ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

D-backs’ Lovullo: Randall Delgado is the most prepared to start Wednesday

May 22, 2017, 4:21 PM | Updated: 5:42 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Jeff Mathis, left, celebrates with relief pitcher Randall Delgado afte...

Arizona Diamondbacks catcher Jeff Mathis, left, celebrates with relief pitcher Randall Delgado after the Diamondbacks defeated the San Diego Padres 10-1 in a baseball game in San Diego, Friday, May 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

(AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

PHOENIX — Before the start of the series against the Chicago White Sox, the Arizona Diamondbacks made a decision for the end of the series. Manager Torey Lovullo named Randall Delgado his starter to close out the three-game set on Wednesday.

Lovullo called Delgado “the most prepared guy for that moment,” referring to the hole in the rotation created when right-hander Taijuan Walker was placed on the 10-day disabled list due to a blister on his right index finger.

Delgado has not started a game since 2015.

A starter at the beginning of his big-league career, Delgado slowly transitioned into a reliever following his first season with the D-backs in 2013.

Here in 2017, Delgado has been one of the more reliable arms in the D-backs’ bullpen, which entered Monday leading the National League and ranking second in the majors with a 2.05 ERA in May.

“I’m not going to put a number on it,” Lovullo said when asked how many innings he expected to get out of Delgado. “What we’re asking him to do is go as hard as he can for as long as he can. Not change his routine, not change his game-day prep, walk into that start doing exactly what he’s been doing because he’s been locked in and throwing the ball very well.”

Delgado last pitched on Friday, completing a season-high tying three innings and earning the save in the D-backs 10-1 win at San Diego. In three of his last six appearances, he’s been asked to work three innings.

The most pitches Delgado has thrown in any one appearance this season is 52.

Overall, Delgado owns a 4.05 ERA in 26.2 innings pitched with 24 strikeouts versus five walks.

“Randall has taken over that role of being a guy that’s taken the length for our bullpen,” Lovullo said.

Coming into the season, it was expected that Archie Bradley would be the D-backs’ long-inning arm.

“Archie has migrated into a role where he’s coming in into high-leverage situations whether it be the seventh or eighth inning and getting some big outs. There’s a buzz when he comes into the game. We all feel that,” Lovullo said.

Bullpen games are rare in baseball, but they do happen. Just last month, the Rays used five relievers, including fill-in starter Austin Pruitt, to shutout the Orioles, 2-0.

“You have guys step up into situations and that’s their role and that’s what Randall’s equipped to do,” Lovullo said. “He’s going to pick up the slack because he knows somebody’s banged up, and his spot is needed and he’s going to be ready for this challenge.”

BASE HITS

— The hope is that Walker misses only one start. His placement on the disabled list was retroactive to Saturday, May 20.

“In our conversations, we’re walking through a lot of different scenarios” if Walker should be sidelined for another turn through the rotation, according to Lovullo, but for right now, “we haven’t gotten beyond Randall’s start.”

Lovullo did rule out a current starter pitching on short rest as a potential solution.

— The next step is for A.J. Pollock to pick up a bat. On the disabled list with a strained right groin, Pollock was due to play catch on Monday, according to Lovullo, who added Pollock had been limited to some very light running.

“Everything is progressing very well,” the manager said. “Is it going to happen on the 11th day that he steps in and plays a game? At this point, I’m not sure. We want A.J. back as soon as possible, but we’re not going to do it before it’s the right time.”

Pollock is eligible to come off the disabled list on Thursday.

— For the second time in his career, third baseman Jake Lamb was named the National League Player of the Week. He batted .412 (7-for-17) with four home runs and 10 RBI over five games.

“I’ve been working hard to get the bat going again,” he said. “I don’t really think anything of it; just continue to do what I’ve been doing.”

In recognition of the honor, Lamb was awarded a watch courtesy of Rockwell.

“I’m sure my Dad will like it,” he said.

— With apologies to the three games against the White Sox, the D-backs’ biggest competition this week will be between Bradley and fellow relievers Andrew Chafin and J.J. Hoover to see who milks a cow better.

“I’m just hoping that I have the faster hands,” Bradley said. “I may call a couple of farm buddies and see what they can offer me because I really want to take this trophy home.”

Wait, there’s a trophy?

“That’s what I was told,” Bradley said. “How cool of a piece would it be in my house to explain how I got that trophy.”

The cow milking competition will take place on Tuesday to help the D-backs and Shamrock Farms kick off this season’s new Grand Slam Milk Drive program, which encourages fans to text MILK to 80077 to give $5 to Feeding America to help deliver milk to local families in need.

Follow Craig Grialou on Twitter

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