From 2010 through 2019, 58 players made at least one start for the Diamondbacks. There are four real top tier candidates in Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, Zack Grienke, Ian Kennedy, Josh Collmenter, plus one wild card candidate that really stood out to me.
Patrick Corbin led Arizona starters in games started (154), innings pitched (945.2), complete games (4), wins (56) but also losses (54). Corbin was first in fWAR with 15.6, but second in bWAR (11.1), and third in WAA (3.5). Corbin is also third all time among Diamondbacks starters in appearances and innings pitched, after Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb.
Corbin’s best season came in 2018, when was 11-7 W/L with a 3.15 ERA, 1.050 WHIP. 2.47 FIP, 133 ERA+ in 200 innings pitched, with 246 strikeouts to just 48 walks. In addition, that include his complete game shutout.
Robbie Ray led Arizona starters in strikeouts (955) and strikeout % (29.3) , and was second or third in just about every other major stat. Ray was third in bWAR (10.1) and fWAR with 12.2, second in WAA (3.9), second in innings pitched (762 and second in games started (140). Ray’s high walk rate really holds him back in these rankings, as he’s dead last among pitchers who made at least a full season's worth of starts with the team or pitched at least 100 innings.
Ray’s best season came in 2017, when was 15-5 in 28 starts and 162 innings pitched, he put up a 2.89 ERA and 163 ERA+, and lead the league with 12.1 Strikeouts Per Nine Innings. Like Corbin’s best season, Ray’s 2017 also included a complete game shutout. Ray was lucky that year though, as indicated by his 3.72 FIP
Though Greinke wasn’t here nearly as long as Corbin or Ray, he was much more valuable than either pitcher. Greinke leads by a tremendous amount in WAA with 10.6, compared to Ray’s second place 3.9 WAA. He also lead in bWAR with 16.4 vs Corbin’s second place 11.1 bWAR, but is second in fWAR with 13.7 to Corbin’s 15.6 His 8.109 WPA is nearly double that of second place Daniel Hudson’s 4.239 WPA.
With a minimum of 300 IP, Greinke leads with a 131 ERA+, has lowest walk rate at 5.2%, leads in W/L % with .655, and is just one behind in Corbin in wins with 55 to just 29 losses. Add to that, he’s third in strikeouts with 683.
Greinke’s best full season with the Diamondbacks came in 2017, when he was 17-7, with 3.20 ERA, a 147 ERA+, 1.072 WHIP, 3.31 FIP in 202.1 innings pitched. Greinke was technically better last season with a 2.90 ERA and a 154 ERA+ before being traded to the Astros.
Ian Kennedy led the NL in wins in 2011 with 21 wins to just 4 losses, and holds the franchise record for highest winning percentage by a starting pitcher. Kennedy was actually good that year too, with a 2.88 ERA and a 137 ERA+. His other years in Arizona weren’t nearly as successful with ERA’s over 4.00, but Kennedy was an innings eater, even when not at his best. Kennedy pitched 194 innings in 2010, 222 innings in 2011, 208.1 innings in 2012, and 124 innings before being traded to Padres in 2013.
Josh Collmenter is the only one of these players drafted by the Diamondbacks. Collmenter was drafted by the D-backs in 15th round of the 2007 draft, and came up in 2011. Collmenter would stick with the team through 2016, pitching 659.1 innings of 112 ERA+ baseball. Collmenter was never the ace of the staff, but he was well above average up until his last season here when was slightly below average with a 94 ERA+. His worst season aside from that had him pitch 179.1 innings of 3.46 ERA and 108 ERA+ baseball. His best season actually came as reliever, with him putting up a 3.13 ERA and 124 ERA+ in 49 games. His best season as a starter was his first season, when pitched 154.1 innings with a 3.38 ERA, and a 117 ERA+. Collmenter ranks above Corbin and Ray in terms of ERA+ and ERA, and ranks in the top five in innings pitched, WAR, WAA, and WPA. In addition, Collmenter had two complete game shutouts, one in 2011 and the other in 2012.
Here’s a guy who basically shouldn’t make the cut since he pitched 98.2 innings, but those were the best stretch by a Dback pitcher in the 2010’s. Buchholz opted out of a minor league contract with the Royals in early May of 2018. Buchholz latched on with the Diamondbacks, and made his debut for Arizona on May 20th against Toronto. Buchholz led all D-backs starting pitchers with a 2.01 ERA, ERA+ with 209, Buchholz 3.2 bWAR for that stretch ranks 10th, and is more than Taijuan Walkers 2.9 WAR in 171 IP and Zach Godley’s 2.6 WAR in 520.2 IP, who rank 11 and 12th respectively. You could probably take Archie Bradley (5.7 bWAR) and Andrew Chafin (4.0 WAR) out of that list, as most of their value has come as relief pitchers, which bumps Buchholz up even higher in that ranking to 8th most valuable starting pitcher, which is astounding considering the only other pitchers with less than 100 IP who have more than 1 bWAR are Zac Gallen (1.3 bWAR in 43.2 IP) and Luke Weaver (1.7 WAR in 64.1 IP) in 2019, and Vidal Nuno III (1.5 bWAR in 2010). That 3.2 bWAR is also more valuable than some of Corbin, Grienke, or Ray’s full season of pitching.
Who was the best starting pitcher of the 2010’s for the Diamondbacks?
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