It appears the transition has began.
Two moves which Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson spoke about during the last home stand took shape Thursday night in San Diego.
In an effort to save vital energy and production of his pitching staff, Gibson promised to go to a six-man rotation. From the beginning of the conversation, Gibson knew who he had in mind to fill the role of the sixth starter but did not make a public announcement until the team left for southern California earlier this week.
In tapping right-hander Randall Delgado, Gibson said the organization wanted to see if the Panamanian had the make-up and quality to move into the rotation. In starting Thursday night in Petco Park, Delgado appeared to ally fears of his both his credibility to his ability to respond to challenge of starting.
Though Delgado was in the rotation at the start of the season, and started games on April 4 and April 10, he was quickly exiled to the bullpen and appeared in 37 games as a reliever.
That was before Thursday night.
Against the Padres, he was nearly perfect in the Diamondbacks’ eventual 6-1 win. Beating former teammate Ian Kennedy Thursday night represented an added bonus.
In five innings of work and a total of 61 pitches, Delgado allowed only two hits and walked no hitters. That was the first time in his brief major league career Delgado allowed no walks and no runs in the same game. The win boosted his season mark to 3-3 and lowered his ERA to a present 5.40.
Going forward, Gibson indicated there may be a seventh starter and identified Andrew Chafin, who started a game for Arizona last month against Cleveland, as a possibility. The overall aim is to focus on Josh Collmenter and Chase Anderson and give these pitchers the opportunity to start deep into September. By having Collmenter and Anderson last until the end of the season, the organization hopes to test their endurance and durability.
If the experiment with Delgado went well, then moving Aaron Hill to third base seemed to work equally. As the Diamondbacks’ second baseman since acquired from Toronto for the 2011 West Division stretch run, Hill appears to be on the organization’s bubble. Appearing as a player-without-a-portfolio, Hill could be the odd man out next spring. That’s because the forecast is to relocate Chris Owings from his traditional spot at shortstop to second.
Presently, the organization appears ready to hand the shortstop job permanently over to Didi Gregorius, whose glove has flashed all season and his bat shows signs of improvement.
Hill started Thursday night’s game in San Diego and that marked his first start at “the hot corner” since Sept. 18, 2005 with the Jays against the New York Yankees. Overall, the start was Hill’s 32nd in his career at third and the 35th game he played at that position.
The question of Hill’s future now becomes a matter of interesting speculation. By the start of next season, Hill will be 33-years-old, but also carries a significant financial commitment. Regarding Hill, the outstanding question remains whether another team would take a chance on the native from central California and that’s considering his age and contract.
For the future, he is signed for $24 million over the next two years and the Diamondbacks clearly would like to gain some value for this amount. Hill does not became an unrestrictive free agent until 2017.
Barring any off-season trades, the Diamondbacks penciled in Jake Lamb to start the 2015 season at third base and Gibson eschews the possibility of platooning Hill and Lamb. So, the future of Hill in Sedona Red will likely be an important off-season decision.
For now, the Diamondbacks have just over three weeks remaining until the final curtain call. A peak into possibilities and scenarios for 2015 has began.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN
From San Diego, the Diamondbacks took a one-hour bus ride up Interstate 5 for their weekend set with the Dodgers.
Opening the series on Friday night, the Diamondbacks will start Vidal Nuno (0-4, 3.32 ERA with Arizona) and former D-back Dan Haren (11-10, 4.28) starts for L. A. Game time is 7:10 p.m.
On Saturday, it’s Chase Anderson (8-6, 3.75) taking on the Dodgers’ Zack Greinke (13-8, 2.72) in a 6:10 p.m. start.
For the finale on Sunday afternoon at 1:10 p.m., look for Trevor Cahill (3-10, 5.06) to oppose lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-6, 3.18).
The trip then concludes with three against the Giants in San Francisco.