31 March 2011
Following up the projections for the hitters, here are my predictions for the Diamondbacks' pitchers for 2011. As a group, I am expecting a significant improvement from last year's team that gave up over 836 Runs. I predict this year's version will improve by around 50 to around 780 runs allowed.
Although Hudson will not be the Opening Day starter, most expect him to be the team's best pitcher in 2011. After coming over from the White Sox in the Edwin Jackson trade, Hudson went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA over 11 starts with the Diamondbacks. I'm not sure if he can limit the walks and home runs as well as he did last year, but he should still be a very good pitcher in 2011.
Kennedy has the Opening Day start and should put up a season very similar to 2010's solid effort.
Saunders has looked terrible in Spring Training, so much so that Manager Kirk Gibson suggested that Saunders' rotation spot was in jeopardy, but I expect Saunders to return to near his usual form in the regular season.
Enright earned a rotation spot with a solid spring, but he really needs to improve on his 2010 peripherals to achieve long-term success. It's very hard to be successful by striking out less than 5 hitters per 9 IP, but I think Enright's minor league record shows that he is capable of better than that. The other area of concern is the Home Runs - 1.8 per 9 IP is just too many for long-term success. Enright still managed a 3.91 ERA in 2010, but that was because he finished in the Top 5 in the NL in both LOB% and BABIP, two stats that probably will drift toward more the league average. I think Enright will take a step forward in 2011, even though his ERA will probably end up higher than in 2010.
Galarraga held off Aaron Heilman for the fifth starter's position, and will have several weeks to show he deserves to stay in the rotation, until Zach Duke returns. Galarraga is an extreme fly-ball pitcher, which is tough for a pitcher in Chase Field. Like Enright, he needs to bump up the strikeouts and reduce the walks and home runs if he wants to stay in a big league rotation.
Duke is out for several weeks with a broken hand, but is expected to be back in the rotation when healthy. He is a ground-ball pitcher, and the Diamondbacks are expecting that Duke will get better results with a solid defense behind him, compared to what he had in Pittsburgh.
When he's healthy, Putz is very, very good, as he showed in 2007 and 2010. But he wasn't healthy in 2008 and 2009, and there is a lot of uncertainty about him. He only pitched a couple of innings in Spring Training, so it's hard to tell how effective he will be. Putz has declared that he is ready for the start of the season, but it's really anyone's guess at this point.
|2010 - SP||42.1||1||5||5.31||1.58||5.7||6.0||1.1|
|2010 - RP||37.0||7||3||3.16||1.27||10.9||3.4||1.0|
Hernandez showed much better results coming out of the bullpen in 2010, and that is where the Diamondbacks plan to use him. The walks are a concern, but the high strikeout numbers should move him into the 8th Inning set-up role, and possibly as the closer if Putz is unavailable.
Demel is a hard thrower who gets ground balls, and will probably be used in higher leverage situations in 2011 than he was in 2010. Despite the high ERA, Demel's peripheral stats were all very good in 2010, as well as throughout his minor league career.
Heilman was not able to win the fifth starter's position, and will probably be used as a long relief/swing man in 2011. He was very effective from May-July in 2010, before having a 5.11 ERA in August and a 8.49 ERA in September/October.
Gutierrez was terrible for most of the 2010 season, but had a very good last two months of the year - 1.42 ERA in August and 1.46 in September/October, going 12 for 12 in Save Opportunities. Unfortunately, that strong finish didn't carry over to Spring Training, as Gutierrez gave up 18 Hits and 13 ER in 10 IP. It's not clear yet what his role will be in 2011, but most Diamondbacks' fans would prefer not to see him in crucial situations.
Mickolio earned the final bullpen spot over Esmerling Vasquez. Mickolio has shown he can get a lot of strikeouts, but he also gives up too many walks. He will need to pitch well to keep his spot when Duke returns from the DL.
Paterson will be the team's only lefty in the bullpen. He has an unusual delivery and has had good success against left-handed batters in his career. In the minors in 2010, he held LHB to a .216 AVG and struck out 36 out of 112 LHB he faced. In the Arizona Fall League last year, he faced 21 LHB, and allowed only 2 Hits while striking out 11.
Team Pitching Summary
Looking at these 13 pitchers as a group, the projections show a total of 677 Earned Runs. Estimating about 60 unearned runs brings this total to around 730. Then adding in another 80 Innings for injury callups would bring the estimated runs allowed to around 780. That would be a decent improvement from the 813 runs allowed in 2010. If the team scores around 750 Runs as projected here, that would lead to a team record of around 77 Wins.