ESPN: D-backs starting rotation ranked No. 12 in MLB

Jun 20, 2018, 11:47 AM | Updated: 11:52 am

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin works against the San Francisco Giants during the first...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin works against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, June 5, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Despite numerous injuries and recent ineffectiveness, the Diamondbacks rotation is still among the better staffs in baseball.

The D-backs came in at No. 12 on Jeff Sullivan’s list for ESPN of the best starting rotations, and were the eighth most elite rotation among National League teams.

“Zack Greinke keeps on losing velocity, but he keeps on succeeding. I’m perplexed by Patrick Corbin. On the plus side, he’s sixth among all starting pitchers in strikeout rate, but between starts on April 28 and May 3, he lost about 3 mph of velocity, and it hasn’t come back,” Sullivan wrote.

The rotation had been a strong point for the D-backs through the season’s first two months. In June, midseason pick-up Clay Buchholz leads the rotation in ERA at 3.57. Patrick Corbin and Zack Greinke have both struggled with ERAs of 4.63 and 5.60.

As Sullivan noted, the decrease in velocity might be catching up to both pitchers.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and I’m worried something’s not right. This is a volatile ranking. If Corbin’s OK, the Diamondbacks have enough pitching. But if Corbin is a ticking time bomb, this team isn’t overflowing with pitching depth,” Sullivan wrote.

On the plus side for the D-backs, they do expect Robbie Ray and Shelby Miller to return soon from injuries. Ray had mixed results in April before he went down with an oblique injury, posting a 4.88 ERA and an unsightly 1.52 WHIP. If Ray can improve his command and pitch the way he did in 2017 when he was a first-time All-Star, the D-backs rotation should remain successful.

Miller will also slot back into the rotation when he returns. He’s had mostly positive outings during his rehab assignment and it will be critical he perform well upon his return. Miller threw well last April before going down with a torn UCL.

The recent struggles of Matt Koch leads many to think he’d be the first out of the rotation once Ray or Miller are ready. Zack Godley, another candidate to be demoted due to his struggles, has faired better lately as he’s decreased the use of his curveball.

Corbin and Greinke are the keys to the D-backs continued success. Corbin must return to the elite form displayed in April, and Greinke has to do a better job of limiting home runs.

The bullpen has been among the league’s best, but if overused through the summer it could lead to ineffectiveness during the stretch run.

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ESPN: D-backs starting rotation ranked No. 12 in MLB