For much of the 2023 season, the two-headed duo of Zac Gallen and Merril Kelly were the only above-average producers in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation.
The rest of the rotation was serviceable, but if they pitched better, an already thriving Diamondbacks team would look to be the scariest in the league.
Now, as the All-Star break looms in the near future, all three back-end rotation pieces for the team are looking to be on an upward trajectory in terms of production, with their most recent starts being some of their best of the seasons.
Diamondbacks Zach Davies is on a roll
Since the start of 2019, Davies has bounced around the league a bit and the Diamondbacks are the fourth team he has been on. Producing at just below league-average over the past three and a half years, he is the prototypical back of the rotation piece.
This season has been rough on Davies, as he has posted a 1-4 record with a 6.52 ERA over 42.2 innings. Despite his overall output being less than desirable, he has put up a number of decent to good starts, with his most recent being likely his best of the season.
Against the Tampa Bay Rays, (the team with the best record in the American League), he pitched 7 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits and striking out three.
With that start coming against such a potent team, it gives fans hope that he is now finding his groove and will climb his way back up to around his career mark of a 96 ERA+.
Diamondbacks Ryne Nelson is on a roll
Through 90.2 innings in 2023, Nelson has a 4.67 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP, numbers that fans will not be overly excited about but are numbers that make sense to send him on the bump every five days. But in his two recent starts against the division-foe San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Angels, he has looked better.
Akin to Davies' start against the Rays, the two teams Nelson has faced recently are in the thick of the playoff hunt, meaning that his pitching excellence did not come against bad offenses.
In those two most recent starts, he has gone 14.1 innings, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out 12 to just three walks. He put up a Game Score of 73 against the Angels and a Game Score of 71 against the Giants, the two best marks of his this season.
What has been a special bright spot has extended beyond just the previous two starts. After giving up three or more runs in seven of his first 11 starts, as well as giving up at least five three times, he has given up three or more runs twice and five runs once in his last six starts.
Diamondbacks Tommy Henry is on a roll
Third, and finally, Henry’s good stretch has extended to the past three games. Going 18.1 innings and giving up four runs on 16 strikeouts to five walks, it has been the best stretch of his year to this point.
In his three starts, he has gone against the Cleveland Guardians, Washington Nationals, and the Angels. While the Nationals stick out as a weak opponent, they certainly are not the worst team in the league.
While none of the three starts of this stretch are the single best performance of this season, that being his May 31 outing against the Colorado Rockies that notched him a Game Score of 78, they all point to an upward trajectory in production as the All-Star break nears ever closer.
If two of three or all three of these starters can continue at this production through the end of the year, the likelihood of a deep playoff run will only increase for a Diamondbacks team defying expectations.