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2011 Diamondbacks Pitching Rotation Preview

Following a season of disappointing play from the pitchers for the Arizona Diamondbacks, several moves were made in the off-season to bring in pitchers to bolster the rotation while developing others already on the roster. After the addition of Armando Galarraga on Monday, here is a projection of who could make-up the 2011 starting rotation:

1.Joe Saunders, LHP: Following a trade from the Angels for Dan Haren and prospects in July of last year, Saunders won three games and lost seven as a starting pitcher for the Diamondbacks. He posted a 4.47 ERA with 64 walks and 114 strikeouts after leaving Los Angeles and looks to be the number one starter for the D-backs in 2011. Saunders’ record has only dipped below .500 in one season (2010) and he is 57-39 lifetime since 2006 while posting a 4.29 ERA. Look for Saunders to be the best option for the Diamondbacks at the top of the rotation, barring a surprise move.

2.Daniel Hudson, RHP: Hudson showed significant promise last year before he was shut down in late September with a finger injury. Hudson came to Arizona in a trade with the Chicago White Sox for Edwin Jackson in July and became a solid contributor. The Diamondbacks rookie of the year won seven starts with only one loss while posting an 8-2 record overall and a 2.45 ERA. Hudson should be the second option for the Diamondbacks as he continues his ascent and could end up as the best pitcher in the rotation by the end of the season.

3.Ian Kennedy, RHP: Kennedy is another young pitcher who should figure into the middle of the rotation next season in Arizona. Kennedy posted nine wins and 10 losses last year with a 3.80 ERA. Although his record wasn’t flashy, he did have 168 strikeouts to lead the team along with 70 walks. Kennedy figures to be in the top half of the rotation throughout 2011.

4.Armando Galarraga, RHP: The pitcher infamous for the near-perfect game in 2010 was traded to the Diamondbacks on Monday for a pair of minor league pitchers. Galarraga should be the Diamondbacks third or fourth starter after posting a four win and nine loss season last year in Detroit. Galarraga has been hit or miss over the last two seasons and his stats show it. Despite falling on difficult times as of late, he won 13 games in 2008 along with a 3.73 ERA and 126 strikeouts on his way to earning the title of Tiger’s rookie of the year. The Diamondbacks will hope he recaptures some of that 2008 magic after his move to Arizona.

5.Barry Enright, RHP: Enright debuted in a D-backs uniform June of 2010 to round out the young trio of Hudson and Kennedy as the future of the Diamondbacks rotation. Enright won six games and lost seven while posting a 3.91 ERA, 29 walks and 49 strike outs. Enright may take a few more seasons to develop into a pitcher that can crack the top of the rotation but will make a contribution to the Diamondbacks in 2011.

6.Zach Duke, LHP: After pitching in dysfunctional Pittsburgh since 2005, Duke should help the Diamondbacks this season after signing a one-year deal with an option for 2012. Duke posted a 5.72 ERA with eight wins and 15 losses last year with the Pirates while trowing 96 strikeouts and issuing 51 walks. Duke was an all-star in 2009 but fell victim to the lack of offense in Pittsburgh, posting a record above .500 in only once in his time with the Pirates (2005). The Diamondbacks hope Duke will add to the team after slumping in Pittsburgh the last few seasons.

7. Aaron Heilman, RHP: Heilman has spent the last five seasons as a reliever but may figure into the starting rotation after he was re-signed to a one-year deal in the off-season. Heilman’s last start was in 2005. Last season he pitched 72 innings out of the bullpen and was credited with five wins while posting a 4.50 ERA. Heilman is also the only pitcher in the majors to appear in 70 games per season for the last five years. Look for Heilman to compete for a back end of the rotation job or continue working in the bullpen.

8. Mike Hampton, LHP: Hampton should bring a veteran presence to a younger Diamondbacks rotation as a low-end starter possibility. The 38-year-old Hampton won seven games in Houston in 2009 with a 5.30 ERA but only pitched four innings for the Diamondbacks in 2010. Hampton seems to be nearing the end after needing nine surgeries for various injuries in his 15 season career and may be more of a reliever or utilized if another pitcher higher in the rotation is injured.

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