Rodrigo Lopez as starter #6? After today, it sounds a good deal more possible. He tossed three scoreless innings this afternoon at Phoenix Muni, a single to Eric Chavez being the only one of the ten batters he faced not retired. After a somewhat wobbly first outing, he has settled down, allowing one run in his three starts since, covering eight innings of work. After the jump, we'll take a look and see how his numbers stack up against the other candidates, and also praise the return of Special K, v.2009.
I was a little surprised not to see Lopez go deeper, having been hardly taxed - one batter over the minimum - during the front three frames. That may have been because we got to see two of the three main candidates for the D-backs' Webb-replacement spot in the rotation, as not only did Lopez pitch, but Kevin Mulvey showed up in the fifth inning. He got through that with no problem, but was then victimized by the infield defense, as errors by Conor Jackson and Ryan Roberts helped Oakland score four unearned runs in the sixth, after it should have been over and done. Here are the overall numbers by those two, and Bryan Augenstein, so far in spring - they include today's performances:
At this point, it looks like Augenstein has pitched himself out of any chance of a spot on the roster [he was optioned to Reno yesterday], and it's down to Lopez and Mulvey for the #6 slot, with Lopez performing better, particularly of late. And before anyone asks, it won't be Aaron Heilman. With an ERA of nine in his four outings, the reliever should be more concerned about just holding on to his bullpen spot.
On the day his new contract was officially announced, Mark Reynolds celebrated by hitting a massive homer over the billboards in left-center field to give the D-backs the lead in the second. Nick Piecoro said, "I lost it. He hit it so hard it might've disintegrated into the atmosphere," and Greg Salvatore agreed, commenting that it "may have hit a monkey in the Phoenix Zoo." After breaking his drought yesterday, it does seem Reynolds has found his power stroke, free of concerns over negotiations.
A's starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez gave the D-backs a free chance in the fourth, loading the bases on three walks without retiring a batter. However, Conor Jackson could only ground into a double-play, albeit scoring a run. Another walk later, Ryan Roberts grounded out to end the frame, but Arizona was now two runs up. Unfortunately, Bob Howry gave both of those back, allowing three hits in his inning of work. While all three were singles, once again Howry has proven much too hittable: that's now 13 given up in 6.1 innings of work. Neither he nor Heilman have been impressive in spring.
We took the lead in the sixth, Reynolds adding a double to his homer. After a week where it seemed they could so no wrong, Mark was pretty much the sole hitter to have any success this afternoon. Up until the eighth inning, by which point Reynolds had already gone, he was responsible for two of the three hits, and six of the seven total bases of offense - Gerardo Parra's single was the only other contribution. Cole Gillespie added another single late on, but this was an afternoon the Diamondbacks' batters will want to forget, not least for the 13 strikeouts on the day.
TJ Beam and Zach Kroenke mopped up the last chunk of the game for Arizona - the latter was not good again, allowing three more hits and a run, meaning it's ten hits and six runs in 5.2 innings. Nick Piecoro writes about the fight for spots at the back of the bullpen. There may be an extra spot open early on, as we only need four starters. Assuming so, Nick reckons "Right now, I’d guess they would go Zavada and Vasquez, but if Norberto keeps it up, perhaps he bumps out Zavada." Kroenke doesn't rate more than a passing mention, and today won't have helped his cause any.