EDIT. Just saw on Twitter, Jon Duplantier put on IL with shoulder inflammation and Stefan Crichton called up. So that rather upsets the ol’ applecart...
The Diamondbacks rotation is in flux. This has been brought on by a combination of factors, including injury to Luke Weaver, and previous poor performance by Zack Godley, opening up two spots in the rotation.
Those spots have been filled by Taylor Clarke and Jon Duplantier, with sub optimal results in terms of team W-L as well. In fact, just looking at the 16 games started by these three, the team is 6-10 in those games.
All three of them have successful relief innings as well, but the table below is only looking at their efforts as starting pitchers.
Shortly after being removed from the rotation, he continued to struggle out of the bullpen. However recent improvements to his mechanics, (not falling off the mound so badly being the most obvious positive change) have helped him improve greatly over the last couple of weeks. In fact over his last 6 relief outings, dating back to May 24th, and covering 13.2 IP, he has allowed only 1 run , on a solo HR. He’s walked just two and K’d 8. So perhaps he has found a home in the bullpen.
However this good stretch has prompted calls for him to be returned to the rotation, in part due to a couple of rough starts by Clarke, which I will address below. It should be noted that the team still has not helped him solve his throwing/fielding problems. When the team takes Pitcher Fielding Practice, they have the 1st and 3rd basemen come in well in front of the mound, and field any bunts. Godley simply does not even field bunts in PFP’s. They’ve given up having him do that completely. And in one of his recent outings, after running over to 1st base to take a flip from Christian Walker, instead of spinning to check the runner who had advanced from 2nd to 3rd to make sure he wasn’t going home, he never turned at all and just flipped the ball back to Walker who then checked the runner and would have made the throw if necessary. This is something that can be exploited in either relief or starting of course.
The other issue with Godley is the fact that when he faces a hitter the second time, whether it be as a starter , or even in relief, he’s really getting hammered.
He started off well in his first two starts, going 6+ IP in both, allowing just 4 ER in 12.1 IP. He was then faced with a very tough three start stretch: A road start in Coors Field, a home start against the offensive juggernaut that is the LA Dodgers, and another road start in the band box that is in Philadelphia.
The Coors start was a disaster, lasting just 2 innings and giving up 5 runs in a game the DBacks lost 11-10. He held his own in the LA Start, giving up 3 runs, 2 earned in 5 IP, giving his team a chance to come back. But the bullpen allowed 6 runs, and the offense never got untracked, leading to a 9-0 loss. And then in his most recent start, on a record setting night where the two teams combined for 13 homers, he lasted just 3.1 IP and gave up 4 runs , including two homers.
I was personally complaining in the game thread that he was nibbling and not attacking the zone, although considering how the ball was flying out, and how the subsequent pitchers fared, (with the exception of Godley), perhaps my judgment was a bit harsh that night.
That’s a pretty challenging 3 game stretch for any pitcher, especially a rookie. So it should not be surprising that he struggled. Still, three of his five starts have been pretty good, and it seems a bit premature to pull him from the rotation. That said the biggest issues with Clarke is he’s not striking out enough batters and he’s only induced one GB DP. He needs to be able to do one or the other with more frequency to limit damage and shorten up his innings.
His next start is scheduled for Saturday in Washington against Steven Strasburg. The Nationals are playing much better lately, and hit for an .783 OPS at home, 52 points higher than their road OPS. So it’s not going to get any easier.
It wasn’t great to see the words “dejected” being used to describe DUP’s frame of mind in Steve Gilbert’s recap but understandable given the circumstances. In his three starts so far he has thrown 77, 71, & 76 pitches, completing 5,5, & 3 IP. Simply put, he needs to show he can get to 90+ pitches, and into the 6th inning very soon. Failure to do that will continue to put too much strain on the bullpen.
He’s thrown strikes 64% of the time, which is good, and walked just 4 in his 13 IP. But he’s gotten hit harder than he’s used to, especially yesterday, giving up 16 hits including 5 doubles & 2 homers. He’s facing major league hitters, and they are going to hit mistake pitches like that.
He’s going to have to reach down and find some more grit to overcome some early adversity. It is also somewhat perplexing to see his velocity where it’s at. He came into yesterday averaging 92.4 on his sinker and 92.7 on his four seamer. Now both are showing at 92.2, so his velocity was obviously down a little further yesterday. Something to keep an eye on, especially as they try to push him up over 90 pitches.
Is there a trade brewing ?
As was reported earlier, the team was considering bringing in Mike Leake. Although that trade fell through, Mike Hazen has said that he would like to add a starting pitcher. There was even speculation that the team could look to bring in a starter now that they could then flip at the end of July if they fell out of the Wild Card race. What’s never discussed however, because it’s just not knowable, is what such a difference making starter would cost in terms of young controllable talent out of the minor league system or even off the major league roster. But given the current circumstances with the rotation, we should not be surprised if some kind of move is not forth coming soon. However making a trade is not in the poll option as we don’t have any clear options in front of us that we can reasonable include without being completely speculative
What should the Dbacks do with rotation ?
This poll is closed
Reinstate Zack Godley to rotation, demote Clarke
Reinstate Godley, demote Duplantier
Keep Godley in Pen, Stick with the Rookies in rotation