Yes, he finished the season in the rotation: but then, so did just about anyone on the roster, whose count of functioning limbs passed three. Between the new arrivals (Hellickson, de la Rosa, Ray, Webster) and the young prospects, his spot seemed to be a shaky as a three-legged pool-table. As much as a 2.08 ERA, his attitude and willingness to strive for improvement, such as adding a two-seamer seems to have impressed management. Said manager Chip Halke, "What he realizes is, he's a smart enough kid to know that he needs that pitch to be a successful major league pitcher. He's going to keep working on it."
Delgado also added a pitch to his repertoire last year, bringing in a slider, and it proved a valuable addition to his repertoire. By Fangraphs' measure, it was his second-best pitch, and one he went to multiple times during his battle with AL MVP Mike Trout, which ended in Trout looking at called strike three. Could it also open the door returning Delgado to the rotation? Certainly, the numbers have been impressive: three hits and nine punch-outs over eight innings of work. It might not be enough to get him out of long relief, but in the event any starters struggle, Delgado may find his name high on the list. And then, who knows? Delgado for Opening Day starter in 2016!
Not a name you may recognize: he was the PTBNL sent by Anaheim to Arizona in the Mark Trumbo trade, and started for Double-A Mobile last year, going 6-4 with a 3.48 ERA. He got the win in the pre-pre-season game against Arizona State, with a scoreless inning, and has added five more since - allowing only one hit in the Cactus League, hitters having gone 1-for-16 against Schugel. Admittedly, that has mostly been in the latter innings, against the opposition's B-roster, but they're still professional hitters. It'd be kinda amusing if the most valuable piece in the Trumbo trade turned out not to be Trumbo, Tyler Skaggs or Adam Eaton...
Our closer has been missing from the Cactus League, after shoulder soreness before camp began. Reed is currently scheduled to get into game action next Tuesday: he threw a bullpen yesterday, and will face live hitters Friday. That will leave less than two weeks before Opening Day, but Reed reckons he'll be fine. "I think everybody is making a bigger deal out of that than it really is... I'll get five games in and be ready to go." [Also in that piece, pitching coach Mike Harkey concurs - apparently on the basis Mariano Rivera didn't need that many games to get ready. Er... Maybe not quite the same thing, Mike?] For the record, Reed had nine pre-season appearances in 2014.
And our likely substitute closer has also been absent from contests - of course, it is likely true relievers will need fewer innings than starters to get up to speed, since they don't need to be stretched out in the same way. Ziegler was scheduled to appear in tonight's Cactus League game against the Rockies at SRF, but has now been moved, for unspecified reasons, to a minor league game [Daniel Hudson will start it, so worth keeping an eye on]. It is fair comment that Oliver Perez had only five spring outings last year: however, he wasn't coming back by testing out a surgically-repaired knee. As with Reed, I'll be a lot happier once I see Brad in action.
Clearly the San Francisco Giants perceive Drury as a threat, hitting him after he had homered and doubled, driving in three runs against them yesterday. That brought his Cactus line to .435/.500/.957, leading the team in spring HR and RBI - all the while while learning to play a new position, second base as opposed to his usual one of third. That flexibility will only improve his chances, though at only 22 years old, may be better served playing everyday in the minors. He said: "I'm trying to work on my pitch selection, swinging at a pitch I want to hit, nothing that a pitcher wants me to hit early in the count. Two strikes, I'm trying to go into battle mode and just find a way to get it done."
With five of his seven hits having gone for extra bases, there are small, green shoots of hope that Trumbo's power - which slumped from a career ISO of .219 to .180 last year - may be on its way back. That would certainly be a boost to the Diamondbacks, considering Trumbo played just 88 games for us, and say his home-run total cut basically in half. What doesn't seem to have changed is his reluctance to walk: through seven games and 22 at-bats, we're still waiting for Trumbo to get his first base on balls. Though with six strikeouts, his BABIP of .312 is not unsustainable, especially for someone who hits the ball as hard as he does.
A rebound from Hill would be a huge help, if only improving trade chances without having to take on his entire salary [he's owed $24m through 2016]. Hill came into spring "ready for battle" to keep starting, and while last year, there was reason to think a wrist injury may have interfered, health no longer appeared to be an excuse. "I love where I am physically. Speed-wise. Explosive-wise. Everything got to a point where I feel like I haven't been in a couple of years." However, it doesn't seem much of a fight thus far, Hill hitting .182, with an OPS of .477. Aaron said, "Whether it's with these guys or someone else, I'm an every-day second baseman for a couple of more years." We'll see.
The line coming in to spring was that O'Brien could handle the offensive duties, but there were big question-marks over his defensive abilities. Those throwing issues appear ongoing: "During a "B" game on Thursday, there were at least four instances in which O'Brien couldn't return the ball accurately to his pitcher. " Bench coach Glenn Sherlock said, "We're working on a lot of stuff," and I wonder if this is having a knock-on effect. For this spring, O'Brien's OPS of .519 puts him behind the likes of Blake Lalli, Gerald Laird and Tuffy Gosewisch in the contest for the two catchers' spot. Over his past eight games, he is 2-for-18 with no extra-base hits and one walk.