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D-backs’ Mike Hazen: Starting pitching depth could be key in 2020

Alex Young #49 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers a second inning pitch against the St Louis Cardinals at Chase Field on September 23, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The 2020 Major League Baseball season will only be 60 games, much shorter than the typical 162. So that would mean having enough pitching to get through the year should be no problem, right?

The opposite could be true, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen told the Doug & Wolf show on Arizona Sports.

“I think that this season in some small part will be determined by your ability to have enough pitching to get through it,” Hazen said Wednesday. “Because if you lose somebody to a positive [coronavirus] test, especially a pitcher, and that sits them — I don’t know yet — but let’s say 10 to 14 days, and they’re not going to be able to do a lot while they’re sitting, and they’re going to have to come back and build their pitch count back up, you could be looking at a decent-sized absence from a pitcher.

“Position players, I think, are going to be a little bit different. I think there’s a better opportunity that they can more hit the ground running because they don’t throw bullpens, so it doesn’t require somebody else being around to help them.”

The Diamondbacks already lost Mike Leake, a starting pitcher who opted out of the 2020 season. That leaves Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver in the rotation with one spot left to fill. That spot likely will get taken by one of Merrill Kelly or young pitchers like Alex Young, Jon Duplantier or Taylor Clarke, all of whom got significant innings at the MLB level last season.

“Losing Mike Leake was a big one because he was a big piece to how I felt about [our pitching depth] going through the offseason,” Hazen said. “I think what this is now going to require is those young pitchers that you mentioned, plus there will be more of them, that they’ll be thrust into roles that they’re going to need to step up and perform.

“So there’s going to be a lot of pressure, but there’s going to be a lot of opportunity. So if you’re a young pitcher in our organization, you should feel pretty good about that.”


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