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Heilman back off DL, Enright Optioned To Reno


The Arizona Diamondbacks announced today they have reinstated right-handed pitcher Aaron Heilman from the 15-day disabled list and optioned right-handed pitcher Barry Enright to Triple-A Reno, according to D-backs' Executive Vice President and General Manager Kevin Towers.

Heilman, 32, was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career on April 15 (retroactive to April 14) with right shoulder tendinitis and missed 18 games. Prior to his stint on the disabled list, he posted a 12.15 ERA (9 ER in 6.2 IP) with 2 walks and 7 strikeouts in 4 games with the D-backs. Over parts of nine Major League seasons with the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs and D-backs, Heilman is 32-45 with a 4.34 ERA (190 ER in 601.1 IP) with 247 walks and 522 strikeouts in 449 games (25 starts). Since 2006, he is the lone reliever to post five straight seasons of at least 70 relief appearances after making the transition to the bullpen in May 2005.

Enright, 25, posted a 1-3 record and 6.49 ERA (25 ER in 34.2 IP) with 15 walks and 19 strikeouts in 6 starts with the D-backs. Over parts of two Major League seasons with the D-backs, he is 7-10 with a 4.58 ERA (68 ER in 133.2 IP) with 44 walks and 68 strikeouts in 23 starts.

Reaction after the jump.

The obvious question is, what does this mean for the rotation? Is Heilman going to get a chance to start? Or does this mean that Josh Collmenter will be moving into the rotation, with Heilman simply slotting back in to the bullpen, where he was before getting injured? There's no word on that as yet, and there's not any hurry for a decision. The off-day on Monday means that we won't need a fifth starter again until Saturday 14th - they can keep the other four on regular rest and just skip Enright's slot entirely.

Jack Magruder reckons it will probably be Collmenter, Tweeting that "Heilman is no longer a starter." Certainly, Collmenter has performed very well since his promotion from Reno,  In 12.1 innings of work, he has allowed eight hits and - this is probably key - one walk, only two runs scoring against him. Now, that may not continue forever: his BABIP of .219 will certainly regress towards major-league average (.289 at the moment). But the aversion of Kevin Towes and Kirk Gibson to walks is well-known, and Enright has walked 15 in 34.2 innings. We saw that in action last night, when three of the four walks Barry allowed ended up coming round to score.

You can't afford to do that when you are also fanning less than five batters per nine IP, and to complete the Trifecta of Trouble, also give up home-runs at a well-above average rate. Enight's HR/9 IP is 1.82, both for his career and this season, more than twice the NL rate of 0.88. As a result of these issues, it has largely been more a question of "when" rather than "if" Barry was sent down to the minors. Even if he had performed better, Zach Duke's return, perhaps later this month, would have spelled trouble, given Enright was the only member of the rotation with minor-league options left.

It's far from the end for Enright. He only recently turned 25, and was hauled up from Double-A to the majors, in the wake of the Dontrelle Willis experiment, so skipped Triple-A entirely. Reno may not be the friendliest of environments for a fly-ball pitcher to work, but it's just another challenge for Enright, whose attitude has always been among the best of any of our players. It's unlikely he'll be able to strike out many more guys, and probably won't suddenly become a ground-ball pitcher - but if he can get those walks back to the 1.9 per nine IP rate he had in his minor-league career, he'll have a good chance of making it back.