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A farewell to Randall Delgado

A piece of the most contentious trade in D-backs history, has left the building...

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at Arizona Diamondbacks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

January 24, 2013: Traded by the Atlanta Braves with Nick Ahmed, Brandon Drury, Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Chris Johnson and Justin Upton.

Randall Delgado is no more. He was designated for assignment to make room for Matt Andriese, who was traded from the Rays yesterday, and appears set to take over Delgado’s role of long relief. It was a somewhat surprising move - I was expecting the end for Jorge De La Rosa. Although Delgado’s time with Arizona was always running out, as he would have become a free agent at the end of the season anyway. Still, Randall was remarkably anonymous, given he ranked fifth on the franchise list for games on the mound, and is behind only a pair of Cy Young winners, in Brandon Webb and Randy Johnson, for seasons pitched with the team.

After the trade, Delgado started 2013 with the Reno Aces. He got his first appearance as a Diamondback out of the bullpen in June, joining the roster after Brandon McCarthy made his bi-annual trip to the disabled list. That was a brief stint, but it was the last time he would be optioned to the minors. When Delgado came up on June 18, he threw seven innings of two-run ball against the Marlins, and stayed in the rotation for the rest of the season. His year - indeed, his career as a starter - peaked on July 26 (above), when he threw a shutout against the Padres. Randall gave up three hits and a walk, needing exactly 100 pitches for the only complete-game of his career to date.

At that point, eight starts in, Delgado had a 2.85 ERA for the season, and it felt like we might have an ace on our hands. It didn’t end up that way, though Delgado was almost exclusively a starter his first season, making 19 starts in 20 appearances. His overall numbers weren’t outstanding there, with an ERA+ of 91 in 2013, and a FIP of almost five. The team signed Bronson Arroyo the following winter, and Delgado moved to work in the bullpen as long relief [he is one of five pitchers with both a complete-game shutout AND a save for the team. Can you name the others?] That’s where he spent the next five years, with occasional spot-starts, most recently June last year, tossing five shutout innings against the Phillies.

Here are some other highlights or memorable moments from Delgado’s time with the Diamondbacks.

  • Aug 2, 2014: Delgado is the chosen instrument of wrath for Kirk Gibson, hitting the PiratesAndrew McCutchen after Paul Goldschmidt had his hand broken by a pitch the previous night. This caused some to label Arizona “the dirtiest team in baseball.”
  • Aug 13, 2014: Randall gets both a W and an L the same day, pitching both ends of a double-header in Cleveland. He allowed a run in the day game, then worked a scoreless 11th in a 1-0 victory for the nightcap.
  • Apr 16, 2015: During a game at AT&T Park, a seagull bombed Delgado with a chicken finger (below). Unfazed, Delgado worked two innings and got the win as Arizona beat San Francisco 7-6, in twelve innings.
  • August 26, 2015: A return to the rotation is mooted for 2016. “In Spring Training Dave [Stewart] and Tony said they’d like to see him as a starter, so he’s going to be thought of in that way,” said manager Chip Hale. Nothing ever comes of this.

For the first four seasons, Delgado was a real work-horse, culminating in a 2016 season where he appeared 79 times for the D-backs. Only one player has matched or surpassed that, Oscar Villarreal pitching in 86 games for us in 2003. Perhaps, like Villarreal, that was too much? For having been robustly healthy to that point - his only DL stint with Arizona was three weeks in 2015, having turned his ankle while warming up before a game in Seattle. But the year after his near record-setting usage was very different. His campaign abruptly ended after allowing four runs in less than an inning on July 15, and Delgado was subsequently diagnosed with a strained elbow flexor.

While he seemed to have recovered from that by spring training, an left oblique injury then reared its head, and Randall needed, effectively, an entire pre-season’s worth of rehab. He missed the first 89 games this year, eventually returning to the majors eight days short of a year after his last outing. After seven mediocre innings, with velocity down and more walks than strikeouts, the plug was quickly pulled by Mike Hazen. His time here ends after 242 appearances (29 starts), with a 4.14 ERA (100 ERA+) and a 25-19 record. Delgado’s nineteen relief wins stands third all-time for Arizona, behind Brad Ziegler (21) and Byung-Hyun Kim (20). No-one on the current roster has more than seven.

Randall was never an All-Star, and was hardly unjustly overlooked with regard to the recent 20th anniversary team (he didn’t even crack our top 50 Diamondback players). But he was the kind of pitcher every team needs. Delgado went about his business with little or no fuss and, in general, provided solid effectiveness at a very reasonable price. His six seasons in Arizona cost the team a total of below $7 million; for comparison, this is less than half of what the Rockies are paying Wade Davis and his 106 ERA+ for this year alone. If Matt Andriese can be as effective for the D-backs over the next three seasons, I’ll be happy.

The five pitchers with both a complete-game shutout AND a save for Arizona are Delgado, Josh Collmenter, Patrick Corbin, Trevor Cahill and Brian Anderson