Torey Lovullo has announced the order of how his starting rotation will go to begin the 2017 season. The order is Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Taijuan Walker, Robbie Ray, and Shelby Miller. Lovullo’s reasoning for this particular order is so teams don’t see a similar style pitcher on back-to-back nights. So you won’t see the two lefties Ray and Corbin or the two hard-throwing righties Walker and Miller starting consecutive games.
Greinke, Corbin, Walker, and Ray will pitch in the Giants series, which Greinke opening the season on Sunday. Corbin will go on Tuesday, then Walker on Wednesday, and Ray finishing the series on Thursday. Miller will start Friday against Cleveland. Please note the order is not necessarily who the best pitchers in the rotation are, I see it as trying to diversify looks against a team early in the season. I have Walker as the #2, Ray as the #3, Corbin as the #4, and Miller as the #5 in the rotation in terms of skill set.
My only concern with this order is when the team pitches in a series that has Walker, Ray, and Miller in it since all three rely heavily on a plus fastball to set up the rest of their repertoire. That could be a problem in the team’s third series of the year, with the team traveling to San Francisco. Greinke and Corbin are more command and control guys that can spot their fastball and use secondary pitches to finish off hitters.
On paper, the rotation has the chance to be something special but it is also heavily flawed. Greinke’s dealing with fastball decline that generally affects starters in their 30s. Corbin and Miller are coming off the worst seasons of their career which may turn out to be a statistical anomaly. Both pitchers suddenly lost control of their pitches and that led to a jump in walk rate and getting smashed on pitches in the strike zone. Ray still has the lack of a reliable secondary pitch problem that leads to long ABs and short outings. Walker was a disappointing player for the Mariners after the amount of hype he received as a prospect, although he looked very good this Spring.
If this rotation can click, the Diamondbacks could not only surprise teams by being in the thick of a pennant race, they could snatch the NL West away like they did in 2011. However, I see a scenario of injuries or ineffectiveness affecting at least one, maybe two pitchers in this rotation. The team does have depth, but not a lot of quality depth. For the team to have any chance of making 2017 a meaningful season, the team needs to hope this rotation not only stays healthy, but also each member pitching much closer to their talent level.