With Mike Leake opting out, D-backs feel ‘very good’ about pitching depth

Jul 1, 2020, 6:09 AM
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during t...
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2019, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The Arizona Diamondbacks had a clear-cut starting rotation heading into the 2020 season of Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, Luke Weaver and Mike Leake.

Leake, though, became the first known major leaguer to opt out of playing this year during the COVID-19 pandemic, a move that would leave many teams in a pickle.

The D-backs are not one. They had names who pitched important innings for them last season like Merrill Kelly and Alex Young still on the roster, the two of which who will likely battle for that spot in spring training.

“We feel very, very good about our depth,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said on Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo Tuesday.

“It lessens a little bit more of the traffic situation we had.”

Kelly seems to be the favorite for the job but Lovullo would not confirm who the fifth man is.

“I think Merrill Kelly deserves an opportunity to start baseball games,” Lovullo said.

The manager cited the right-hander’s strong close to 2019, when in his five September outings, Kelly allowed only eight earned runs in 33 innings for a 2.18 ERA.

“He was absolutely lights out and getting after it,” Lovullo said of Kelly.

Kelly, though, was 13-14 on the year with a 4.42 ERA over 32 starts because he was less than stellar in the other five months of the season. His monthly ERA in May, July and August were all above 5.00.

As for Young, multiple injuries put the D-backs in a challenging position where the lefty had to step up, and Lovullo said that Young “saved us.”

“He did a tremendous job and took the baseball and helped us win baseball games,” Lovullo said.

Young had a 3.56 ERA in 17 outings (15 starts) for the D-backs last season.

The D-backs report for spring training on Wednesday, where there will be a two-day period of COVID-19 testing before the actual work gets started on Friday.

Penguin Air

Arizona Diamondbacks

Tommy Henry #47 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a first inning pitch against the Pittsburgh Pi...
Kellan Olson

D-backs starting pitching stays hot, Henry’s first W takes down Pirates

Diamondbacks rookie Tommy Henry continued the strong run of form from the team's starting pitching lately in a win over the Pirates.
1 day ago
Pittsburgh Pirates' Rodolfo Castro, left, watches along with Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Austin Bar...
Haboob Blog

Pirates’ Rodolfo Castro loses phone while sliding into 3rd base at Chase Field

Now here's something you don't see very often on the diamond: a cell phone popping out of a players back pocket mid-game.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks' Cooper Hummel dives in vain for a double hit by Colorado Rockies' Connor Joe ...
Arizona Sports

Diamondbacks recall OF Cooper Hummel, option C Jose Herrera

The Diamondbacks called up Cooper Hummel from Triple-A and said they optioned backup catcher Jose Herrera to the minor league squad.
1 day ago
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zac Gallen throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the f...
Arizona Sports

Zac Gallen’s terrific outing propels Diamondbacks over Pirates

Arizona Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen dominated the Pirates with seven efficient innings on Monday at Chase Field.
2 days ago
Edwin Uceta #66 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on after an error scored Mookie Betts #50 of the ...
Arizona Sports

D-backs recall RHP Edwin Uceta from Triple-A Reno, place LHP Kyle Nelson on IL

The D-backs on Monday placed LHP Kyle Nelson on the 15-day injured list and recalled RHP Edwin Uceta from Triple-A Reno.
2 days ago
Mark Melancon #34 and Jose Herrera #36 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate a 6-4 win against the ...
Jake Anderson

Mark Melancon picks up save, D-backs rally late to win series over Rockies

Mark Melancon picked up his 15th save of the season as the D-backs rallied to beat the Rockies 6-4 on Sunday to clinch the series victory.
3 days ago
With Mike Leake opting out, D-backs feel ‘very good’ about pitching depth