Searching for stability in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation

PHOENIX – The situation facing decision-makers of the Arizona Diamondbacks is whether the glass is half-filled or half-empty. Both judgment and resolution which is the starting rotation are far from resolved.

Over the first month of the season, only right-hander Zac Gallen has produced the results worthy of a club whose desire is to challenge for their division lead. Otherwise, Merrill Kelly, who started two games for Team USA in the recent World Baseball Classic is inconsistent, a strained left oblique forced Zack Davies into a prolonged rehabilitation, Drey Jameson was dispatched to the minors, and Madison Bumgarner was designated for assignment in late April.

The latest attempt at stability occurred on April 24 with a new addition.

That’s when Mike Hazen the general manager and field manager Torey Lovullo inserted lefty Tommy Henry in an attempt to gain some strength. That resulted in an awkward scenario in which the organization departed with two starters within a five-day period. In that span, Jameson was dispatched to AAA Reno and Bumgarner was cut loose into the desert.

Starting against Kansas City on April 24 in Chase Field, Henry lasted until the fifth and left with a 4-2 lead. Short of the required five innings for a victory, the former University of Michigan starter told reporters he was not disappointed with the exit.

“Pitchers always love to try and lobby to stay in,” he said. ‘I just tried to get as many outs as I could. It was not worth the argument to stay in, but I’ll save my bullets for another time.”

After the Diamondbacks snapped a modest two-game losing streak with a 5-4 win over the Royals on April 24, the reviews on Henry bordered on the political. Short of anointed Henry in a permanent spot in the rotation, Lovullo said the lefty was inconsistent but landed pitches with an acceptable curve ball.

“We are looking for consistency,” Lovullo said. “When young players come up here from triple-A, we expect them to execute. Some organizations bring players along slowly at this level, but we’re different. We expect players to be ready and perform at a high level.”

Look no further than two days later.

That’s when Gallen continues to raise the bar and give the Diamondbacks the kind of consistency which Lovullo craves. In slamming the door on Kansas City, Gallen turned in 6.1 brilliant innings, raised his record to 4-1, and dropped his ERA to 2.15. In the process, he’s recorded 28 straight scoreless innings and addressed the notion he is “locked in.”

“I don’t buy into this notion because you can you get compliant,” he said. “Ideally, you would like that to last your whole career, but that’s not going to happen. For me, I’m trying to understand why things are going well. If I can understand why things are going well that, will give me the ability to repeat and carry on as long as possible.”

With the remainder of the rotation in flux, Gallen cannot expect to carry this team as the only significant and productive starter.

That could change.

On April 29 against the Rockies, Kelly seem to right his sinking ship. With a solid victory over the Rox, the right-hander turned in six strong innings, allowed one run, walked just one hitter, and gained his second win of the season. That was an improvement from his previous start in which he walked five in an eventual loss to San Diego.

While one game does turn around a set of maladies, Lovullo now preaches consistency for Kelly and others in the rotation. Now, it’s up the Kelly, Gallen, Henry, Ryne Nelson, and a fifth starter whom Lovullo has not yet identified to provide that strong effort.

The Diamondbacks are in “a win-now mode” and challenging for their division lead. Anything less than production and success at this point will not likely be tolerated.

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