Arizona Diamondbacks find a place for Tommy Henry

PHOENIX – The decision came neatly by default.

Given traditional conditions and circumstances, the betting line had left-hander Tommy Henry fighting his way through the minor leagues and hoping to receive a good look during subsequent spring training appearances. For a player drafted during the seventh round of the 2019 draft, the legitimate chances for Henry to gain separation from others fighting up the food chain appeared highly unlikely.

For the Arizona Diamondbacks, those conditions and circumstances turned favorable for Henry. Instead of languishing in the minors and dreaming of the call to The Show, Henry became the beneficiary of luck and good fortune.

During the next few seasons, the 25-year-old native of Portage, Mich. would have likely had that “cup of coffee” and part of a revolving door of call-ups. Instead, Arizona decision-makers were forced into a tough situation and that was an immediate need for help in the starting rotation.

With only Merrill Kelly, Madison Bumgarner, and Zac Gallen as reliable, two spots in the rotation, for nearly the entire season, remained vacant. Manager Torey Lovullo tried to plug that hole with since-traded Luke Weaver, Humberto Castellanos, Zack Davies, Tyler Gilbert, Corbin Martin, Caleb Smith, and Taylor Widener.

Then, on Aug. 3, the organization decided to place trust in Henry and the lefty was recalled from AAA Reno. In four stars since the recall, Henry is even at 2-2 and his ERA, dropped from 4.15 on Aug. 14, and now stands at 3.57. Coming into his next start this Friday night against the White Sox in Chicago, Henry has neatly fallen into place as a starter and Lovullo told reporters during the team’s last homestand that there are no plans to move Henry.

“He’s continuing to show what he can do here,” Lovullo said before Henry’s last start on Aug. 19 against St. Louis. “He’s getting the ball every fifth day for us, and we want him to go up there and charge through a game plan. That’s our expectation. He is as good as going up and relaxing, being able to slow the game down, throw pitches and repeat his delivery as I have ever seen in a young pitcher up here. I don’t think I’ve seen a pitcher as young as (Henry) come up and do this as well as he has. I know it’s always a challenge. Your heart is racing, and he seems to have great mound presence. So, he will keep getting the baseball.”

In each of his four starts, Henry seems to grow in confidence and in production. While Lovullo and Brent Strom, the Arizona pitching coach, has kept Henry around the 90-pitch limit in his starts, the number of hits allowed and runs surrendered remain impressive.

Henry’s last start against the Cardinals on Aug. 19 in Chase Field was clearly his best effort. After allowing a first-inning home run to Paul Goldschmidt, Henry settled into a highly competitive zone. Over the next 4.1 innings, he allowed five base runners and left trailing 1-0. Despite getting the loss, Henry lowered his ERA and told reporters he is developing a strong comfort zone at the major league level.

“Each day, I’m trying to make a conscious effort to settle in a little bit more,” Henry said after his Aug 19 start against the Cardinals. “I’m creating deeper relationships with people around me, the coaches, and feel a little more familiar with everything. Each day, it’s a positive in that direction and I think that makes everyone else play better.”

Over his next three starts, Henry will be exposed to playoff contenders, including the White Sox, Phillies, and Brewers. Against these competitive teams, his education should take a dramatic turn, and production, over these starts, could foreshadow a constructive future.

Final stop … The Diamondbacks conclude their current trip with three in Chicago against the White Sox. If last weekend in Chase Field was a reunion with Paul Goldschmidt returning to the desert, the Diamondbacks will catch up with another important contributor from the 2017 team which won the NL wildcard game. Outfielder A. J. Pollock, who hit .277 in 637 games over seven seasons with Arizona, is currently leading off and hitting .236 for the White Sox.

In the pitching match-up for the series, Henry (2-2, 3.57 ERA) will open for the Diamondbacks and draws veteran righty Johnny Cueto (6-4, 2.58) as his mound opponent. For Saturday, look for lefty Madison Bumgarner (6-13, 4.53) to start for Arizona, and Sox manager Tony La Russa is undecided. For the series finale on Sunday afternoon, righty Merrill Kelly (10-5, 2.87) opposes righty Dylan Cease (12-6, 2.27). The Diamondbacks then return home for a seven-game home stand against the Phillies and Brewers.

Related Articles

Back to top button