Four years ago, Trevor Cahill was an All-Star pitcher for the Oakland Athletics, winning 18 games in the process.
Tuesday night, he was getting battered around in his second minor league start since being designated for assignment by the Arizona Diamondbacks. The right-hander allowed four runs (three earned) on three hits in just three innings of work for the Reno Aces in a 4-2 loss to the Oklahoma City RedHawks.
Cahill’s performance at the big league and minor league levels this year casts a great deal of doubt on whether he’ll ever regain his prior form.
“I guess the answer is, I don’t know,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers told Doug and Wolf Wednesday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “I think we’re all baffled by it — where he was at three or four years ago in Oakland, one of the better young pitchers in the American League and had a good first year for us and it’s progressively gotten worse.
“The stuff is still there, it’s just that the consistency is not. I think we’re all scratching our heads. I really don’t have that answer. I’m hoping it will be good because we’ve got another year left with him, but only time will tell.”
Cahill’s struggles started early in 2014. The 26-year-old went 1-2 with a 6.95 ERA in five starts in the Cactus League. He went on to lose his first four starts of the season, only going longer than four innings once in that span.
Manager Kirk Gibson moved Cahill to the bullpen in mid-April, and there was some improvement — a 3.04 ERA in 23.2 innings of work — but he yielded four hits and two runs in a one-inning stint June 6 in a loss to the Atlanta Braves in his most Major League appearance.
Towers admits there was some trade interest in Cahill once the D-backs designated him.
“I did get a couple calls from other clubs. It was more similar situations where they had a player that was making similar dollars that was struggling,” Towers said. “And it was ‘will you trade your struggling player for our struggling player?’
“The couple teams that did call, I liked our struggling player better than their struggling player. We chose to keep him.”
The hope is that the light bulb flicks on for Cahill and that he can regain a spot in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation.
“We’re hoping that the time down there and having Dave Duncan and Mike Parrott in a more controlled environment, he’ll get his confidence back and not have those bad innings where everything falls apart,” Towers said. “Hopefully within a month’s time, we get him back.”