Josh Collmenter was the best starting pitcher for the D’backs in 2014. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Perhaps the primary culprit in the poor season of the Arizona Diamondbacks was the starting pitching. When you lose 40% of your starting five before June ends and another 40% perform way below expectations, then how can a team be asked to compete night in and night out? While a couple of bright spots emerged, it was overall a disastrous performance by the rotation. Here are the main players:
Wade Miley: Counted on to be the staff ace in the absence of Patrick Corbin, Miley had by far the worst season of his career, going 8-12 with a 4.34 ERA. Perhaps most alarming are the amount of walks issued between 2012 and 2014. Two seasons ago, he issued only 37 free passes in 194 2/3 innings. In 2014, Miley gave up 75 walks in 201 1/3 innings. On the positive side, he struck out 183 batters, bettering his career-best by 36. He also went over 200 innings for the second consecutive season. However, every other meaningful statistic for the 27-year old lefty was a negative including surrendering a personal-high of 23 home runs and 1.40 WHIP. Miley’s regression caused a ripple effect through the entire rotation.
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Josh Collmenter: The super reliever turned out to be the best starting pitcher in 2014. When the D’backs’ desperately needed someone to step forward and stabilize the rotation, Collmenter was the man. He finished with the team lead in victories at 11 and the best ERA at 3.46. The 28-year old righty pitched a career-high 179 1/3 innings with an outstanding walk to strikeout ratio of almost 3 to 1. Collmenter was terrific in September, going 2-2 with a 1.53 ERA in five starts. While he excelled as a long reliever/spot starter, Collmenter is most valuable right now in the D’backs’ rotation.
Trevor Cahill: As good as Collmenter was, that’s how bad Cahill was last season. He finished with a 3-12 record and a 5.61 ERA. That only tells half the story. He had 55 walks in only 110 2/3 innings pitched. After his first four starts yielded an ERA of 9.17, Cahill was banished to the bullpen. After a so-so stint as a reliever, he was sent down to the Minor Leagues for about six weeks. Upon his return, the 26-year old sinkerballer enjoyed a four start stretch in which he allowed seven earned runs in 27 innings. However, Cahill revereted back to early season form in the month of September with a 7.13 ERA in 24 innings covering five starts.
Chase Anderson: Because of the crater-sized issues of the Snakes’ rotation, the rookie Anderson was called up straight from Double A Mobile to take a spot. He turned out to be a pleasant surprise, finishing with a record of 9-7 and an ERA of 4.01 in 21 starts. He had a walk to strikeout ratio of 2.63 to 1, hurling a total of 114 1/3 Major League innings. Nearly 20% of his starts were vs the Rockies, whom he was 3-1 with a 3.52 ERA against. One drawback that needs to be worked on by the 26-year old Anderson is working deep into games. Only two of his 21 starts were seven innings long.
Brandon McCarthy: The 31-year old right-hander made 32 starts and hit the 200 inning plateau for the first time in his career. Unfortunately, almost half of those totals came in the second half of the season with the Yankees. His D’backs’ numbers were an underwhelming 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA. However, he pitched pretty well for most of his Arizona starts; usually it was one big inning that would doom him. McCarthy learned to pitch deeper into games going seven innings in nearly half of his Diamondbacks’ outings.
Vidal Nuno: The man that came to the desert in exchange for McCarthy was the 27-year old lefty. Nuno was an entirely different pitcher in Arizona than he was in New York. Cuffed around with the Yankees, Nuno had varying degrees of success with the D’backs, including one start in which he retired 20 straight batters, giving up two hits and one run in eight innings. Of course, this being the D’backs, he got the losing decision. In fact, Nuno was 0-7 in 14 starts for the team but with a 3.76 ERA. He had five starts of seven innings or more allowing two runs or less in each of them.
Bronson Arroyo: The big D’backs’ free agent acquisition got off to a terrible start. Arroyo had a 9.50 ERA after his first four outings. Then the veteran right-hander showed why some of us (namely me) were excited about him joining the team. He allowed two earned runs or less in seven of the next ten starts including a one run, complete game masterpiece on May 13th against the NL East Champion Nationals. Unfortunately, after he recorded his 7th win of the season against the Dodgers on June 15th, Arroyo was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, necessitating Tommy John surgery. His future with the D’backs is in doubt as he is expected to miss most of, if not all of, the 2015 season.
Mike Bolsinger: Another rookie that was pressed into service, Bolsinger did not have the success of his fellow first year teammate Anderson. He made nine starts and recorded a record of 1-6 with an ERA of 5.50. He had 48 strikeouts in 52 1/3 innings but also gave up 66 hits and 17 walks. Bolsinger’s best outing came on June 22nd against the Giants in which he gave one earned run in 7 2/3 innings. The D’backs being the D’backs, Bolsinger was on the losing end of a 3-1 decision. He last pitched for the Snakes on July 11th, also vs. the Giants in which gave up five runs in five innings.