The past three years
Call to the bullpen
Delgado lost out on the fifth starter's job to Patrick Corbin, so can't really have many complaints there, but didn't have to wait too long for his chance in 2013. After a cup of coffee at the beginning of June, he was brought up again later in the month, making his first appearances as a member of the rotation on June 18. He was excellent over his first eight starts, putting up a 2.61 ERA, culminating in a three-hit shutout of the San Diego Padres at Chase Field on July 26.
However, Delgado struggled the rest of the way. Over August and September, his ERA was 5.46, largely driven by horrendous issues with the home-run. In those last couple of months, he was tagged for 17 long-balls in a mere 62.2 innings. The nadir of that problem was September 9 at Dodger Stadium, as Randall became the first pitcher since Casey Daigle's infamous April 2004 debut, to allow four home-runs during less than three innings of work. Overall, Delgado's rate of 1.86 HR per nine innings last year, was second in the majors to the Angels' Joe Blanton (1.97), among all pitchers with 100 IP.
It's worth noting this seems to have been a recent problem - his rate while with Atlanta was below one, both for the majors and minors. Oddly, it wasn't particularly a Chase Field thing. Twice as many of Randall's 24 home-runs allowed came on the road as at home, though he never pitched in the same park twice. Concerns over this may have been partly what spurred the team's pursuit of another starting pitcher,and spurred his likely move to the bullpen (along with his lack of minor-league options). Will it help? Last year, seeing batters for the first time, Delgado allowed one HR every 22.8 PAs, compared to one every 18.7 thereafter, so it probably won't hurt, at least.
Randall is making the right noises, while admitting his preference would be to stay in the rotation. "I've been a starter all of my life, so I would like to start. If they decide to send me to the bullpen it's OK. I don't have a problem with that. My job is just trying to pitch and get the outs. That's it." While there will certainly be the need for additional starters this year, it may be more difficult for Randall to transition back into a spot, if he's pitching regularly out of the bullpen. Generally, starters do need a little bit of time if they are to go from throwing one or two innings to six-plus, and the team might not be able to wait for Delgado to stretch his arm back out.
In the longer term, I'm not clear what Delgado's future may hold. Arroyo is here through the end of 2015, and with the arrival of Archie Bradley surely only a matter of months away, it doesn't seem likely there will be a long-term spot opening up in the rotation for him. He may want to make sure he gets a comfy chair in the bullpen, because the signs suggest that he may well be there for quite some time.