24 August 2010
At this point of the season, the Diamondbacks' young starting pitchers, led by 23 year old Daniel Hudson
and 24 year old Barry Enright
, have moved to the top of the starting rotation. In fact, a ranking of the team's pitchers shows that their quality has been inversely related to their age.
Although Hudson and Enright have only thrown a combined 96 IP for the season, they have been the two most effective pitchers for the Diamondbacks since they were promoted to the majors. Hudson in particular has been impressive - going at least 7 IP in all five of his starts, and allowing a grand total of 7 ER. Hudson's K/BB ratio of 6.0 is the second best among NL starters, behind only Roy Halladay
Enright has also had very good results, going ten consecutive starts with allowing 3 ER of fewer. However, Enright has only managed to throw 7 IP once in his ten starts. Also, his peripheral stats are some cause for concern - Enright has only been striking out 5.3K/9, while walking 3.0BB/9, giving him a FIP of 4.46. Pitchers with those kinds of peripherals rarely have an ERA below 3.00, but Enright has managed to pull it off. How? Enright still has a league-leading 86.4% LOB rate
, which means that almost all batters who have managed to reach base did not score. There are always a few pitchers who manage to keep their true ERA below their FIP (Glavine, Buerhle, etc.), but usually those pitchers are ground-ball pitchers who also do a great job of holding runners and fielding their position. A pitcher with a 0.74 GB/FB ratio like Enright usually does not fit this profile. And even for those rare pitchers who manage to consistently outdo their FIP, Enright's FIP-ERA difference of 1.73 is too large to sustain.
The third young member of the Diamondbacks' starting rotation, Ian Kennedy
, has been decent overall, with some very good and very bad stretches during the season. His best month was May, when he compiled a 2.45 ERA, while his worst was July, when he shot up to 5.97. Kennedy's strikeout rates have been very good (7.6K/9), but the walks are still too high (3.3BB/9), and he's still allowing too many home runs (1.4HR/9).
After starting his Diamondback career with two excellent starts, Joe Saunders
has followed that up with three mediocre ones. He has managed to throw at least 6 innings in each of his five outings, but like Kennedy, has had some trouble with the home run ball (1.67 HR/9 as a Diamondback). No surprises here - this is exactly what to expect
from Saunders. He is a durable pitcher who will provide a good number of innings, with an ERA in the mid-4's.
The final member of the rotation, 34 year old Rodrigo Lopez
, has been steadily fading as the season has progressed. His ERA jumped to 5.65 in July and is up to 6.55 through four starts in August. It wouldn't be too surprising to see some youngsters from AAA take Lopez's slot for a few starts in September. Perhaps Matt Torra, Kevin Mulvey, or Zach Kroenke could get an opportunity, or even a veteran like recently signed Mike Hampton.