When MLB analysts rank the best pitching staffs in the league, the Arizona Diamondbacks never appear in any of those lists. This upcoming season is a chance for the D’backs to showcase their pitching prowess, and show the league why they deserve to be recognized.
Diamondbacks No.1 starter Ian Kennedy (2.88 ERA, 1.09 WHIP in 2011) is as good as anyone in the league. He’s the cornerstone of the D’backs rotation and he has great command of the strike zone. His 21-4 record and 24 quality starts last year garnered Cy Young consideration. In short, Kennedy is the real deal.
Daniel Hudson turned in an impressive 16-win season last year with 21 quality starts. Consistency was a bit of an issue for him as he also recorded 12 losses. But to know exactly how good Hudson really is, it’s essential to actually watch him pitch.
This guy has nasty stuff. He mixes speeds well, making hitters look foolish with a sharp, biting slider and an improved changeup that he throws off of his live fastball. As good as Hudson is, he’s still loaded with potential. It’s scary to think how high his ceiling is.
Arizona’s big offseason acquisition, former Oakland Athletic Trevor Cahill, bolstered the team’s already stout rotation. Cahill had a promising start in 2011 with six wins to start the season. He ended up having a down year overall, going 12-14 with the struggling A’s. Cahill had his best year in 2010 when he went 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA in 30 starts.
Cahill is a tough pitcher to face when he’s clicking on all cylinders. He hits his spots with regularity and he’ll always be a rough at-bat.
Young pitcher Josh Collmenter and veteran Joe Saunders round out the rest of the Diamondbacks formidable rotation.
Over the last two years, their pitching staff has improved by leaps and bounds. What was once a weak spot is now a strength of theirs. Upper management has done a tremendous job of patching up holes in the bullpen by acquiring good pitching. They have a tough middle reliever in Brad Ziegler, a lockdown closer in J.J. Putz (45 saves, 2.17 ERA in 2011), and a late-inning reliever who is also proven closer in Takashi Saito.