What to do with Trevor Cahill.
Over the last two years, that is the question plaguing the Diamondbacks. In that time span, the D-backs have realized little or no value in exchange for Cahill’s huge contract. No team would want to pay the remaining nearly $4 million owed this season and $12 mil for next season.
In 2016, Cahill could earn $13 million if the Diamondbacks pick up his option. If not, Arizona is obligated to pay $300,000 in a contract buyout.
In either case, Cahill remains a player with no tangible results and even less potential.
The dilemma facing the Diamondbacks is daunting. Clearly, they overpaid based on only one season. That was 2010 when Cahill went 18-8, a 2.97 ERA for the Oakland A’s and named to the American League squad for the All-Star game.
Since, his combined record now with Oakland and Arizona is 62-64, including Wednesday’s 11-5 defeat to the Detroit Tigers before 24,174 in Chase Field. With the loss, Cahill drops to 1-7 on the season and now sports a 5.72 ERA in six starts and 21 appearances for Arizona this season. Cahill is also winless in his six starts for Arizona thus far in 2014.
While the Diamondbacks’ starting pitching of late has been creditable, the collective 11 runs allowed Wednesday represents the most the staff surrendered since they lost 12-2 to the Rockies on April 4.
The concern remains how to obtain even a shred of value out of Cahill.
On Wednesday, the 26-year-old native of Oceanside, Calif. was pulled after four innings and surrendered seven runs, three earned. Yet, he failed to pitch out of a critical jam in the fourth and a three-run, bases-clearing double by Austin Jackson was his doom.
“I left some pitches up and that hurt,” Cahill said. “I felt better this time out and, as a pitcher, you hope that they beat you instead of beating yourself.”
Cahill’s ineffectiveness again put the Diamondbacks in a precarious position. Down 7-0 into the fifth, the D-backs rallied for three in the fifth, one in the sixth and one in the seventh cut the margin to 7-5. A four-run Detroit eight inning, highlighted by a three-run homer from Miguel Cabrera, eventually put this one out of reach.
Still, the concern level for Cahill is rising to an alarming rate.
“He missed his spots and unable to get a pitch where he needed,” said manager Kirk Gibson. “He has to be more consistent.”
So far this season, Cahill has clearly been the poster child for inconsistency and his inconsistency was clearly evident Wednesday.
Cahill started the game with a 1-2-3 first inning and then the Tigers grabbed a two-run advantage in the second. Again in the third, Cahill retired Detroit 1-2-3 but in the fourth, another avalanche of five runs and eventual collapse.
Cahill is noted for his sinker and if his ball doesn’t sink, there are stormy waters ahead. Plus, there is a noticeable decline in an important aspect of his game.
“He’s lost velocity on his fast ball,” said Tigers’ DH Victor Martinez, who faced Cahill for three years while playing for Cleveland, Boston and Detroit. “He still has some movement on his sinker but he’s lost something off the fast ball.”
Perhaps that may be one reason why Cahill tends to elevate pitches. In the effort to compensate for deficiencies in an integral part of his game, Cahill’s overall execution is compromised.
Looking like a creditable major league pitcher in the first and third innings against the Tigers, Cahill dissolved into a batting practice pitcher in the second and fourth frames. In the second, three singles led to two runs and after Cahill gave up five more in the fourth, Gibson saw enough.
As well, Cahill’s ability to pitch himself into trouble must be madding to Gibson, pitching coach Mike Harkey and to Cahill himself.
“I’m not executing pitches,” Cahill said. “I’m trying to make pitches and then, whatever happens, happens.”
Before Cabrera’s homer off the left field foul pole in the eighth, the Diamondbacks climbed to within two runs at 7-5.
In the seventh, they managed to place runners on first and third, one out and Paul Goldschmidt at the plate. That’s when Tigers’ reliever Joba Chamberlain induced Goldschmidt to ground into a double play and end the threat.
“You know Goldy can do serious damage with one swing of the bat,” Chamberlain said. “I knew he would be aggressive so I threw an off-speed pitch, a curve. I was just trying to get him out and keep the lead.”
OFF TO THE LAND OF CHEESESTEAKS AND SOFT PRETZELS
The Diamondbacks left immediately after the game for Philadelphia and a weekend set with the Phillies.
On Friday night, it’s lefty Wade Miley (6-6, 4.16 ERA) opposing right-hander Kyle Kendrick (4-10, 4.87). On Saturday, Josh Collmenter (8-5, 3.64) gets the ball from manager Kirk Gibson and takes on lefty Cliff Lee (4-5, 3.67). For Sunday afternoon, lefty Vidal Nuno (0-1, 3.78) draws righty Roberto Hernandez (4-8, 4.22) as his mound opponent.
Then, it’s on to Cincinnati for three before returning to Chase Field for a 10-game home stand, beginning July 31, against the Pirates, Royals and Rockies.