I was one of the thousands who showed up early at Chase for his home debut, to watch The Routine. It was rather more impressive than his actual outing. As Winston Churchill said, "I cannot forecast to you the action of Bauer. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." The most eagerly-anticipated pitching prospect, likely in Arizona history, finally reached the majors and... Well, he struck out more than a batter per inning! Unfortunately, he walked almost as many, and the overall results were underwhelming. It's clear that something happened to send his stock with the club plummeting: what that was, and whether it was legitimate, we'll probably never know. Grade: D
It seemed that Collmenter was going to be Enright 2.0 at the beginning of the year - a starter who had come out of nowhere to have an unexpectedly good season in the rotation, then implode back into who we thought he was. April was awful, as batters swatted Collmenter around to a .316 average and 9.82 ERA, resulting in his demotion to the 'pen. However, he flourished there, and was even called upon for some further spot outings, particularly around the All-Star break. Those went a good deal better, Collmenter putting up a 2.84 ERA over seven starts, allowing more than two runs just the once. Grade: C
The first of the trio of highly-touted pitching prospects to reach the majors, Corbin debuted at the end of April, getting a win in his first appearance, by allowing three runs over 5.2 innings against the Marlins. The results the rest of the way were an extremely mixed bag: he allowed one run against the Giants over seven innings in May, but the same team lit him up in September. Then, the next time out, it was another seven inning, one run outing. Corbin starts were the proverbial box of chocolates: you never knew what you'd get. But expecting consistency from a 22-year-old in his first major-league season is probably a stretch. Grade: C+
It was a rough year for Hudson, whom we had been hoping would build upon a successful 2011 campaign. Instead, Dan struggled, went on the DL in mid-April, came back a month later, struggled some more, and ended up going under the knife for Tommy John surgery at the start of July. It can only have been immensely frustrating for all concerned, but at least we can hope that the cause of the problem has been identified and addressed, leaving Hudson able to come back and return to the 2011 version who combined with Ian Kennedy to give us a great 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Fingers crossed, anyway. Grade: incomplete
The Miley story has already been well documented on this site, in multiple locations, so probably doesn't need an enormous amount of additional retelling. I can only hope that he can avoid the issues experienced by Enright and (to a lesser degree) Collmenter, in his sophomore season. I'm fairly optimistic that he can, because his peripherals seem more robust. .If you look at FIP, for example, which uses strikeouts, walks and home-runs allowed, Miley's 2012 figure of 3.15 is better than both Collmenter's 2011 (3.80) and Enright's 2010 (5.62 - yeah, FIP certainly saw that one coming!). That should make it more sustainable for 2013. Grade: A+
Completing the trio, Skaggs arrived in the majors in late August, and started brightly: he had a 2.60 ERA over his first three starts, and would have had more than one win if the offense had averaged more than two runs per game. However, the next three were less impressive, as Skaggs allowed 14 earned runs in a dozen innings. With his total workload for the season having passed 150 innings, it was probably sensible to shutdown the young prospect, who only turned 21 in July, rather than risk his arm on additional work from meaningless end-of-season games. There'll be time enough for 200-inning seasons down the road. Grade: C-
The above players - with the obvious exception of Bauer, and the addition of Randall Delgado - will be competing for two spots in the rotation, the other three being Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy. Miley seems all but a lock to get one of those: you don't exactly bench the Rookie of the Year runner-up. Collmenter seems likely to be our long man out of the bullpen, and that's probably the best role for him. Hudson almost certainly won't be back until the All-Star break, and his effectiveness when he does return seems highly in doubt: he may be pitching in a year, but most Tommy John "victims" take another few months to reach full effectiveness.
As noted above, I'm expecting Miley to continue his good performances, and most of the projection systems seem to agree. After a 3.33 ERA in his rookie campaign, Bill James has Wade at 3.57, ZIPS at 3.90 and CAIRO is the least cheerful at 4.19. That works out at an average of 3.89: while half a run higher than last year, I think anything sub-four would have to be regarded as satisfactory, especially from a #4 starter. The question of who gets the final spot is one worthy of more extended examination, so I'll be looking at that down the road, in a Surveying the Post-Trade Landscape article.
Other SnakePit Opinions
soco: Did we have any other young pitcher but Trevor Bauer? Sure, say what you will about his actual numbers, I'm going to give him a super duper rainbow unicorn space wizard A PLUS PLUS PLUS.
Clefo: Miley was pretty good. Collmenter took a step back, but seems to have found a long reliever/spot starter niche. Something something Bauer Gregarious blah blah blah Kevin Towers is worse than Kefka from Final Fantasy VI herp derp... can the season start already? B
John: Miley was outstanding and nearly won ROY. Corbin showed some potential so he's a good guy to have around, but needs to take a step forward this year. After his horrendous spring and first month Collmenter got it back the second half. Skaggs was on fumes by the end of the year as evidenced by his fastball being a slowball. And Bauer was, well, Bauer. Got a good group here from which we need two to emerge next year (with Delgado being added to the mix) so I like the odds of that. For performance last year I give them a B-. For potential next year and beyond I give them an A.