Josh Collmenter, Jeremy Hellickson and Rubby de la Rosa have been inked in to rotation spots to start the season. Trevor Cahill seems virtually certain to join them, if only because he has no minor-league options left, there's no obvious spot for him in the bullpen, and the team is on the hook for $12 million to him. If not the best situation for the Diamondbacks, it is what it is, and he'll be given the chance to raise his value, at least initially. But beyond that, there are a number of other candidates, some of whom have mostly performed solidly this spring. Here are the five top candidates for the apparent final spot, in alphabetical order, with their stats through yesterday.
Likely still the front-runner for the role, and has been since before the games begin, GM Dave Stewart saying, back in February, "You have to strongly consider him as part of our rotation." His performance since then has been solid, even though he has been working on adding a two-seam fastball to his arsenal this spring with the aim of getting more ground-balls rather than home-runs. As he put it, "Ground balls don't go over the fence." In the middle of the month Chip Hale said "If we were to break right now, he'd be one of our five for sure," but is that still the case?
Despite being somewhat dissed by Dave Stewart, who said the prospect was "not ready," Bradley has had a much better spring that in 2014, when he walked six in only 8.1 innings. He seems to have learned to trust his stuff, throwing more first-pitch strikes. He said, "I made it a main point this spring to just attack guys. If I'm going to get beat, I want to get beat instead of walking guys and letting them get on base for free. I'm just going to continue to do that and keep working at it." His curveball has also been working nicely this spring, which helps keep hitters from sitting on the fastball. But service time considerations will also factor into his fate.
That's some gaudy BA against, WHIP and K-rate for Delgado, who was in the rotation on Opening Day last year, but then lost his spot before the end of April. He has been throwing multiple inning in spring, but perhaps not enough to be able to make the jump to start. However, shoewizard mentioned Delgado did throw extra pitches in the bullpen after yesterday's outing, so it's still possible. Randall said, "I feel like right now I can throw a lot of innings, you know, three, four, but it depends on them -- the way they want to use me one day, the next day. I'll be ready." As last year's long reliever on Opening Day proves, opportunity may still present itself. even if Delgado is in the bullpen.
Like Delgado, Hudson will be on the roster somewhere. Derrick Hall raved about him: "His velocity has been up to 96. Typical Daniel Hudson. I mean, the ball's moving, he's got command, he's got control, he's got confidence out there." Of course, what would Hall say? Hudson threw 49 pitches yesterday, and will get the start tomorrow at Salt River Fields, so that's something to keep an eye on. He would probably be looking to get up around 70 or so, if he's still in the running. Daniel said, "I'd like to be able to go out there 85-90 pitches, but I think every day is going to be different based on how I feel."
As mentioned in the game recap, may well have crossed his own name off the list with today's outing - not included in the table above - which saw five hits, two walks and five earned runs in two innings. That will likely outweigh any edge from being the only left-hander with a shot; indeed, even if another left-handed bullpen slot opens (say, if Matt Reynolds isn't ready), Ray doesn't appear obviously to have out-performed Vidal Nuno or Andrew Chafin in that battle. He and Allen Webster seem destined to start the season in the minor leagues, and will need to battle their way back up from there.