In a move that was widely expected, Patrick Corbin will be promoted back from the Reno Aces to the 25-man roster of the Arizona Diamondbacks to start against the Dodgers this afternoon. And when I say, "widely expected," it's probably because of Tweets like this one:
Gibby tells the media that— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) August 1, 2012
@patrickcorbin11 will be recalled and start tomorrow's game.
Yes, breaking down information like the above, to provide in-depth analysis by reading between the lines - it's what we do here. However, what was not clear was how they'd make room for him. Initially, when it was announced he'd be skipping his Reno start, a trade was considered likely, but it seems he's just replacing Josh Collmenter in the rotation. Collmenter goes back to long relief, and [UPDATE] Brad Bergesen has been optioned to Reno, in order to make room for new arrival Matt Albers.
But the return of Corbin is a little odd, in a couple of ways.
Firstly, it's not as if Collmenter has been struggling as a starter: in four July appearances in that role, he threw six innings in each with an ERA of 3.38 and a K:BB ratio of 20:4 in 24 IP. Admittedly, his last start, against the New York Mets on the 27th, continued a couple of crooked numbers, and if the Diamondbacks offense hadn't put up a six-spot in the second, might have turned out differently. But it would seem to be a very quick hook, and simply due to manager Kirk Gibson preferring Collmenter as a reliever: "I just really like Josh in the bullpen. There's really no secret about it. He's done a great job as a starter. But ultimately I like him in the bullpen."
Corbin has previously been used as a starter, for five games in late April and May, after Daniel Hudson went on the DL with a shoulder impingement. The results were kinda replacement level, Corbin going 2-3 with a 5.27 ERA and a K:BB ratio of 18:9 in 27.1 innings. There was only one quality start in the list, but it was a very good one, seven innings of three-hit ball at Chase Field against the Giants, with no walks and one run allowed. When Hudson went back on the DL in late June, Corbin got the call again, but this time worked out of the pen, with better results. Over 11.2 frames in this stint, he had a 1.54 ERA with a K:BB ratio of 12:4.
However, the return of Joe Saunders from the DL after the All-Star break pushed Collmenter back to the 'pen, and Corbin back down to Reno. However, when Trevor Bauer faltered and was sent down on the 18th, while Collmenter did go back into the rotation, Corbin wasn't called up to replace him - it was Jonathan Albaladejo. Over the two weeks since, Takashi Saito and Bergesen have both been added to the bullpen, replacing Albaladejo and Bryan Shaw respectively, and the latter appeared to be a permanent replacement as a long reliever. That no longer seems to be the case, which is kinda strange.
Since his last demotion, Corbin has made three starts for the Reno Aces, the first an abbreviated three-inning one due to a rain delay. Overall, the numbers were solid: four earned runs in 15 innings, for a 2.40 ERA. Perhaps most impressively, he struck out 22 batters over that time (with three walks), so Corbin was apparently missing a lot of bats. His last outing, against Colorado Spring, did result in seven runs, but he wasn't helped by his defense, with three of those being unearned, and it was in Reno - his first two were on the road, in the rather less pitcher-unfriendly settings of Tucson and Las Vegas.
It appears to be partly those starts which have led the team to shuffle things up, and perhaps also informed the D-backs decision to stand pat at the trade deadline. Kevin Towers said yesterday, "The pitchers that were available to us, we didn’t feel they were probably upgrades over guys like Skaggs and Corbin and Bauer, who we had in here internally." This afternoon in Los Angeles, we'll get a taste of whether he's correct in that assessment.