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2023 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews: #19, Tommy Henry

Tommy Henry: Better than MadBum

Division Series - Los Angeles Dodgers v. Arizona Diamondbacks - Game Three Photo by Chris Coduto/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Overview

  • Rating: 5.54
  • 2023 MLB Stats: 5-4, 17 G (16 GS), 4.15 ERA, 35 BB, 64 K, 89 IP
  • 2023 MiLB Stats: AAA 1-0, 4 GS, 6.33 ERA, 8 BB, 22 K, 21.1 IP
  • Date of Birth: July 29, 1997 (26 years old)
  • 2023 Salary: Major-league minimum
  • 2024 Status: On 40-man roster, two options remaining

Voting overview

2023 review

Tommy Henry was drafted by Arizona in the 2nd round (74th overall) of the 2019 MLB Amateur draft out of the University of Michigan. After spending 2019 with Hillsboro in A Ball, Henry moved to AA Amarillo in 2021 before splitting time between AAA Reno and the MLB club in 2022. After being considered for the 5th spot in the rotation during 2023 Spring Training, he was optioned to Reno on March 20th.

Henry was the direct beneficiary of MadBum’s release, moving into the vacated spot in the rotation on April 24th against the Royals. Before landing on the IL on July 30th due to elbow inflammation, he made 17 appearances with 16 starts (6th most on the team), with an ERA+ of 105 (3rd best among starters). The Diamondbacks went 10-6 in his starts, half of which came with Game Scores above 50. May was his best month by far, going 2-1 with a 2.87 ERA in 5 starts (6 appearances total), while April (6.52 ERA in 2 starts) and his last 3 starts in July (10 ER in 14.2 innings) before he was placed on the injured list were cause for struggle.

His best performance came in a May 31st, 6-0 win against the Rockies at Chase, where he dealt 7 scoreless innings with 7 K’s (below). The worst starts were back to back efforts against the Nationals and Phillies in June where Henry got tagged for 5 ER while going less than 5 innings.

Henry benefited from a healthy average of 6.07 runs per start. In fact, in only 3 of his 16 starts did Diamondback hitters score less than 5 runs for him! He also had a fairly dramatic home/road split (5.05 away/3.38 home). So, all that is to say for a Diamondbacks rotation that was Gallen and Kelly/pray for something not smelly*: Henry provided some solid stretches of quality starts (occurring with some generous run support) that would be great coming out of a fourth or fifth spot in a rotation.

The news reports over his possible return from an elbow injury for a bullpen spot in the NLCS and World Series spoke positively to his ability to return without undergoing some sort of reconstructive surgery.

Fun fact, redux: SpencerO’Gara’s review from last year noted that Tommy “gave up” 0 unearned runs throughout the 2022 season. The streak lasted until his 2nd to last start of the year against the Reds on July 21st, when Nick Senzel reached on a Perdomo error in the first and scored on a Spencer Steer groundout in an eventual 9-6 Reds win.

2024 outlook

The HR and control trend that have been cited as problematic in his development as an MLB starter have improved year over year (HR/9 going from 1.91 to 1.21, BB/9 going from 4.02 to 3.54). I’m not as well versed on the developmental impact of missing out on a minor league season (2020), but it appears to me that Henry is moving in the right direction. The question remains if that improvement will show enough during spring training to earn him the #5 spot in the rotation. Otherwise, given the spots locked down in the rotation, minor league options left (2), and competition for the last spot in the rotation (Ryne Nelson, Slade Cecconi, etc.), I think that Henry may have to go another season as the emergency/injury option for the Diamondbacks rotation.

*Best I could come up with while playing off of Spahn and Sain/pray for rain…