D-backs’ Alex Young preparing as starter but ready for bullpen role

Feb 26, 2021, 9:01 AM
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)...
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Alex Young had his first spring training with the club cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now heading into his second, the left-hander is looking forward to his first full spring with the D-backs.

A question surrounding Arizona heading into the 2021 season is who exactly will be at the back end of the rotation?

In two years with the Diamondbacks, Young has been used both as a starter and reliever.

“There’s a lot of competition with the pitching side, so I think that really plays a big role,” he told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Thursday.

“I think every guy is competing to basically earn a spot. That’s my mindset right now — just to compete and earn a spot wherever it is. So I think that’s going to be the biggest thing in the spring, going into the season is just competition.”

After getting called up from Triple-A Reno in June 2019, he went on to make 17 appearances for Arizona, 15 of which were starts. In 83.1 innings pitched for the D-backs that season, Young posted a 3.56 ERA to go along with 71 strikeouts (7.7 strikeouts per nine innings) and a 1.18 WHIP.

Now compare that to last season in which Young took the bump 15 times, but only seven of those were starts. However, all seven of his starts came in his last eight appearances of 2020. Young managed a 5.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP and 39 punchouts over 46.1 innings of work, but did maintain his strikeouts per nine innings pitched ratio at 7.6.

“Right now it’s just building up, getting innings,” Young said. “Obviously it’s easier to build up to be a starter and then work your way down to be a reliever. So that’s kind of the plan right now and just kind of see how it plays out. But whatever role I get put in I’ll be happy with.”

This offseason saw the NL West division rival Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres make huge splashes in acquiring the likes of pitchers Trevor Bauer (Dodgers), Blake Snell (Padres) and Yu Darvish (Padres). Not to mention that the Dodgers are also the defending World Series champions.

D-backs manager Torey Lovullo reiterated Wednesday that the team is not in a rebuilding mode. And while assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye acknowledged that Arizona won’t “unseat the Dodgers or Padres on Day 1,” Young believes the 2021 Diamondbacks can compete with anyone.

“Last year, I think that we didn’t play our best baseball,” Young said. “I still think we’re just as good as anyone. The nine guys we put on the field, we’re going to compete regardless. … I’ll put our guys up against anyone.”

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