow has been moved on to Boston (seperate trade) and Cahill has disappointed to many fans who felt that he should have a better record and ERA than he had last season.

Let me explain to you why I feel this trade will work out for Arizona in the long run and more importantly, this season.

Cahill is a workhorse, averaging over 195 innings a season in his first four major league seasons. While his physique may not be the most imposing, he has proven that he is durable and his attitude borders on fearless. His pitching style also suggests that he will be around for the long haul. He gets a lot out of his motion and uses good mechanics to his advantage, which places less stress on the arm as the season continues.

Cahill is a winner. In his four-year career in the minor leagues, Cahill’s record was 23-9 with a 2.62 ERA while spending time at all levels. Since he reached the majors in 2009, the 24 year-old right hander is 53-47 with a 3.87 ERA. Last season with Arizona, his first in the desert, he was 13-12 with a 3.78 ERA while playing half of his games in a  notoriously friendly hitter’s park in Chase Field.  Learning a new ballpark, playing with new teammates and ajusting to new surroundings takes time. Cahill was able to manage a winning record with a sub-4.00 ERA on a below-average team in a hitter friendly ballpark. This to me exemplifies Cahill’s mental toughness.

Cahill has good stuff. He is known as a ground ball pitcher and that is due to his devastating sinker. His sinker travels from 89-92 mph and features a late, sharp downward movement. His next best pitch is his change-up, usually thrown to left-handed hitters and traveling from 80-83 mph. It also has the same downward movement as his fastball and moves away from left handed hitters. Cahill also features a 12-6 curve ball and an occasional slider that he throws to right handed hitters. If Cahill continues to work with pitching coach Charles Nagy to master his control of his sinker (Nagy had a nasty sinker during his career) and begins to throw more strikes early in the count, he will be extremely effective this season.

Finally Cahill will benefit from throwing as the third or fourth pitcher in the rotation. Ian Kennedy will be the ace and Wade Miley figures to slide into the number two role after having a tremendous season in 2012. That means Cahill will continue to match up with the third best pitcher on opponent’s staff’s most of the time. I will take Cahill in that match-up the vast majority of the time.

The 6’4, 220 lbs. former American League All-Star will begin to figure it out as this season progresses. His familiarity with Chase Field will play to his advantage, his knowledge of National League hitters will only allow him to plan his strategy better and his connection with his catcher (Miguel Montero) after a year together will only make him more comfortable on the bump. These factors will once again propel Trevor Cahill to the All-Star game this season and he will become the de facto leader of this Arizona pitching staff by the end of the year.