The Diamondbacks will enter the 2012 season having one of the strongest pitching rotations in the game. The offseason acquisition of Trevor Cahill and the re-signing of Joe Saunders give the team a quality pitcher at every slot in the rotation.
In recent seasons the Diamondbacks have stretched their staff thin and used pitchers at higher spots in the rotation than they probably should have been. There have been pitchers more suited to be number two or three starters as the staff’s ace, and players that should be in AAA, masquerading as the fifth starter.
Billy Buckner anyone?
For the first three months of the offseason, it appeared that the Diamondbacks would again be using a variety of their minor league pitchers in the fifth spot in the rotation in hopes that they would find one that eventually sticks.
This has been something that the team has struggled with the past few seasons. Thankfully, a ticket on Southwest Airlines from Reno to Phoenix is relatively cheap.
In January the Diamondbacks re-signed Joe Saunders, in what was most likely a surprise to all parties.
The return of Saunders is important to the Diamondbacks, not just because he’s a quality pitcher to have at the number four spot, but he’s also the rotation’s only left-handed pitcher.
The projected rotation will be Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Cahill, Sauders and Josh Collmenter.
However, spring training can, and usually does, bring about some changes to a team’s makeup.
It would not be a surprise to see Cahill as the number two starter or even Collmenter as the number four man. Trevor Bauer, the third overall pick in the 2011 draft, could also work his way into the rotation.
Pitching could prove vital in the 2012 NL West division race as most of the members of the NL West have strong pitching staffs. In 2011, three NL West teams finished in the top five in the league in ERA.
Arizona’s starting rotation’s ability to keep a game within reach for the offense and their ability to stay in a game and limit innings for the bullpen will determine whether or not the team is able to repeat as division champions.