Arizona Diamondbacks: Walker adds depth to a strong rotation

Taijuan Walker picked up his sixth win of the season Wednesday night. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports)
Taijuan Walker picked up his sixth win of the season Wednesday night. (Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports) /

With the return of Taijuan Walker, the starting rotation of the Arizona Diamondbacks may have become stronger.

If the offense for the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to up frightening numbers, the starting rotation has the potential to be an equal nightmare against opponents.

Save the break-out season of Robbie Ray and the steadiness of Zack Grienke, right-handers Taijuan Walker and Zack Godley could make this staff rather formidable.

That could likely be the case in regard to Walker. Showing flashes of why the Diamondbacks acquired the California native in the off-season and before landing in the disabled list in mid-May with a blister on his pitching hand, Walker’s return to the mound Wednesday night showed there could be few weak links in the rotation. At this point, only starter Patrick Corbin needs to raise his game to a higher level, and the lefty gets that opportunity in the Diamondbacks’ next game. That would be this Friday night at Citizen Bank Park in Philadelphia.

For now, Walker came off the DL Wednesday night in Detroit and showed that he hardly missed a beat. In going five solid innings, Walker allowed only one run and claimed a 2-1 victory. That increased his season mark to 5-2 and lowered his ERA to 3.22.

Before his start Wednesday night, Walker told that the butterflies were rampant.

"I was definitely nervous. Even warming up, I don’t know why I was so nervous. First game back, but after the first inning I felt a lot better and more comfortable."

After yielding a run in the third, Walker settled in and then turned matters over the Randall Delgado. Pitching three scoreless innings, the game was then handed to closer Fernando Rodney, who struck out the side in the ninth, and earned his 18th save. After blowing saves in the opening weeks of the season and an ERA approaching 12 runs per nine innings, Rodney, too, has settled into a grove and his ERA is now at 5.11. That represents a drop of nearly six runs per nine innings and he has earned the reputation as reliable when called.

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Save Corbin, consider numbers put up by the other four in the rotation. Coming into play Friday against the Phillies, Godley’s ERA is 2.44. Ray has an ERA of 2.62 and Greinke is 3.00. That averages out to an ERA of 2.84 among the top four starters. Toss in Corbin’s 5.38 and that could come down depending on how the lefty performs against the Phillies.

All of which have help propelled the Diamondbacks to a record of 41-26 and their best mark in franchise history after the opening 67 games. Coming into play Friday, the Diamondbacks are one-half game behind the National League West Division-leading Colorado Rockies. More importantly, the NL West is turning into a highly competitive division. With the Rockies at 41-25, the Los Angeles Dodgers at 42-26 and Arizona at that 41-26, these three teams are the only clubs with 40 or more wins in the majors. There is one exception and the Houston Astros, who are 45-22, and that’s the best mark in the majors.

Draft Recap

The Diamondbacks concluded the draft selection of high school and college players Wednesday.

Overall, the club selected 41 players. Of that number, 31 came from the college level and 10 from high school. With their picks, the Diamondbacks chose 15 right-handed pitchers, two left-handed pitchers, 12 infielders, seven outfielders and five catchers.

First round pick Pavin Smith, a first baseman from the University of Virginia, is expected to visit Chase Field, meet with players, front office personnel and the media during the Diamondbacks next home stand. That begins Friday June 23 against the Phillies.

"Arizona Diamondbacks: Power-hitting Smith taken with first pick"


The current road trip continues this weekend in Philadelphia.

One Friday night, it’s Patrick Corbin (5-6, 5.38) taking on righty Aaron Nola (3-4, 4.40). For Saturday, look for Zack Godley (2-1, 2.44) to face righty Jerad Eickhoff (0-7, 5.09). In the series finale on Sunday afternoon, Robbie Ray (7-3, 2.62) opposes righty Ben Lively (1-1, 3.00). Then, it’s on to Denver and three with the Rockies.