Joe Saunders On The DL: Is It Trevor Bauer Time?

April 14, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Josh Collmenter (55) in the dugout during the third inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

As noted earlier this afternoon, Joe Saunders has been placed on the DL with a shoulder strain. Does this mean Trevor Bauer will be getting called up? If so, when might his first start take place? If not, who else might the Diamondbacks use?

There's a couple of factors involved here. Firstly, we don't know how long Saunders will be on the disabled-list. If it's the minimum 15 days, he'd be eligible to come back at the start of July, because the 15 days start, not from last night, but from June 17, the day after his last actual start. So we're already well into that period. Additionally, there is another off-day on Monday, and that means the team could, if they wanted, simply skip Saunders spot in the rotation, and go with four starters on their usual five day's rest.

Saturday June 23 - Kennedy
Sunday June 24 - Miley
Monday - OFF
Tuesday June 26 - Hudson
Wednesday June 27 - Cahill
Thursday June 28 - Kennedy
Friday June 29 - Miley
Saturday June 30 - ???

The alternative, if they keep everyone on their normal rotation, would see Saunders' spot in the rotation coming up on June 28. Both 28th and 30th starts are on the road, in Atlanta and Milwaukee respectively, which may factor in to the other decisions. Overall, they're much of a muchness offensively - Milwaukee's OPS is .735, Atlanta's .725, both an OPS+ of 96. The Brewers are, however, a power team, trailing only the Rockies in home-runs. The Braves are an outfit who hit ore for average than power.

Either way, though, it does look as if the Diamondbacks will need another starter, even if Saunders spends the bare minimum of time on the DL. Who might the starter be?The obvious answer - especially if you listen to Keith Law - would be Trevor Bauer, but I suspect the decision may well depend on the seriousness of Saunders' injury. If a replacement is only needed for one start, I'm not sure the team would necessarily want to bring Bauer up for that, and could prefer to wait for an extended opportunity to present itself. Other possibilities?

  • Josh Collmenter. While he struggled horribly in April as a starter, allowing 20 earned runs in 18.1 innings, he has been an awful lot better since being moved to the bullpen. Including last night, he has a 1.59 ERA after the switch, with a K:BB ratio of 24:5 in 22.2 innings. Another possible factor: Collmenter has absolutely killed Milwaukee in his starts. Including the NLDS last year, he has allowed one earned run in 21 innings, on only eight hits, with a K:BB of 16:3. Admittedly, some of that was against players no longer present, but the current Brewers have a line of .190/.244/.333, a .578 OPS.
  • Patrick Corbin. He was the last man to be called up when Arizona needed a replacement starter. Corbin made five appearances for the D-backs, in late April and into May, after Daniel Hudson went on the disabled list, going 2-3 with a 5.27 ERA. It might work against him that he was rather worse in his three road starts, posting a 7.80 ERA. However, he has been pretty solid in Reno, with a 3.86 overall ERA, and a 3.60 ERA on the road - though of course, having Reno as your home park will tend to do odd things to pitchers' stats.
  • Trevor Bauer. Has been the Aces' best starter since getting promoted there from Mobile [Double-A hitters clearly only being in the way of a light snack, to the tune of a 1.68 ERA], and should be used to pitching on the road, since his last five starts have all been in non-Reno parks. Plenty of strikeouts - 52 in 42 innings - but also plenty of walks (20), and a .252 average against Triple-A hitters doesn't feel all that low. On the other hand, he's Trevor Bauer, and has been triggering squeaks of joy from AZ fans since we drafted him.

We probably won't know for a bit. Bauer is scheduled to pitch on Sunday for Reno, in Salt Lake City, but even if he does, that wouldn't rule him out - it could just mean the team will skip Saunders' spot and use him for the Saturday game instead. Of course, if Bauer doesn't pitch tomorrow, that'd seem to be a clear indication that he'll be with the team on Thursday. Corbin's next start is Tuesday, and again, a non-appearance there would likely mean he will be called up. Jack Magruder seems to think it is most likely between those two:

Though Steve Gilbert quotes Kirk Gibson this afternoon as saying, "It's to be determined." If I'd to hazard a guess - and that's all I've got - it would probably be Corbin, if this will be just a spot-start, but if Saunders will be down for any length of time, then it could well be time to start ramping up those Bauer Facts. Where it'll get really interesting, is if Saunders' replacement pitches lights-out, forcing the team into a difficult choice when Joe is ready to return. Still, that'd be a pretty nice problem to have.

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