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ESPN MLB analyst: Trevor Cahill’s struggles are confusing

LISTEN: Tim Kurkjian, ESPN MLB analyst

ESPN MLB analyst Tim Kurkjian is like a lot of people in wondering what has happened to Trevor Cahill.

Once considered to be a promising young pitcher, three starts into the 2014 season it appears the right-hander is simply lost on the mound.

Sporting an 0-3 record with a 7.90 ERA, Cahill may be one or two starts away from being removed from the starting rotation.

It’s a surprising turn of events.

“When he was with Oakland he had great command, even as a young pitcher,” Kurkjian told Burns and Gambo on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Wednesday. “And he had really good downward action on his stuff.

“And something has happened.”

Kurkjian said he spoke with a manager who has faced off with Cahill over the last few years and he wondered why Cahill can’t locate his pitches anymore and why he’s lost movement on his pitches.

“This doesn’t make sense,” Kurkjian said. “He’s too young to have lost anything; he’s too smart to have lost anything. It’s very confusing.”

Kurkjian noted that the Oakland A’s, whom Cahill was acquired from prior to the 2012 season, rarely give up on players only to see them succeed elsewhere, so it’s possible they knew something about the pitcher no one else did.

At the time of the deal, which saw the D-backs part with Jarrod Parker, Collin Cowgill and Ryan Cook for Cahill and Craig Breslow, Cahill was a 23-year-old coming off a season in which he went 12-14 with a 4.16 ERA. However, the season before that he won 18 games and posted an ERA of 2.97.

Cahill has appeared in 61 games as a Diamondback, going 21-25 with a 4.02 ERA.

So while this year has started off disastrously, Cahill’s career numbers as a Diamondback fall pretty much in line with what he did as an Athletic.

Cahill’s next scheduled start is Sunday against the Dodgers, and as of now the D-backs say the plan is for him to make it.

But there are other options being considered, and if the decision is made to pull Cahill from the rotation, the question will become what to do with him.

“The danger with putting him in the bullpen is now he’s going to have to learn how to pitch, to get himself back together, doing something he’s not used to doing,” Kurkjian said. “A lot of times it simply doesn’t work when you put a starter in the bullpen.”

Kurkjian pointed to Phillies ace Cliff Lee, whose career appeared to be in the tank before he was sent to the minor leagues roughly 10 years ago.

“He got it all fixed in the minor leagues; he didn’t go to the bullpen,” Kurkjian said. “I’ve always worried about starters who have to try something else, try to get it figured out on the Major League level, when the best thing to do is just send them to the minor leagues, let them start, let them figure out what’s wrong.”