15 March 2010
With Opening Day three weeks away, there are still many questions about the Diamondbacks' starting pitching. Brandon Webb still hasn't faced live hitters, and is likely to start the season on the Disabled List. The team had prescribed three days of rest for Webb after he had complained that his arm felt stagnant last week. After the rest, Webb threw on Saturday and was much more optimistic
about the season. "It's remarkable how good it feels," Webb said. He threw curveballs and changeups as well as sinkers on Saturday, and said "I don't remember the last time I felt [this good]." Webb is still a week or two behind schedule, but hopes to be at full strength for the bulk of the season.
The good news is that three pitchers for the Diamondbacks have pitched very well so far - Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, and Ian Kennedy. Through March 14, the trio had pitched 14.2 IP without allowing an earned run.
Billy Buckner is still the leader for the #4 slot, and has shown some promise, with 10 strikeouts and only 3 walks in 9 IP. The bad news is that he has given up 3 HR and 6 ER during those 9 IP. In his most recent start against the Rangers, Buckner gave up a 2-Run HR to Josh Hamilton in the 1st Inning, but then settled down and shut down the Rangers through the 4th Inning. The Rangers' lineup, however, was without regulars like Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, and Nelson Cruz.
The battle for the 5th Starter is still between Kevin Mulvey, Rodrigo Lopez, and Bryan Augenstein. Mulvey faced a split-squad from the Dodgers on Saturday, and gave up 3 ER in 3 IP, with 3 BB and 4 Ks. All three runs scored on a 3-Run HR from Blake DeWitt. Mulvey did strike out 4, but he was facing a very weak lineup from the Dodgers (no Kemp, Ramirez, Martin, Loney, Furcal, or Ethier). For the spring, Mulvey now has a 5.40 ERA with 4 BB and 5 K in 5 IP.
Rodrigo Lopez got the start on Sunday in his home country of Mexico against the Rockies. Lopez went 3 IP, and was only charged with 2 unearned runs, although he did allow 5 hits and a walk to go with 3 strikeouts. For the spring, Lopez has a 5.14 ERA in 7 IP, with 10 H, 2 BB, and 6 Ks.
Bryan Augenstein had a rough outing in his first appearance, giving up 6 ER in a disastrous 5th inning against the Giants. His second outing, last Thursday against the Angels, was better, as Augenstern pitched a scoreless inning with two strikeouts, but also allowed two hits.
At this point, Augenstein seems to be in 3rd place among the contenders for the #5 spot, and will likely to start the season in the AAA rotation. Neither Mulvey or Lopez has done anything to win the spot to this point, although neither has pitched himself out of contention either. They look like the only options for the #5 spot right now. Youngsters like Barry Enright, Wes Roemer, and Bryan Shaw have impressed at times, but are still at least a year or two away.