The past three years
Effective, long-lasting relief
It's easy to forget how Collmenter re-invented himself as a reliever in 2012, having been a starter his entire life up to that point. After a successful 2011 campaign as a starter, it looked like the league had got the measure of him the next season, as he exited April with a 9.82 ERA. That prompted his move to the 'pen, and it seemed like Josh could be just another one-hit wonder, who'd fly across the sky at Chase like a meteor for a single effective season, before becoming the answer to a trivia question, like Barry Enright or Clay Zavada.
But Collmenter's literally over-the-top style turned out to play a lot better in short bursts as a reliever, hitters struggling with his unorthodox delivery, and he had a 2.13 ERA the rest of the way. Last year, he was arguably even more valuable, given all our extra-inning games, his stamina bailing the team out on numerous occasions, as he threw 92 innings, the most by any reliever in the National League [only one other, the Reds' Alfredo Simon, came within 10 frames of that] Nine times, Josh worked three or more relief innings. Nobody else in the NL had more than five such appearances, and Collmenter posted a 1.04 ERA over those games.
I'm just hoping we aren't dealing with an Oscar Villarreal situation here. He was the last bullpen arm to throw as many innings as Collmenter, working 98 in 2003. Like Collmenter, Villarreal was a converted starter, making 22 starts the year before, but the workload seems to wreck Oscar's arm. He was fit for barely thirty major-league innings over the next two seasons combined, at a 6.25 ERA, and was done in the major-leagues at age 26 [he's still grinding away, down in Mexico]. However, I'm optimistic that won't be the case, Collmenter's mechanics helping him avoid such a fate [though I wonder why, if that overhand style is so good, why more pitchers don't adopt it?]
It does look like he'll have some help as long relief in the Diamondbacks bullpen this year, with another ex-starter, Randall Delgado, joining him there, due to a lack of minor-league options. This may give Kirk Gibson the chance to have a quicker hook to send in Collmenter, if he sees his starter struggling, knowing that if there's a problem the next day, he can use Delgado in the same role. Fingers crossed, there should also simply be fewer extra innings to work: in 2013, our pitchers had 76.1 there, compared to a league median of 31.2 innings. Regression in that department should certainly help keep the miles down on Collmenter's arm..
This article is part of our 2014 Diamondbacks expectations series - check out the other entries. As we go through spring, we'll have a series of pieces looking at each of the players likely to be on the 25-man roster for the home opener. It's an open forum, to discuss expectations, hopes, fears and their potential contribution to the 2014 season.