When the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was being negotiated, there were thoughts we might see changes to the current system of September expansion. In particular, a suggestion teams would be limited to 28 players, but with the addition of an extra slot (making 26) for the rest of the year. However, nothing came of it, and so we find ourselves in the same situation as before. Which is: any player currently on the D-backs 40-man roster can (but does not have to) be added to the active squad. [Also worth noting: today is the deadline for post-season eligibility. Players must be in an organization, somewhere, by the end of August to be part of a team’s playoff roster]
Michael already looked at some potential names who might be added, from outside the 40-man roster. So I’ll confine myself strictly to ranking the 15 players on the 40-man, who are not currently part of the squad. This does not include the players we have who are on the 60-day disabled list: specifically, Nick Ahmed, Steve Hathaway, Chris Owings, Shelby Miller, and Yasmany Tomas. Of these, Owings is probably the only one we might see by the end of the regular season. His last game was July 30, meaning he would would not be eligible to return until the final series against the Kansa City Royals. 10-day DL players are included below.
1. John Ryan Murphy
We’ve seen already how Torey Lovullo likes having a third catcher: many would say, that’s the only reason the .170 hitting Chris Herrmann has stayed on the roster. With Jeff Mathis out, the team no longer has that luxury. I don’t think they traded for Murphy with the Twins, just to have him sit in Reno all year.
2. Jeremy Hazelbaker
Hazelbaker offers a strong left-handed bat off the bench. In some ways, it’s a surprise he has not been called up previously: he put up an OPS+ of 124 over 33 games, but has not been seen since June 23, the team preferring the speed and defense of Rey Fuentes.
3. Jimmie Sherfy
The Diamondbacks bullpen has been struggling of late. Going into today’s contest, their August ERA was 5.26. Even if they have only a league-low single loss this month, that’s a serious concern. Sherfy could be a big help, and looked promising in his brief call-up, retiring all six batters faced, three by strikeout.
4. Silvino Bracho
Much the same goes for Bracho, but he needs to fix his gopher-ball problem: of the 13 hits he has allowed in the majors this season, five have left the park. He has struck out close to a batter per MLB inning (14 in 14.2 IP), and rather more with Reno (48 in 35.1), so the stuff is there.
5. J.J. Hoover
A long reliever is something the team has needed since losing Delgado. The attempt to use T.J. McFarland in that role imploded in his one-out game against Minnesota. It was interesting to see Hoover’s most recent call-up, throwing 3.0 and 2.2 innings, though back in Reno, he has returned to regular relief.
6. Socrates Brito
After playing 40 games last year, Brito seems to have fallen entirely out of favor with the new management - as above, Fuentes apparently preferred as a back-up outfield option. The problem for Brito is, Hazelbaker is a better left-handed bat as well, so there may just not be the playing time.
7. Matt Koch
Koch has been starting for the Aces, but would probably have a better ability to work out of the bullpen than the other Reno starters. He did so effectively last season, but Koch’s sole MLB appearance this year, on August 22, when he faced three batters and retired none of them, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Nor does his 9.95 Reno ERA.
8. Jack Reinheimer
With Reinheimer going to the Arizona Fall League in October, it seems unlikely he will also be called back to the big leagues in September. It was a bit of surprise he made his major-league debut this month, but this was more the result of some mad gypsy’s curse than any planned promotion.
9+10. Anthony Banda and Braden Shipley
Might as well tie these two together, since both are starting pitchers, who should probably remain as such. I would not imagine there’s much to be gained from having them up here, and trying to convert them to long relievers. That’s a role better suited for a high-K guy like Zack Godley. Though if we need a spot starter in the final week, in order to get our rotation lined up, one of these two are likely candidates.
11+12. Domingo Leyba and Ildemaro Vargas
Similarly, I think we can lump this pairing as, not likely to be needed. Even if the team is no longer getting Nick Ahmed back in the regular season, I don’t think either of these would represent an upgrade. No purpose in starting the service-time clock on them at this point. [And Michael just reminded me, Leyba is out having had shoulder surgery anyway]
13. Randall Delgado
Delgado is making some progress as he comes back from an issue with his throwing elbow. He has thrown a couple of bullpen sessions in the past week, but is still some way off any kind of rehab assignment. Certainly not going to be back tomorrow, it’ll likely be the second half of September at least.
14. Jeff Mathis
A fracture in his hand will keep Mathis out as well for at least four weeks, with the estimate 4-6 weeks. However, it may help that the damage was not to his catching hand, and if anyone can beat that time-table back, it’s Mathis. That said, his absence doesn’t seem to have hurt the team too much, even Zack Greinke.
15. Rubby De La Rosa
Not sure why he’s still even on the roster, since it was announced earlier this month that he would need Tommy John surgery. I imagine the team doesn’t yet need the roster spot. If they did, moving De La Rosa to the 60-day DL would be an obvious way to free one up.