Cactus League Game 12, Mariners at D-Backs
Taijuan Walker vs. Chase Anderson (maybe), 1:10, 710am Radio (no TV)
The battle for starting shortstop rages on, with both Brad Miller and Chris Taylor playing extremely well. Miller’s impressed on defense, while Taylor’s shown a bit more pop than expected.* As Lloyd McClendon mentioned, the fact that the decision’s so tough is a pretty good sign. The battle for 5th starter is starting to like a rout for Tai Walker. His simplified, only-using-the-stretch delivery looks effortless and clean, and he’s shown solid command. The results are small samples, but you’ve got to love the way he’s put up those results. It’s not that Roenis Elias has faltered, but at the moment, Walker seems like an easy choice.
Chase Anderson, a 27-year old righty, is in his own fight for a rotation spot. The D-Backs rotation is in flux, especially after the trade of Wade Miley, so the snakes have penciled in former swingman Josh Collmenter as their opening day starter. If Collmenter’s your nominal ace, then yeah, you’re going to have some open spots in your rotation. Anderson came up last year after a dominant seven starts in AA to give Arizona 100 innings of solid work. He throws 92, with a decent curve and one plus pitch – his change-up. His career minor league strike out rate approaches 9 per 9IP, and he maintained a fairly low walk rate as well. His issue, and Erasmo Ramirez will nod ruefully at this, is the home run. Anderson carved up the low minors, but got blasted in limited duty in the PCL. He gave up 16 HRs last year in 114 big league innings for a rate of 1.26/9IP which is quite high. Batters elevate batted balls against Anderson, and lots of fly balls in Arizona could lead to more damage in 2015. The other issue is that while his change is a legitimate weapon against lefties, his curve isn’t at that same level. That gave him some problems against righties last year in the bigs, and righties killed him in AAA in 2013 as well. Reverse platoon splits aren’t normal, and we should expect them to narrow going forward, especially as his K:BB looks fine against RHBs. But righties seem to see his FB very well, and that puts even more of a premium on command. That’s a tall order for any young pitcher, but the D-Backs don’t have a lot of options, so a rotation slot is his to lose at this point.
I should note that while MLB.com and others still show Anderson starting, Ryan Divish just tweeted out a line-up card showing Rubby de la Rosa as the starter. De la Rosa’s a righty who came up in the Dodgers system, and was then traded to Boston in the massive Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett contract dump. After a promising 2011 debut with LA, De la Rosa was only OK in the Red Sox minor league system, leading to a couple of brief call-ups. He finally got more of a chance to start last year in the Sox lost 2014 campaign, where he was as inconsistent as his teammates. This off-season, he and fellow member of the big Dodger trade haul, Allen Webster, moved to Arizona in exchange for Wade Miley. De la Rosa throws very hard, averaging 95mph on his fastball, and pairs it with a change-up (probably his best pitch) and a slider. For a guy with plus velocity and a whiff-inducing change, De la Rosa’s been strangely hittable, notching a below-league-average K% and coupling that with higher than average HR rates. There’s upside here, but then, that’s what the Red Sox thought back in 2012, and they were unable to extract much value.
1: Jones, CF
2: Smith, RF
3: Cano, 2B
4: Seager, 3B
5: Weeks, DH
6: Ackley, LF
7: Bloomquist, 1B
8: Miller, SS
9: Sucre, C
The Diamondbacks send a split squad out today, so we won’t get another look at big Cuban free agent signing Yasmani Tomas, whom Arizona’s trying to use at 3B. Reports about his defense haven’t been glowing, which has opened the door to Seattle native Jake Lamb, who starts today. Lamb, who went to Blanchet and then UW, put up great walk rates in the minors, but after never topping .500 in SLG% at Montlake, the question was always going to be about his power. A .551 SLG in the Southern League went a long way towards answering that question, and he ended up making his big league debut last year. If Tomas’ Sandovalian body and inexperience at the hot corner prevent him from earning the starting job, then Lamb will be the beneficiary.
For those of you celebrating Pi Day, have a look at this Diane Firstman post on the pitchers that have posted FIPs closest to Pi. The winner? Mickey Lolich’s 1976, the long-time Tigers right-hander’s sole season with the Mets. In almost 200 IP, Lolich’s FIP stood at 3.14165. Mike Marshall of the Dodgers and eight other teams had a *career* ERA of 3.141 over nearly 1,400 big league innings.
* Miller’s wrist, which was hit by a pitch in yesterday’s game, swelled up over night, and that’ll keep Taylor out of action today and tomorrow.