“You’re fine,” Diamondbacks pitcher Ian Kennedy told his teammate, Tyler Skaggs, when the 21-year-old was scuffling last spring. “You’re going to be fine. You’ve still got the best stuff of any lefty around.”
Kennedy’s reassuring wasn’t needed.
On Friday, Skaggs told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf that he “never doubted” whether or not he’d get called up this season. “I knew that once I got back to pitching the way I can pitch I’d be back up here (in the majors),” the young left-hander explained.
While in the midst of a three-way battle for the No. 5 spot in the Diamondbacks’ rotation, Skaggs lost both of his Cactus League starts, tossing just nine innings and allowing a .350 batting average to opposing hitters. He was handily beat out by teammate Patrick Corbin, who went 3-0 in 25.2 innings pitched, recording a 2.81 ERA.
“I put too much pressure on myself,” Skaggs said of his spring struggles. “I think anyone in my position would have.”
But Skaggs’ shortcomings stretched into the regular season, which he began at Triple-A Reno. He had a 6.89 ERA through his first six starts of the season, recording a 2-4 record.
Then, Kennedy, who months before had affirmed Skaggs during spring training, incidentally made a way for the lefty’s call-up when he sliced his right index finger while washing a kitchen knife. Kennedy would have to skip his scheduled Memorial Day start and Skaggs would get the call-up as the Diamondbacks’ 26th man, by way of a caveat rule that allows a team to add a player to their active roster for the day of a doubleheader.
And, like Kennedy said, Skaggs would be fine.
The left-hander allowed just three hits — and three walks — to the Texas Rangers’ lineup, striking out nine hitters over six innings pitched.
“The outing against Texas really kind of set in my mind that I’m a major league pitcher and I belong up here and I can succeed up here,” Skaggs told Doug and Wolf. “I learned I can pitch up here. I learned that I can hold my own against the best teams.”
Skaggs’ second major-league outing of the season came against the MLB-best St. Louis Cardinals. He lasted 5.2 innings, giving up five earned runs on six hits.
And, despite the mediocre performance, his confidence again didn’t waver.
“It feels good to come back to show that spring training was one of those things where I was working out some mechanical problems and now I feel like I’m on top of my game,” Skaggs explained.
“I feel like I’m part of the rotation.”
For now, with Brandon McCarthy on the 15-day disabled list, he is a part of the rotation.
Skaggs’ big league debut came last season — also in the day-end of a Chase Field doubleheader — on August 22. He made six starts for the Diamondbacks in 2012, going 1-3 with a 5.83 ERA. With the exception of his debut, he was never able to pitch into the seventh inning, averaging 4.2 innings pitched per start.
Skaggs’ third start of the year is scheduled for Sunday in the Diamondbacks’ series finale with the San Francisco Giants.