In the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation, are Nelson and Henry gaining separation?

PHOENIX – To make a statement, there is no time like the present.

That’s the reality facing three Arizona rookie starting pitchers. A permanent spot in the rotation is on the table, and after six weeks into the season, there appear to be no takers.

At this point, neither lefty Tommy Henry nor righty Ryne Nelson has made a definitive statement. Then, throw in right-hander Branon Pfaadt, with only two major league starts is in this mix. Should the present pattern of rotation inconsistency continue, the Diamondbacks could have a lingering issue.

While not quite a revolving door, nor the commuter line between Phoenix and Triple AAA Reno, there could be a point in the near future when a firm, definitive decision would be in order. For now, there appears to be a period of patience, however slight.

Cut at the start of the season and then brought back from Triple AAA Reno, Henry is given every opportunity to show he belongs in the rotation. Coming off his initial win of the season April 29 against the Rockies, Henry admitted, to stay in the rotation, he needs to increase his level of aggressiveness and intensity.

“When it comes down to it, you have to make pitches when it matters,” he said. “Overall, it’s about consistency. It’s how often you can be your best self. You’re not always your best but how often can you become your best self. Adjustments come with the aim to be consistent.”

Henry receives another chance to prove this criterion on Thursday night when he faces the San Francisco Giants in Chase Field. On his need to gain that final slot in the rotation, his only previous start against the Giants is of no consequence. For the record, he received a non-decision in Chase on Sept. 23, 2022.

Now, Nelson has a similar opportunity to gain separation.

Starting May 6 against Washington and like Henry, Nelson had an opportunity to open eyes. Though he came away with no-decision in an eventual 8-7 win over Washington Chase Field, Nelson’s road has been contentious. In that start, he cruised through a six-pitch first inning against the Nats and then imploded. Traversing through a 34-pitch second inning, the 25-year-old lasted only into the fifth (4.1 innings) and finished with a 90-pitch no-decision.

“I definitely have some stuff to work on and have to put guys away in big spots,” Nelson admitted. “I need to give our team a better chance to win. Overall, I’m trying to clean up some mechanical stuff and need to get more efficient with my body. I don’t think there are too many adjustments you make. Sometimes, you do it and other times, you don’t.”

To be fair, both seem to hang by a thread. While pundits declared the Arizona farm system as one of the strongest in the majors, there appear few prospects ready for promotion. As his mantra, manager Torey Lovullo constantly tells reporters pitching and defense will championship, and there is little argument.

With more than five months remaining in the season, Lovullo and other decision-makers are left with few options. With a “win-now’ attitude, patience might have to be extended, and that is not a desirable option.

George M. Cohan would be proud … outfielder Lourdes Gurriel, Jr. arrived late to the ballpark this past Monday and for good reason. “He received his United States citizenship,” said Lovullo. “It’s a pretty amazement accomplishment for him and he was excused from pre-game activity (on Monday),” Gurriel, a native of Cuba, celebrated citizenship with the brother, Yuli, who happened to be at Chase Field for a series with the Miami Marlins. Yuli is expected to gain his U. S. citizenship next year.

Monthly honors … the Arizona Diamondbacks named Double-A Amarillo infielder Ryan Bliss and High-A Hillsboro right-hander Dylan Ray the organization’s Minor League Player- and Pitcher-of-the-Month for April.

Bliss hit .410 (34-for-83)/1.050 OPS with 8 doubles, 2 triples, ­2 home runs, 14 RBI, 2 walks, 8 stolen bases and 17 runs scored across 18 games with Double-A Amarillo.

Ray went 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA (8 ER in 19.0 IP), 28 strikeouts (13.26 strikeouts per 9.0 innings), a .186 opponent average and a 0.84 WHIP in 4 starts with the Hops in April.

Homestand concludes … the San Francisco Giants come in, beginning Thursday night, for four and that concludes the current home stand. Then, it’s a nine-game road trip to Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia. The Diamondbacks return to Chase Field on Friday, May 26 to face Boston. In addition to the Red Sox, Colorado and Atlanta are in during this 10-game home stand.

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