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2018 D-backs vs. 2019 D-backs: Pitchers we lost

Some we missed, others... Well, not so much.

MLB: Pittsburgh Pirates at Texas Rangers Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

In the first part, we looked at the position players lost by the D-backs for 2019, and discovered that, save perhaps for Goldschmidt, few contributed anything of significance to their new teams in 2019. Now, it’s time to do the same for the pitchers. As with the position players. we begin with the players who were part of the 2018 team, but were not in the Diamondbacks organization for 2019. Then we’ll move on to look at those who were (for part or all of the season) included in both roster. And finally, we run the rule over the new arrivals, who did not contribute in 2018 (they may have been part of the organization, such as prospects).

The table below lists the pitchers in the first category, those who were on the D-backs at some point, but left or were traded away, and so didn’t take the mound for Arizona in 2019. I’ve given both their bWAR last year and this, so we can assess whether or not they were a significant loss to the team.

Pitchers lost

Name 2018 2019
Name 2018 2019
Patrick Corbin 4.6 5.7
Clay Buchholz 3.2 -0.3
Brad Ziegler 0.1
Troy Scribner 0.0
Jake Barrett -0.1 -0.2
Randall Delgado -0.1
Fernando Salas -0.1 0.0
Jorge De La Rosa -0.3
Kris Medlen -0.3
Brad Boxberger -0.7 -0.1
Jake Diekman -0.8 0.2
Shelby Miller -1.1 -1.0
Total 4.4 4.3

This balance-sheet is considerably closer than the one for position players, whose production cratered from 8.7 bWAR to 1.2 bWAR. Anchored by Patrick Corbin, this year’s version stood up reasonably well. Though it was surprising to see how many quit the game or were unable to make it to the majors. Brad Ziegler was the biggest name, but Randall Delgado’s eight-year MLB tenure resulted only in an indy-ball contract after being released by the White Sox. [He did end up getting back into the Yankees’ minor-league system, though didn’t pitch after July 17] Jorge De La Rosa was signed by the Rockies to a MiLB deal too, but was released without appearing for them.

Let’s take a deeper dive into some of those who did return elsewhere, and see how their performances stack up.

Brad Boxberger

The man who started 2018 as the Diamondbacks’ closer had a rough 2019, being released by not one, nor two, but THREE different teams. He started off by saving the Royals’ opening day win, but that was the only one he’s convert. He was released from his $2.2 million contract with Kansas City at the start of July, having posted a 5.40 ERA over 26.2 appearances, with a mediocre K:BB ratio of 27:17. First Washington, and then Cincinnati, took a chance on him, but clearly neither team liked what they saw, as they both also let Boxberger go without appearing in a major-league game. He was below replacement level in both 2018 and 2019; the lower figure this year was partly due to his lower innings thrown.

Clay Buchholz

Voted unsung hero of the Diamondbacks last year, Buchholz had a great campaign, sadly brought to an end by a right elbow flexor strain. That was enough to cast a shadow over his chances of re-signing here, since it was the same area which made him miss almost all 2017. He ended up on a one-year, $3 million contract with the Blue Jays. Health concerns proved valid, though it was a shoulder injury which cost him half of 2019. He had a 6.56 ERA over 12 starts, so passing seems to have been wise. Buchholz doesn’t feel he’s done though, and has no interest in the minors. “I feel like I’m capable of pitching as well as I did five or six years ago. It’s not about money. It’s about considering myself a major league pitcher.”

Patrick Corbin

Corbin was always going to be a loss, and unlike Paul Goldschmidt, actually was better for his new team this season. Though his ERA did increase by one-tenth of a run, the increased offensive environment meant that so did his ERA+, going from 133 to 141. Overall, he was worth over a win more in 2019. However, that came with a sharp increase in cost, from $7.5 million to almost $13 million, and that’s going to keep increasing for the next couple of years. His peripherals were also a bit shaky, his K:BB ratio dropping from 5.13 with Arizona to 3.40 in Washington. That’s by no means bad, but Patrick is now in his thirties, and there is a real possibility the decline may continue.

Jake Diekman

He posted an improvement almost as big as Corbin, though this was largely due to him having been really sucky for Arizona in 2018. He gave the D-backs a 7.53 ERA in 14.1 innings, after coming over from the Rangers, in a deal for which Arizona overpaid by sending... Well, anyone with a pulse. [Prospects Wei-Chieh Huang and Joshua Javier, to be exact] He ended up in Kansas City alongside Boxberger, and was just about serviceable there. He had a 4.75 ERA there, before being traded to the Athletics at the deadline, and was slightly better in Oakland, with a 4.43 ERA. He even saw post-season action, retiring the only batter he faced in the AL wild-card game loss to the Rays.

Shelby Miller

And, breathe... I don’t know about you, but I had nightmares about Miller signing with the Rangers and re-discovering the mojo he apparently lost after being traded to Arizona. It felt like when Brandon Webb tried to come back after being let go by the Diamondbacks, also with the Rangers. Fortunately, Miller had a 9.51 ERA in eight starts for Texas, got sent to the bullpen, wasn’t much better there, and ended up getting released on July 4. Happy Independence Day! Two weeks later, he signed for the Brewers, but never made it out of their minor-league system, and was released before rosters expanded. So, guess it wasn’t us after all...

The next batch of comparisons, we’ll be looking at the position players who appeared for Arizona both in 2018 and 2019, and how their production matched up across the two seasons.