Mike Bolsinger: Space Filler or Long Term Solution?


Can Mike Bolsinger become an integral part of the D’backs? Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries and ineffectiveness have forced the Arizona  Diamondbacks into calling up players that may not have normally been on the team’s radar. For instance, Mike Bolsinger wasn’t thought of as a top prospect heading into the 2014 season; in fact, mlb.com didn’t have him among the top 20 prospects of the D’backs’ organization. However, Bolsinger, who made his Major League debut on April 14th has suddenly found himself as one of the top five pitchers in the Arizona rotation. It leads to the question about the 26-year old right-hander: is he a part of the Snakes’ future or is he just holding down the fort until Patrick Corbin and Archie Bradley are ready to return?

I just think he's matured a bit-Kirk Gibson on Mike Bolsinger

At the very least, Boslinger is a part of the team’s present and short-term future. Unless he turns in repeated weak performances for the rest of this season, it is hard to imagine he will be sent back for a second time to Triple A Reno. During his first stint, it seemed as though the former 15th round pick had issues facing a lineup the third, and at times, the second time around. He has had only two starts since his recall but he appears to be a different pitcher.  He has thrown a total of 14 innings and given up only four earned runs, including Sunday’s start against the Giants when he went 7 1/3 innings, the longest outing if his brief Major League career. Manager Kirk Gibson noticed a change since Bolsinger returned from Reno; here is what the manager said to Sarah McLellan at azcentral.com :”I just think he’s matured a bit…he was up here the first time, got a taste, went down and worked on some things. It’s all about locating your pitches. You can see there’s something about him hiding the ball. You’re looking up there seeing 88, 89 mph, but the swings tell you that it’s something different. He has some deception about him. He has some movement about him. He’s pretty good at moving the ball around as well.”

What about beyond 2014? I think it is safe to say that barring any unforeseen circumstances, Bolsinger will head into Spring Training next season as one of the five starting rotation members. It would be foolish to count on Corbin and Bradley until at least midseason. Corbin will not be fully 100% until after he fully recovers from Tommy John surgery. He may not pitch in a game until July and even then it won’t be the All-Star Patrick Corbin we saw in 2013. As far as Bradley goes, he has already missed two months of this season with a strained flexor tendon. He has thrown a couple of rehab outings which is good to hear but unless he dominates the rest of 2014, I am not sure he would be considered a rotation candidate for 2015. Remember, Bradley has to learn to pitch instead of just being a power arm. Those aren’t my words; those came from Tony LaRussa.

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  • The bottom line is that Mike Bolsinger will have about a year to showcase whether or not he can be a long term solution for the Diamondbacks. He will have to pitch well enough to fend off not only Corbin and Bradley but also Braden Shipley and Aaron Blair who may be making their Major League debuts late in the 2015 season.  Stay tuned.