This is the time of the major league baseball season where the term “dead arm” is frequently used.
With spring training commencing in February and play ending weeks into the football season, players tend to get burn out and experience periods of lethargy.
For that reason, the Diamondbacks, and other teams rumored, may experiment with a six-man pitching rotation. Departing from the usually five-man set, the aim is to rest pitchers but still keep them active. According to manager Kirk Gibson, pitchers would lose only one start through the month of September, but continuing piching.
“The aim is to cut down on their work load and still keep them in the rotation,” he said prior to Tuesday’s game with the Dodgers in Chase Field. “Plus, the recovery time is longer. We’ve talked about guys getting less work and we’re trying to be pro-active.”
Perhaps a major consideration is the position in the standings. The Diamondbacks can finished anywhere from third to fifth, and fifth is last in the National League West, and the hour is upon to see which players fit into plans for next season.
That includes moving second baseman Aaron Hill to third, keeping Mark Trumbo at first base and see what Ender Inciatre can do in center field. At the moment, the emphasis remains on the pitching staff and attempts to make starters more effective later in the season.
“There’s no reason to beat guys to death,” said starter Bronson Arroyo, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. “We’re not going anywhere (in the standings) so I think going to a five-man rotation will definitely help the younger players.”
While Gibson admits he has no history with a five-man rotation, he is ready to fully embrace the concept. Of the starters directly on his radar screen, Chase Anderson and Josh Collmenter receive the most attention.
Anderson, who is 7-6 and a 3.90 ERA, has pitched 92 innings and Gibson wants the right-hander to pitch deep into September. That hasn’t happened in his brief, professional career but the organization wants to see how Anderson will react to conditions into September.
The expectation with Collmenter is a different.
A starter on and off since starting the 2011 season with Arizona, Collmenter’s best role is that of a long reliever. Since the downfall of starters Trevor Cahill and Randall Delgado early in the season, Gibson moved Collmenter into the starter rotation,
For 2014, the native of Homer, Mich. has appeared in 27 games but started 22 contests. Coming in his next start this Friday night at home against Colorado, Collmenter has thrown 137.2 innings, the most since he started 24 games and pitched 154.1 innings in 2011.
Around the Diamondbacks’ clubhouse, the concept of a six-man rotation met with approval.
“I have not experienced a six-man rotation but it couldn’t hurt,” said catcher Tuffy Gosewisch. “It’s not a bad idea and I’d like to see something like that.”
Regarding composition of a possible six-man rotation in September, Gibson said left-hander Andrew Chafin, who started one game earlier this month for Arizona, would likely be in the mix as well as Delgado.
One pitcher not likely to don Sedona Red during the September call-up is right-hander Archie Bradley, who will pitch in the up-coming Arizona Fall League.
For now, Gibson added, the six-man rotation is subject to Reno Aces’ fortunes, the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate. While the Aces’ season ends Monday, they could qualify for post-season play and that, Gibson pointed out, would alter immediate plans for instituting the six-man rotation.
THE FALL LEAGUE IS COMING
On Tuesday, rosters were announced for the Arizona Fall League.
All 30 major league teams are represented over six teams. The Diamondbacks are part of the Salt River Rafters and the club includes members from the Rockies, the Astros, the Twins and Marlins organziations.
Representatives of the Diamondbacks on the Salt River roster are right-handed pitchers Archie Bradley, Enrique Burgos, Kaleb Gleck and Jimmy Sherfy, catcher Peter O’Brien, infielder Brandon Drury and outfielder Evan Marzilla.
Play begins in early October and Salt River plays its home games at the spring training stadium shared by the Diamondbacks and Rockies off of the 101 and Via de Ventura in Scottsdale.