MLB Opening Day: Arizona Diamondbacks Starters Key to 2014

Arizona Diamondbacks

As opening day in America starts for the Arizona Diamondbacks six days from now, the starting rotation for the D-Backs holds a lot of promise… as well as a lot of question marks. With ace of the staff Patrick Corbin missing the 2014 season with Tommy John Surgery today and with Bronson Arroyo having a physical done due to a bulging disc, the starting rotation looks a bit different heading in to the first game. However, the starting rotation is still the key component for the Arizona Diamondbacks chances of making the playoffs in 2014. Saying that Arroyo will be a go for the D-Backs this season, here is the five-man rotation as it stands now:

  1. Wade Miley

2014 Prediction: 15-10, 3.65 ERA

The 2012 All-Star for the Diamondbacks has been tasked with replacing ace of the staff Patrick Corbin, placing him directly in the hot seat. Still, Miley has shown to be consistent, is coming off back-to-back quality seasons and is more than ready to take the reins. Coming in to his third season as starter, Miley has a 3.44 ERA over the past two seasons. Take out Miley’s brutal pitching effort last May, where he went an abysmal 1-5 with a 7.34 ERA, the pitcher posted up a quality 9-5 record with a 3.25 ERA. Miley crossed the 200 inning threshold last season for the first time in his career and given the health and inconsistent rest of the staff, he will have to cross that threshold yet again in order to save a bullpen that will surely be called upon a lot this season.  Wade again will not be the type of pitcher that will “over-power” hitters and strike out 10 a game, but as long as he can keep up his consistent and confident pitching and cut his homerun (21) and walk (66) totals down to the likes of the 2012 season (14 HR and 37 BB), expect an “ace” of a year for Miley.

  1. Trevor Cahill

2014 Prediction:  14-12, 3.87 ERA

Trevor Cahill will be one of two starters taking the hill for the Arizona Diamondbacks this season that will have the most scrutiny hanging over his head every start. The 4-year, $30 million contract he signed with the Diamondbacks meant he was supposed to be a quality number two starter for the team, however, inconsistent play over the past two years have got fans in Arizona thinking GM Kevin Towers made a huge mistake. The talent is surely there for Cahill, who at 22-years-old pitching for the Oakland A’s was named to an All-Star game in 2010, and his sinkerball has potential to be one of the best in the big leagues. Cahill is also the type of pitcher that- potentially thanks to an improved sinker- can go deep in to the game, a quality that the Diamondbacks will surely need from him this season. If new pitching coach Mike Harkey and pitching philosopher Dave Duncan can get Cahill out of his current funk and get him to pitch with confidence again, expect Cahill to return to All-Star form this season.

  1. Bronson Arroyo

2014 Prediction: 15-11, 3.76 ERA

If Bronson Arroyo can remain healthy for the Arizona Diamondbacks at the ripe old age of 37 by season’s end, expect him to be the biggest momentum swing and key to the starting pitching staff’s overall success this 2014 season. Arroyo has been a staple of NL pitching over the past eight seasons and has consistently started 33 games and pitched an average 211 innings per season. After a rough 2011 season for the Reds, the past two seasons for Arroyo have been business as usual averaging 202 IP and a 3.76 ERA. As of lately, the homerun totals given up have been of concern for Arroyo, but he will be coming from a ballpark in Cincinnati that was ranked second in home runs allowed last season and moving to a ballpark in Phoenix that was ranked 16th. In his career playing at Chase Field (6 games), Arroyo has posted a 4-1 record with a 3.20 ERA, a trend the Diamondbacks hope to see continue.

  1. Brandon McCarthy

2014 Prediction: 9-11, 3.95 ERA

Like fellow ex-Oakland A’s pitcher Trevor Cahill, this season is a big deal for McCarthy. With a $5.25 million contract last year and a $10.25 million contract this year, McCarthy is going to need to post a much better ERA than last year’s 4.53. In his two previous seasons in Oakland, McCarthy posted a stellar 3.32 and 3.24 ERA, but he only averaged a meager 21.5 games started a year. Having 7 complete games in his past three seasons, McCarthy is a strong pitcher that has potential to go deep into games, but whether he can stay healthy long enough to play a full season along with pitching with confidence will be detrimental to his success. The 30-year-old should improve this season considering it cannot get much worse than last’s. With the Harkey and Duncan helping McCarthy out, if he could put up the numbers he put up in Oakland for two years, McCarthy could potentially be the catalyst to a surprising and successful year for the D-Backs.  The potential is there, so expect a bounce-back year for McCarthy, but do not expect the world of him.

  1. Randall Delgado

2014 Prediction: 6-12, 4.10 ERA

The fifth spot in the rotation for the Diamondbacks is not set in stone this year. GM Kevin Towers and coach Kirk Gibson have never liked to throw a top prospect to the wolves to start a year, so expect the 24-year-old Delgado to get the nod ahead of young potential phenom Archie Bradley, but do not underestimate that Bradley could easily be placed in the fifth spot as the year goes on. Delgado is a young pitcher, but he certainly has a lot of potential. Before his struggles in August and September, Delgado started eight games in June and July, posting a very good 3.41 ERA including one complete game shutout.  If Delgado and Bradley cannot seem to fill the fifth spot in the rotation, Josh Collmenter can fill the role just fine and has always been a consistent spot-starter for the D-Backs in case of injuries or poor pitching performances.

The loss of Patrick Corbin- and even potentially Bronson Arroyo- is more than just a devastating blow to the Diamondbacks starting rotation. It also puts added pressure onto starting pitchers Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy to perform, two pitchers who already have a lot to prove this season. Given all of the question marks on the starting rotation going into Monday’s game, there is still a ton of potential on this staff. With newly acquired pitching coach Mike Harkey, paired with pitching guru Dave Duncan, the Diamondbacks know that the talent is there in the rotation and have two very good pitching coaches that have proven to be successful time and time again. Look forward to all five pitchers of the Arizona Diamondbacks starting rotation to be the key to success in 2014, but with those coaches mentioned in mind, if Cahill and McCarthy become the pitchers Arizona fans always thought they could be along with the addition of Bronson Arroyo, the Diamondbacks could finally get over the .500 hump and make it to the playoffs for the first time since 2011.

Commentary by Ryne Vyles,
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer for the Arizona Diamondbacks

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