September 6, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcherChase Anderson
(57) pitches the first inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
It’s never to early to forecast what the 2015 Diamondbacks might look like. Today I will dive into my crystal ball and try to predict what the starting rotation might look like come Opening Day 2015.
This is the bottom line: in a 162 game season besides health, starting pitching is the no.1 key to winning and making the playoffs. The Diamondbacks finished with the worst record in baseball in 2014. They also finished with the fifth worst rotation era in baseball at 4.26.
The best team in the National League the Nationals had the best rotation era at 3.03. Alan Trammel said it best in speaking to Jack Magruder of Fox Sports Arizona:
“Let’s be honest,” interim manager Alan Trammell said. “One hundred years ago today, one hundred years from now, pitching is the No. 1 component in baseball. Always has and always will be. Never change. Without it, you can’t win. End of story. You need others parts, but that has to be it.”
The Diamondbacks have made it clear that priority number one is addressing the starting rotation. Diamondbacks General Manager Dave Stewart, Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations DeJon Watson, and Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa have already said that they don’t expect the Diamondbacks to be very active.
Most of the names that are on this roster now, will probably be on the roster come April of 2015. Both Stewart and Watson doubted that they would have the resources to pursue top free agent starters Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, and James Shields. The Diamondbacks want to keep their farm system intact, and they are hoping that good health, and improved performance will lead to a more competitive team in 2015.
With that in mind lets look at who could be in the Snakes opening day rotation:
Josh Collmenter: Paul Goldschmidt was the Diamondbacks MVP in 2013, and Josh Collmenter was the team’s MVP this past season. In 179 innings pitched this year, he led the team with 11 wins, and finished with an era of 3.46 which also lead the team. After a tough start in August against the Marlins, many were worried that Josh was suffering from fatigue as a result of throwing a lot of innings. In his next seven starts he went 3-2 with a 1.26 era essentially making his case to remain in the rotation. Its clear that Josh likes to start, and the Diamondbacks need more starters than relievers. The Dbacks bullpen has plenty of depth to survive without Collmenter. He has pitched like an ace since late August, and he needs to remain in the rotation.
Wade Miley: Miley didn’t have a great 2014 season. He went 8-12 with a 4.34 era and a 3.68 FIP. He struggled with his command all season long and that is the n0.1 key to Miley’s success. However, there is no doubt in my mind that Miley has to remain in the rotation for 2015. There is something to be said about a starter who is reliable, and takes the ball every fifth day. This season Miley pitched 201.1 innings his second straight season of at least 200 innings pitched. In the last three seasons he has made 95 starts which is in the top 10 in all of baseball. He is durable, and he gives his team a chance to win a game. Every team needs a starter that never misses a start, and Miley is that guy for Arizona.
Patrick Corbin: At some point Corbin is expected to rejoin the rotation. Of course that all depends on how quickly he can fully recover from Tommy John surgery. The Arizona Republic reported in late August that Corbin probably wont be ready to pitch until June of next season. Of course when he does come back, he likely wont be thrown into the rotation immediately. Once he rejoins the rotation, the question will be how long it will take for him to be effective. It usually takes most starters a couple of months to regain their stuff after recovering from Tommy John surgery. That means if Corbin rejoins the rotation sometimes in June, then he probably wont be effective till August. But who knows maybe his recovery will be faster.
Chase Anderson: Anderson put together a nice rookie season for the Diamondbacks. Anderson was called up on May 6th and was thrust right into the rotation. In his first six major league starts he went 5-1 with a 3.21 era and was making a case early in the season for National League Rookie of the Year. He went at least 5 innings in every one of those starts while striking out 26 and walking 11. He hit the rookie wall after that. In his next 20 starts, he went 8-7 with a 4.13 era. That is still really good for a rookie that was put into the big league rotation in May. The biggest issue with Anderson is the long ball. In his last 20 starts he gave up 15 HR. That needs to be improved, but he certainly proved that he belongs in the rotation for next season.
Trevor Cahill: Many would say that Cahill is likely to be in the Diamondbacks rotation, but like Brandon McCarthy who was traded to the Yankees at the trade deadline, I dont think his best fit is in Arizona. He finished 3-12 with a 5.61 era in 2014, and he also struggled out of the bullpen, and he was even worse when he was sent down to the minor leagues. Given the pitching depth that the Diamondbacks have in their farm system, I dont think he is part of the team’s future. That is why I think the Dbacks should dump him right now because it makes financial sense. Cahill will make 12 million in 2015, which is five million more than he made this season. He isn’t worth that kind of money, and if the Dbacks are serious about shredding some payroll, then Cahill would be a good option. Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa announced that the team’s payroll will be in the 80-110 million dollar range. I have put him in the maybe category because the Dbacks could still decide to keep him given the injuries to Bronson Arroyo, and Corbin.
Mike Bolsinger: If you like FIP which eliminates defense and looks at what a pitcher can control, then Bolsinger has actually been a better pitcher than Anderson. Bolsinger’s FIP was 3.78 compared to Anderson’s 4.22 FIP. Bolsinger also has better minor league numbers than Anderson. If Chase gets a chance to be in the rotation than I think Bolsinger defiantly deserves a shot. Again the injuries to Arroyo and Corbin might increase his chances to get a spot.
Vidal Nuno: When Nuno was traded to the Diamondbacks from the Yankees in the Brandon McCarthy deal, not many people expected anything from the rookie in Arizona. Instead he went out and consistently pitched well. He just ran into alot of bad luck. In 14 starts with Arizona he went 0-7 but he had a 3.76 era and a 3.90 FIP. Like Anderson, the long ball is a problem for Nuno. He gave up 10 HR in those 14 starts, but Nuno was impressive. He just never got enough run support, or the bullpen blew it. Given how consistent he was, he certainly deserves a chance to compete for a spot in spring training.
Archie Bradley: Of any minor league pitcher, Bradley has the most to prove in 2015. He went 1-4 with a 5.18 era at Triple A Reno and he was riddled with injuries the whole year. It looks like Bradley has lost his wipe out stuff. He will have to really impress in the Arizona Fall League next month to even have a shot at being in the 2015 rotation.
Aaron Blair: Blair might reach the major leagues before Bradley which is amazing when you think about it. Blair went 4-1 with a 1.94 era in eight starts at Mobile. He was named the Dbacks 2014 organizational pitcher of the year. He helped the Bay Bears get to game five of the Southern League Finals. Amazingly, his numbers at Mobile were better than his numbers at Visalia or South Bend. Bradley got a chance to be in the 2014 rotation, and I’m sure at the very least Blair will get an invitation to spring training.
Andrew Chafin: Chafin went 0-1 with a 3.86 in 3 starts at the big league level. He has big league experience, but to me its to small of a sample size. He will probably start the year in the minors, and if he pitches well, he could get called up early in the season.
Randall Delgado: Delgado was mainly used as a reliever in 2014, and it is probably what his role will be in 2015. However, he does have starting experience at the big league level, and if the Snakes really need it he could start.
There are alot of options, and there is still a chance that the Diamondbacks could go after guys like Jason Hammel and Francisco Liriano but its more likely they will stay in house. With that said, Miley and Collmenter in no practicular order will occupy the no.1 and no.2 spots. If Corbin is healthy than he will be in the rotation, but that might not come till later in the season. Same with Arroyo though he is more of a question mark. In terms of who will fill out the rest of the spots for the opening day rotation I think Anderson, Nuno, and Cahill have the best shots with Bolsinger being a sleeper candidate.
Let me know what you think. Share your thoughts in the comments section below!