With summer around the corner, things are heating up in the Valley of the Sun.
The same can be said about members of the D-backs pitching rotation.
Ian Kennedy (4-5), Daniel Hudson (2-1) and Trevor Cahill (3-5) all had expectations coming into this season to lift their team to the top of the National League standings on their superb right-handed pitching. Instead, they have a combined 9-11 record and an ERA of 3.99, leaving Arizona in the middle of the NL West.
But things started looking up for the D-backs following their 4-1 win against the San Francisco Giants last Thursday. In that game, Kennedy earned his first win since April 22nd, striking out seven batters and lowering his ERA from 4.65 to 4.26.
Continuing the trend, Hudson struck out five batters in eight innings during Arizona’s 4-2 win in San Diego on Saturday, while Cahill threw his second career complete game shutout the next day, a 6-0 blanking of the Padres.
Can the increase in sunshine and temperature be the explanation for the increase in productivity? Perhaps, but a more likely reason is that these pitchers perform better as the season goes on.
At this point in the 2011 season, Kennedy had an ERA of 3.16 and a 6-2 record. He went on to reduce that ERA to 2.88 and only lost two more games for the rest of the season, leading the Diamondbacks with 21 wins and finishing fourth in the NL Cy Young voting.
Hudson echoed Kennedy’s shrinking ERA, decreasing his from 4.13 at the end of May to 3.49 by season’s end. He also added ten wins against seven loses, finishing the year with a 16-12 record.
Only Cahill, then a member of the Oakland Athletics, did worse as the season went on. His ERA jumped from 2.31 to 4.16 and his record tailspinned from 6-3 to 12-14, but that can be expected when your team consistently faces hot-bat divisional rivals like the Angels and Rangers.
With expectations as high as the triple-digit temperature Arizona is known for, fans are hopeful that these pitchers can continue to bring the heat as the D-backs look to close the eight-game gap between themselves and the NL West leading Dodgers.