23 March 2010
The Diamondbacks have repeatedly stated that with Brandon Webb expected to miss the first few weeks of the season, the 5th starter position would be filled from within the organization. With Bryan Augenstein optioned to AAA, the competition is now between Rodrigo Lopez and Kevin Mulvey, with Lopez the leader right now. Lopez has had a decent spring so far, with a 3.60 ERA in 10 IP (11H, 2BB, 7K, and 2 unearned runs). But remember, this is the same pitcher who had a 5.70 ERA in 30 IP for the Phillies in 2009, and who missed almost all of 2008 with injuries. Lopez has had some success in the past, such as in 2004 (14-9, 3.59 ERA), and his Fielding Independent ERA has often been in the mid 4s. In the years where Lopez has struggled, he's had trouble with the HR ball, allowing over 1.5 HR/9 IP in both 2003 and 2006, and seeing his ERA shoot up to 5.82 and 5.90, respectively. Will that happen to him again in Chase Field? Both the CHONE and ZIPS projection systems have him with a projected ERA of 5.00, while Baseball HQ projects a 5.90.
It's worth taking a look at some other pitchers who might be available cheaply. First on the list is Chad Gaudin, who was waived by the Yankees today. Gaudin made 25 starts between the Padres and the Yankees last year, combining for a 4.64 ERA between the two. His actual stats were much better in NY (3.43) than in San Diego (5.13), but his FIP numbers were much closer. Gaudin's problem last year was walks, as he allowed 4.6/9 IP, although he did strikeout 8.5/9IP and allowed less than 1 HR per 9IP. He didn't pitch well this spring with an 8.68 ERA in 9.1 IP, and wasn't needed with the Yankees depth at SP. But his projections are a little better than Lopez (CHONE - 4.72, Baseball HQ - 4.44), and his high strikeout, ground-ball style (44% GB vs. 36% FB) might be a better fit for the Diamondbacks than Rodrigo Lopez.
A few other pitchers who are out of options and could be waived during Spring Training include Tim Stauffer (Padres), Sean Gallagher (Padres), Eric Stults (Dodgers), Charlie Haeger (Dodgers), and Jeff Suppan (Brewers). Former Diamondback Yusmeiro Petit was also waived by the Mariners last week, and is another name to consider, although his fly-ball style is a bad fit for Chase Field.