A couple of turns through may be premature to hit the panic button. But one early red flag raised concerns the toll taken on the bullpen, and how it could affect the entire pitching staff moving forward.
The two newcomers to the rotation, Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, are expected to carry the team along in terms of quantity and quality innings pitched. Through each of their first 3 starts, they have combined to give up 25 earned runs in 30 innings while averaging only 5 innings per start.
The two lefties in the rotation have fared a bit better. Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray have combined to perform to the tune of 10 earned runs in 32 frames in 5 total starts.
While Miller and Greinke are expected for their performance rebound, the current wild card in the rotation is RHP Rubby De la Rosa. Through two starts and three relief appearances, he has posted an 8.44 earned run average in 10.2 innings.
De la Rosa may be shifted into a new role after the team called up Archie Bradley to make a spot-start against the San Francisco Giants on Monday night. With the game going into extra innings, Rubby was called upon to pitch the 10th inning and gave up no hits, while striking out 3 batters– picking up his 1st win of the season. Despite walking one batter, he looked very sharp on the mound, possibly due to letting the ball fly without worrying about saving gas for multiple frames.
Bradley, however, became a quick contributor to the innings ordeal, by racking up a lot of pitches early and lasting only five innings in Monday night’s win.
While 14 total starts is still early, the bullpen has racked up a whopping 53.2 innings, which equates to an average of 3.83 frames a game. Randall Delgado has pitched in a team-high eight games, while former Arizona State University standout Jake Barrett and set-up man Daniel Hudson have each appeared in six games out of the ‘pen to this point. Closer Brad Ziegler has already appeared in 8 games, while the sole LHP out of the pen Andrew Chafin has pitched in seven.
The 2015 bullpen turned out to be taxed in a similar manner, which was a main contributor leading to 27 pitchers taking the mound. This reality did not bode well for that squad creating and maintaining any sort of consistency.
The Diamondbacks will need the rotation to eat more innings this season in order to have a successful 2016 campaign. Every Major League team will have it’s ups and downs over a long 162 game season, but the organization’s brain trust and first year D-backs pitching coach Mike Butcher have a lot of work to do in order to turn this current trend around.