06 April 2012
In one year, things have really changed for the Diamondbacks' pitching staff. One year ago, the team was trying to pick between Zach Duke, Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, and Aaron Heilman for the back end of the rotation. The bullpen was coming off a historically bad season in 2010, and was hoping for improvement from newcomers J.J. Putz and David Hernandez. As we head into the 2012 season, the Diamondbacks now have five reliable starters (Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill, Joe Saunders, Josh Collmenter), plus several exciting backup options in Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Wade Miley. Similarly, the bullpen has become an asset for the team, and has a quality pitcher in every slot.
Following up the projections for the hitters, here are my predictions for the Diamondbacks' pitchers for 2012.
Kennedy is coming off a stellar season in 2012, including a incredible 12-1, 2.11 ERA in the second half. He's expected to be the ace of the staff again this year.
Hudson had a fine year in 2011, but has room for improvement in two key areas: 1) First Inning - Hudson allowed 27 runs (22 ER) in the first inning in 33 starts last year, by far his worst inning of the game. 2) Two-Strike Counts - Hudson had some trouble putting batters away last year, and actually allowed more hits when he was ahead in the count than when he was behind.
Cahill has seen his strikeout rates rise for three straight years, while his home run rate has gone down. That's a good trend, and Cahill has continued to be one of the leading ground ball pitchers in baseball.
Saunders continues to pitch better than his FIP, perhaps due to his ability to get lots of double plays. He did have trouble with right-handed batters in 2011 (.810 OPS), but was very tough on lefties (.580 OPS). I think he's starting to decline, but hopefully he can be decent for another year or two.
|2009 (Hi A)||145.3||8||3||4.15||1.25||9.4||3.4||0.5||2.96|
|2010 (Hi A)||15.0||2||0||2.40||0.93||12.6||1.8||1.2||2.73|
Collmenter was the biggest surprise on the pitching staff last year, showing better control than he had ever had in the Minors. He had a rough spring, but held off Corbin, Bauer, and Skaggs for a rotation spot. But it wouldn't be a surprise if the league catches up to his unusual delivery and high 80s fastball in 2012.
Putz was very effective in 2011, racking up 45 Saves to go with his team-leading 2.17 ERA. He's an excellent closer when he's healthy, but his health is always a little bit of a concern.
In 2010 with Baltimore, his ERA as a reliever was over two runs better than as a starter, and in Arizona, he continued to show that he belongs in the bullpen. He settled nicely into the 8th inning setup role, and also filled in for Putz as closer when needed.
Saito has had an ERA below 3.00 for all six years that he pitched in the Majors. Unfortunately, at age 42, his health is a problem, and he will start 2012 on the Disabled List with a calf injury.
Ziegler is outstanding against right-handed batters, holding them to a .188/.242/.221 line last year. Unfortunately, lefties had an .889 OPS against Ziegler, so he must be used carefully.
Breslow came over from Oakland in the Jarrod Parker/Trevor Cahill trade during the offseason. His numbers have been getting worse over the last two years, so there is some cause for concern. Surprisingly, he's been equally effective against righties (.648 OPS) and lefties (.640 OPS) in his career.
|Joe Paterson (L)||IP||W||L||ERA||WHIP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||FIP|
Paterson made the team as a Rule 5 pick, and did a very good job as a situational lefty. He held left-handed batters to just a .574 OPS, and was pretty good against righties too, allowing them just a .709 OPS.
Shaw became a key pitcher for the Diamondbacks in 2011, often getting called in the 7th inning as a bridge to Hernandez and Putz. He should fill a similar role in 2012, but he needs to keeps the walks down.
|Wade Miley (L)||IP||W||L||ERA||WHIP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||FIP|
|2010 (Hi A)||80.3||4||5||3.25||1.47||5.6||4.1||0.1||3.50|
Miley was very good in AAA last year after a poor start in AA Mobile, and then was reasonably effective as Arizona's 5th starter late in the season. He needs to improve his strikeout and walk rates if he wants to be considered for a starting slot in the future, with Bauer, Skaggs, and Corbin coming up quickly through the Minors.
|2011 (Hi A)||9.0||1||2||3.00||1.22||17.0||4.0||1.0||2.20|
Bauer only made seven regular season starts in the Minors last year, but he could be ready for the Majors very soon. He has shown outstanding strikeout rates in the Minors, but does need to cut down on the walks.
|Tyler Skaggs (L)||IP||W||L||ERA||WHIP||K/9||BB/9||HR/9||FIP|
|2011 (Hi A)||100.7||5||5||3.22||1.14||11.2||3.0||0.5||2.50|
Like Bauer, Skaggs was dominant in the Minors last year. It will be interesting to see whether he or Bauer (or Patrick Corbin) gets the first call-up if Arizona needs an extra starter.
Here's the summary for the entire pitching staff.
As a group, I have the team allowing around 660 total runs, right about the same as the 2011 team. If the offense scores around 740 runs as predicted, that should lead to a season with around 88-92 Wins.