Looking at the starting rotation for the 2015 Arizona Diamondbacks with a new season coming up in a matter of weeks, I’m left to wonder just how well this rotation will fare after an off season that has seen a considerable effort from the front office towards being competitive within the N.L. West. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the starting five hurlers for your home town nine, the Arizona Diamondbacks!
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Josh Collmenter. This season he’ll be our ace and go-to-guy in must win games and a possible playoff appearance. MLB.com writer Steve Gilbert has reported on December 12th that Collmenter will not, in fact, be the Diamondbacks Opening Day starter. His 2014 numbers do make a strong case however. He turned in a 11-9 record with a 3.46 ERA over 33 games while pitching 179 1/3 innings over the course of the 2014 season. He recorded 115 strike-outs, with a meager 1.13 WHIP.
FanGraphs projects Collementer’s Over/Under numbers say he’s going to go 10-12 with a 4.38 ERA. I think the numbers are just a bit inflated considering the Diamondbacks are re-tooling offensively to support their starting pitchers.
If I were running the show, I’d put him in as my ace and starter for Opening Day this season. I expect him to have a great year with an ERA at or slightly under 3.00, 120 strikeouts in 35 or more starts this season. Diamondback fans can feel confident in Josh Collmenter.
Rubby De La Rosa. Coming from the Red Sox, where he went 4 – 8 last year with an average 4.43 ERA over 19 games, having pitched 101 2/3 innings, De La Rosa could have a break out year. FanGraphs projects him to go 8-15 over 174 1/3 IP seeing 44 starts with a 7.84 K/9 average and ERA of 3.82. I think FanGraphs underscores his value here. His contract value is at the league-minimum and despite his topsy-turvy numbers in previous years with other clubs in the MLB and the minor leagues, it’s very possibly he could have a break-out season on the way to establishing himself as a solid starter while seeing more innings pitched
Allen Webster. Another Red Sox transplant that could go either way. Webster went 5-3 last season in Boston while only turning in 59 IP over 11 games with a 5.03 ERA. Webster hasn’t seen enough work in the last season in the majors, as he was mainly a utility right hander who served part of the 2014 season with the Pawtucket AAA affiliate club for the Red Sox. What is concerning is that his ERA went from 3.16 in Pawtucket to 5.03 in Boston, while starting 21 times in the minors and 11 times professionally. FanGraphs lists him turning a 1-2 season with a 4.64 ERA while averaging just under 7 strike outs per game. I’m not sure about Webster because the numbers seem to bounce around quite a bit between assignments. I think he might be a weak link in this rotation. I’ll be overjoyed if I am proven wrong.
Vidal Nuno. When the trade for Nuno was announced during the 2014 season, I heard quite a bit of griping and groaning about the deal from Diamondback fans. Coming from the New York Yankees, he went 2-12 last year over 31 starts. He turned in 161 2/3 innings of work while averaging just over 7 K’s per game with a 4.01 ERA. I think Nuno will have a great year, provided that the offense gives him the support that he needs by generating runs. If the Diamondbacks can do that, there’s no reason why he can’t do better than the FanGraphs projection of 8-9, with all other categories looking very similar in numbers. Nuno actually pitched really well for the Diamondbacks, but he never got any run support. I think he’s better than what is on paper, and if the offense shows up on a consistent basis Nuno will have a great season.
Trevor Cahill. Another righty that is in his last year of a 30 Million dollar contract. Spending the first 7 games of the 2014 season with two different minor league clubs within the Diamondbacks farm club system. Last season for the Diamondbacks was a miserable one as he had a 3-12 record and a disappointing 5.61 ERA. FanGraphs projects Cahill going 8-10 this season with a considerable improvement to his ERA, coming down to 4.27. The early part of the season will tell if Cahill has turned things around, if he has, great. If not, I’d keep a close eye on him as he too could be a weak spot in the rotation. If Cahill doesn’t improve look for him to possibly get traded at the deadline come next July.
Chase Anderson. Last, but not least is the 27 year-old right handed hurler from Texas. Last season saw Anderson provide a 9-7 record over 21 starts with 114 1/3 innings pitched with a “middle of the road” ERA of 4.01. FanGraphs projects this season to be a 7-8 winning record over 22 games with an ERA that barely creeps up to 4.06. I think this projection says more about the issue of the Diamondbacks bats not driving in runs rather than Anderson’s ability to pitch. I think he has the potential to be better than projected by at least a few games in the win column if he, and the rest of the club, stays healthy and the offense provides much needed run support.
Overall, I think the Diamondbacks have a solid pitching rotation. I think the issue here isn’t a bad staff, but the uncertainty of run production by this offense. If the Diamondbacks can stay healthy, a big issue that decimated the club last season, while driving in more runs then this staff can make 2015 a very competitive year.
If I were wearing the manager’s cap, I’d be concerned about the Bullpen this season. We’ve seen in years past where starters go a solid seven innings, only to have a shaky reliever come in and blow the save.
I feel confident about the starters, no doubt. Add run support and a re-tooled bullpen to the mix, there isn’t any reason why this club couldn’t contend for the N.L. West crown.