Almost every pitcher comes up through the minor leagues wanting to be a frontline starter. Many organizations would want their up-and-coming pitching prospects to pan out as starter too.
But the importance of relief pitching cannot be underestimated.
Take the Royals for example, who went on to win the World Series with dominant relief pitching and a not-so-stellar rotation. The Yankees, despite their lack of activity this year, added stud closer Aroldis Chapman to their already stout bullpen.
In the Diamondbacks’ bullpen, Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Chafin, Randall Delgado, and Josh Collmenter have all been starters at one point in their career, so the trend is very easy to see. This brings up the question in the current landscape of the Diamondbacks roster;
Should Rubby De La Rosa be converted to a reliever?
Taking a look at the Diamondbacks’ projected opening day roster, the bullpen has six of traditional seven spots pretty much locked down.
- Brad Ziegler
- Tyler Clippard
- Daniel Hudson
- Andrew Chain
- Josh Collmenter
- Randall Delgado
This leaves one spot up for grabs during spring training for guys like Silvino Bracho, Enrique Burgos and Matt Reynolds. While these are very much viable names for this spot, putting someone with better “stuff” like De La Rosa in there could make the bullpen more potent.
Although De La Rosa was the Diamondbacks’ wins and innings leader last season, he was often inconsistent. De La Rosa owns fastball that has been clocked in at upper-90s during spring and even recorded an average speed of 94.96 MPH. Allowing him to go all out with that blazing fastball alongside his above-average breaking ball can easily turn him into one of the most feared relievers in baseball.
Arizona’s rotation is in a more stable place this year with the additions of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller. Although De La Rosa still possess ace potential, the presence of other rotation candidates such as Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley, and Zack Godley, this is one experiment that the Diamondbacks should consider. The closer they’ve been seeking all year long might be residing in the rotation.