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D-backs have ‘7 or 8’ starting pitchers they can lean on, Lovullo says

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Alex Young works against the San Francisco Giants in the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 26, 2019, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo has a few weeks before spring training begins and the entirety of Cactus League play to dissect his roster.

In terms of his pitching staff, there’s a lot to be sorted out, one of those good problems to have if you’re an MLB manager.

Lovullo told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station that he views the starting pitching possibilities as seven or eight options deep.

“If you look at some of our guys and our names, some young pitchers who threw some meaningful innings last year … I know that it didn’t last very long, but really for the month of August we were right in the thick of things, and we had young pitchers throwing meaningful innings. That goes a long way for me,” Lovullo said Tuesday.

“We have guys that have a ton of experience — and you know the names — young pitchers that are up-and-coming that are going to continue to learn and grow, and we love the depth of our starting rotation.”

Most obviously, the signing of veteran Madison Bumgarner in December bumped the rotation to six starting-quality MLB pitchers.

Madison Bumgarner
Luke Weaver
Robbie Ray
Zac Gallen
Mike Leake
Merrill Kelly

Weaver is coming back from an elbow injury suffered early last year. Lovullo could potentially avoid any tough roster cuts in late March if the D-backs are still working the right-hander back by easing him in via the bullpen.

Still, there are three more pitchers who stepped on the mound as starters last year. Alex Young (15 starts), Taylor Clarke (15) and Jon Duplantier (3) all contributed in an 85-win campaign.

Young went 7-5 in 2019 while producing the best ERA (3.56) and WHIP (1.18) of that trio of players, who are all in their mid-20s.

“If you can remember last year, we had to go deep into our farm system and they came out and they were fantastic,” Lovullo said. “Alex Young, I’m the dope manager who took him out with a perfect game (on July 7 against the Rockies) through six innings … he had just been building up (his pitch count). That was the quality of what came out of our system.”

Lovullo is keeping those younger players in mind knowing there was a reason Arizona turned to them last year. Injuries happen, for one thing.

General manager Mike Hazen could also have trade opportunities on his desk, especially regarding lefty Robbie Ray, who has been named heavily in trade scuttle over the past year.

Regardless of what happens there, Lovullo will have tough evaluations to comb through this spring.

“We feel like right now we have seven or eight guys who are extremely ready to step in and help us out,” Lovullo said. “We have a tough decision to make. We have several starters. We have to watch, pay attention to and make sure that we pick the five best starters moving forward and then create some depth that’s a little bit thicker than it was last year. Those are good problems.”


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