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Who'll Replace Armando Galarraga In The Diamondbacks Rotation?

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Lost in all the noise of the past 48 hours, is the irony in the title of the book written by Armando Galarraga and Jim Joyce - which hit book-stores the exact same day as the former's little dust-up with the media. The cynical may view this as some kind of masterful sales ploy. But as the dust settles over one of the more remarkable falls from grace in recent baseball history, dawn rises on a Diamondbacks team which suddenly finds itself in need of a fifth starter.

Remember the time in the off-season when we were wondering about all that rotational depth? Well, that has all gone: injured (Zach Duke), ineffective (Barry Enright) or incomprehensible (Galarraga). What does the team do now?

The first question is, when might we get Zach Duke back? He has been recovering from a broken hand sustained when he was hit by a comebacker in spring training, and it has been a slow return since then. The last solid word directly from the pitcher was almost two weeks ago, when he said "The hand feels great, the arm feels good, my body feels good." There appears to have been no setbacks since, and in his last extended spring training appearance on May 14, he threw 47 pitches. Two more starts were suggested as necessary, which would make him ready to come off the DL on May 29.

Assuming that schedule is maintained would mean the replacement is needed for a pair of outings too. Saturday 21st against the Twins at Chase, then probably Friday 27th in Houston - the off-day next Monday doesn't really have much help the situation, only pushing back the anticipated start by a day. However, one wonders if the team might now curtail the rehab assignment a little, figuring that even if Duke can only go 75 pitches or so, that might be better than the alternatives. After all, we saw from Josh Collmenter against the Dodgers that 75 pitches can be more than enough for a W - as long as you throw strikes.

[Update] Duke threw today for Visalia, so assuming he throws again on the 23rd, can then come back on the 28th. The off-day does make a difference then, as the Diamondbacks can use Kennedy on his normal rest for the 22nd and 27th. That would push back the need for a fifth starter by a day, just in time for Duke to show up. It looks like only a single spot-start, on the 21st against Minnesota, will be necessary for the team to find.

Here are the main contenders for the spot, in alphabetical order.

Barry Enright. Sent down to Reno a couple of weeks back, his ERA in the majors was 6.49, more than half a run worse than Galarraga's. Has cut back on the walks in Triple-A - he has only issued two in 11 innings - but his other bete noire, the HR has followed him, with three allowed, and his overall ERA is basically the same with the Aces, at 6.55. Pitched six innings Tuesday night, so would be working on short rest if he was recalled for Saturday.

Aaron Heilman. There hasn't been much to suggest that Heilman's chance to start lasted past Opening Day, as he was overlooked in favor of bullpen colleague Collmenter when the team needed someone to replace Enright, despite a clear superiority in experience. Since coming back off the DL, Aaron hasn't conceded a run, but he worked last night, which seems to indicate he'll be staying in the bullpen again.

Micah Owings. While it's nothing to write home about, at 4.85, Micah possesses the best ERA of any of the current Reno Aces rotation, and at 27:9, owns a decent K:BB ratio too. Has perhaps been a victim of Reno, since his ERA on the road is 3.52, more than three runs better than when pitching at home. Has the most major-league starts of any contender, albeit with a 5.11 ERA - and, what the hell, could probably also solve our first-base problems. Last pitched May 15.

Wes Roemer. Coincidentally, on the night Galarraga was conducting his act of self-immolation, Roemer took a no-hitter into the eighth for Mobile - finally losing it to former D-back Rule 5 pick, James Skelton. In eight starts, Roemer has pitched 52.2 innings, and allowed only 36 hits, holding batters to a .196 average. A glittering K:BB ratio of 53:7 helps his case too - but these are Double-A opponents he has been facing.

None of the above. It's possibly the team may simply decide to work through it with a collection of bullpen arms instead. For instance, send Heilman out there for the first three innings, get a couple from Sam Demel or Juan Gutierrez and then follow through from there. With Hudson pitching on Sunday, and an off-day Monday, they should then have a chance to recover. But if Heilman were to struggle, it could go belly-up quickly.