ARIZONA: Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon McCarthy, Trevor Cahill (Archie Bradley).
L.A.: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hun-Jin Ryu, Dan Haren, Josh Beckett.
SAN FRANCISCO: Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Tim Hudson, Ryan Vogelsong.
Each team has a major question mark in their rotation. The problem for Arizona is their major question mark is above a player that still has proven nothing.
Although Greinke is an issue now, he'll be fine. Kershaw is a stud. Ryu might be the best #3 in baseball. Haren should be solid returning to Southern California. The wild card is between the ears of Josh Beckett.
San Francisco hasn't been given nearly enough credit for the Tim Hudson signing. There's no way Cain goes 8-10 when he actually had a WHiP lower than his career average, still struck out 3X as many as he walked and his average against only went up a point above his average. Even if Bumgarner comes back to Earth a little, he's not the question for the Giants. There's one question: Lincecum's fast ball. Where did it go and will it return?
Unfortunately for Arizona, there is no margin for error. There's a legitimate question for every starter. Can Corbin really handle the pressure of being the "Ace" at his age? Has Miley reached is ceiling or is there more? Is McCarthy the below-average pitcher we've seen the bulk of his career or is his excellent spring a sign of what's to come? Does Arroyo's back issue really just fade away for a pitcher with a great health record or have the odds caught up to him? None of these questions equal the big one.
Can Trevor Cahill be counted on to produce?
Tell me how Trevor Cahill pitches this year and I'll tell you if the Diamondbacks compete for the playoffs. The Diamondbacks won't compete for the playoffs if Cahill is an anchor on the staff.
Cahill has five years of experience. After five years, you know if a guy is a piece to a championship, irrelevant of his young age (26). Last year he had a 0.7 WAR. That means he barely helps his team win one more game per year than anyone you can just grab and throw into the spot.
He's had one outstanding year in his career. The other four years are enough of a sample size that it's fair to claim the great year was an anomaly. Without 2010, Cahill is 43-49 with a 1.39 WHiP and a 4.13 ERA. Last year he had fewer wins, more losses, fewer strikeouts, more walks, a higher WHiP and a higher ERA than the player Arizona gave up in the trade. Jarrod Parker is also younger, under the A's control for three years and this will be his first year making over $500,000 while Cahill has $19.7 million coming to him from Arizona over the next two years.
This is not a blog attacking Cahill the individual. I don't know the man personally. I do know there's been quite a few times over the last two years the Diamondbacks needed him to step up and hold down the fort. The majority of those times he hasn't come through.
Cahill was brought in after the Diamondbacks made the playoffs. The expectation was a playoff team needed more experience to get to the World Series and Parker was more of a "future guy." Arizona hasn't made the playoffs since and the starting rotation has been a major reason why. No, it's not all Cahill's fault. There's plenty of blame to lay around a lot of people. However, a strong choice starts with Cahill.
This is a season where every game is vital to the D-backs because the Giants and Dodgers have better players. The only way for Arizona to make the playoffs is to "grind" out wins where the chemistry beats the calculator. There are too many question marks in the 2014 rotation to expect them to pick up Cahill's slack.
If we're talking about Carson Palmer's arm the majority of August, it's because Cahill's arm wasn't able to do the job from April through July.