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ESPN Insider: Ranks D-Backs rotation and bullpen fifth best

Major League Baseball’s hot stove may be settling to a
simmer, but the great debate rages on regarding which
team’s starting rotation and bullpen reigns supreme.

ESPN’s Buster Olney put together a pair of stories, with

target=”new”> starting rotations
.

He submitted both lists to the Twittersphere and garnered
a flood of impassioned responses from fans spanning both
coasts, though it’s doubtful any D-backs fan will complain
about where their team is ranked.

The D-backs transformed a woeful bullpen from 2010 —
arguably the team’s weakest link — into one of the game’s
deepest last year. The club’s relief corps, anchored by
closer J.J. Putz, got even stronger this offseason. The
back end of the Diamondbacks’ bullpen should prove
formidable once again in 2012 with the additions of grisly
veteran and well-traveled set-up man Takashi Saito, and
Craig Breslow rounds out a group that also consists of
David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, Joe Paterson and Bryan
Shaw.

While the success of the revamped D-backs bullpen has been
much ballyhooed, the solid production from their starting
rotation in 2011 cannot be overlooked.

Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson get all the accolades — and
rightfully so — but it’s the depth the rotation features
that may be its biggest strength.

Now the Diamondbacks have added ground-ball machine
Trevor Cahill in a trade with the Oakland Athletics.
Scouts say that Cahill seemed to lose some sink on his
fastball in 2011, along with his mechanical consistency,
and there is optimism in the Arizona organization that
Cahill will work well with pitching coach Charles Nagy.
Josh Collmenter is lined up as Arizona’s No. 4, with the
No. 5 starter still to be determined, but part of what
should make this rotation great is the strength around it
— the Diamondbacks have an excellent pipeline of talent
on the way, and a deep bullpen, as well.

Even though Joe Saunders’ arm played a pivotal role in the
team’s playoff run in 2011, his impending exit to free
agency should not hamper the performance from the team’s
starters.

The upstart Diamondbacks can only expect more promising
arms to debut in the Big Leagues soon, thanks in large
part to a deep farm system with a boatload of talent and
promise.

If the 2011 season put the D-backs pitchers back on the
map, the current crop of arms could send the team soaring
to the top of Olney’s list of the game’s best next
offseason.