The Arizona Diamondbacks may very well have a problem on their hands with regards to Daniel Hudson.
It’s a good problem, though.
The more the 28-year-old pitches, the less everyone thinks about the pair of Tommy John Surgeries that could have ended his career.
Instead, people start wondering about what kind of role he could have going forward. Prior to his elbow troubles, Hudson was a frontline starter for the team, winning 16 games and posting a 3.49 ERA in 2011.
He has been a reliever since returning to the mound in 2014, though his start Sunday against the San Diego Padres in which he allowed just two hits and two walks while striking out five in 3.1 innings has led to questions about whether or not he may eventually find his way back into the rotation.
When asked about his role, Hudson said he would accept whatever the team has in mind.
A guest of Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Tuesday, D-backs manager Chip Hale said Hudson “threw great” Sunday and seemed to benefit from being able to go through a starter’s routine prior to the game.
“His fastball was alive, his changeup was good. He used a few sliders, which we’re still trying to get better — that’s something he’s going to work on all year to get better at — but his fastball and changeup are big league, number one starter-type stuff. Or closer-type stuff.”
The first-year skipper added that the team has some things in store for Hudson next year, but there is no expectation for the right-hander to rejoin the rotation this year, but it is a possibility in the future.
That makes sense, since Hudson has succeeded in that role before. But the idea of Hudson as a closer is also intriguing.
After all, with his mid-90s fastball along with that changeup and his other pitches, it’s not difficult to imagine Hudson being effective in that role.
“We definitely give it a lot of thought because it takes a big arm,” Hale said. “I think the slider needs to come into play, but Trevor Hoffman was a closer with a fastball/changeup so there’s a possibility of it.”
As with everything involving Hudson and his future, though, Hale pointed out the pitcher has to make it through this season first. And from there, closing would present its own challenges for a pitcher who has a history of arm troubles.
“As a closer you’re going to be expected to pitch maybe four, five nights in a row at times,” Hale said.
Hudson would also have to usurp Addison Reed, who is the team’s closer right now.
Acquired before last season, Reed has had just three save opportunities this season, converting two of them. He has appeared in 10 games, posting a 4.00 ERA while striking out nine and walking three in 9.0 innings.
Last season he saved 32 of 38 opportunities, and as a member of the Chicago White Sox before that he locked down 69 of a possible 81 opportunities.
In other words, any talk of Hudson as a closer has nothing to do with anything Reed is or is not doing. It’s speculation, plain and simple.
“We’re talking about next year,” Hale said. “We don’t know where we’re going to be with our roster next year. We’ve talked about Daniel being the starter, a setup guy, a closer. If Addison does what he’s done in the past, probably we have that answer anyway, internal.”