ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Merrill Kelly closes out solid spring, D-backs name rotation

Mar 28, 2021, 4:38 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2021, 8:01 am

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the fir...

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Merrill Kelly throws against the Milwaukee Brewers in the first inning of a spring baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, March 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

(AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Merrill Kelly held strong in his last spring outing for the Arizona Diamondbacks in Sunday’s 7-4 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

Over five innings of work, Kelly produced his best start of spring training. The 32-year-old gave up just one run and four hits, while striking out six and walking one.

The righty said after the game that it was encouraging to have such a great outing as the regular season draws near.

“The way my stuff looked, the way it was coming out, definitely the best I’ve felt all spring,” he said.

Kelly’s outing was supported by a D-backs’ offense that held a three-run lead until the White Sox rallied in the eighth inning to score five runs.

The righty closes out the spring with 17 strikeouts and 11 earned runs given up in 18.2 innings across five starts. Sunday’s game was the first of Kelly’s five starts in which he didn’t allow at least one earned run in the first inning.

“Obviously, spring training’s a process and you hope to kind of feel better and better each game and that’s kind of what happened,” Kelly said. “Definitely this one was a springboard, definitely leaps and bounds over the last couple with the way I felt. I’m excited to get going in San Diego.”

With four days left until the regular season begins, manager Torey Lovullo announced the team’s pitching rotation for the first few games of the year and Kelly will be seeing action in the second game of the series against the San Diego Padres.

Madison Bumgarner will get the nod for Opening Day against the San Diego Padres on Thursday, followed by Kelly on Friday and Caleb Smith on Saturday. Taylor Widener will close out the series against the Padres on April 4, while Luke Weaver will take the mound April 6 against the Colorado Rockies.

For Widener, it will be his first MLB start after making 12 appearances out of the bullpen for Arizona last season. Through three spring training games (one start), the 26-year-old has allowed four runs, walked one and struck out 12.

“I’m obviously very excited to get a chance to be in the rotation for us,” Widener said. “I love the bullpen, but I also love starting.

“I love the routine that I can get into and I know that I have my set days whenever I’m going to be able to throw, so I can set my workouts better. It gives you a little extra time to prepare and it just gets your body feeling right.”

The righty slots in for an injured Zac Gallen, who suffered a hairline stress fracture in his right arm. There is currently no timeline for Gallen’s return to the mound.

“Taylor’s been throwing the ball very, very well so I think we were looking for somebody that could step in there and give us a very capable outing,” Lovullo said. “Taylor definitely deserves that opportunity.”

UP NEXT

The D-backs travel to Mesa to take on the Chicago Cubs at 12:05 p.m. on Monday.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Colorado Rockies v Arizona Diamondbacks...

Alex Weiner

Reports: Diamondbacks sign draft picks Ivan Luciano, Tytus Cissell

The Arizona Diamondbacks took the next step adding a large segment of their 2024 draft class to the organization.

2 hours ago

Yilber Diaz...

Aaron Schmidt

Diamondbacks-Royals preview: Pitching probables, key players

The Arizona Diamondbacks look to keep their momentum as they open a three-game series against an improved Kansas City Royals team on Monday.

6 hours ago

Arizona Diamondbacks designated hitter Ketel Marte reacts to striking out during the eighth inning ...

Associated Press

Nico Hoerner’s bases-loaded walk in the 10th gives the Cubs a victory over the D-backs

Nico Hoerner walked with the bases loaded in the 10th to give the Chicago Cubs a 2-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday.

1 day ago

Corbin Carroll #7 of the Arizona Diamondbacks rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run in ...

Associated Press

Homers by Carroll, Thomas lead D-backs to victory over Cubs

Corbin Carroll hit a two-run homer and Alek Thomas had a solo shot in Arizona’s three-run fifth inning to help the D-backs beat the Cubs for their sixth win in seven games.

2 days ago

Justin Martinez...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks’ Jose Herrera showing leadership qualities with younger pitchers

Arizona Diamondbacks backup catcher Jose Herrera has grown over the years into "an extra coach in the dugout."

2 days ago

Tanner Scott...

Alex Weiner

Diamondbacks trade deadline: 10 left-handed relievers to keep an eye on

The Diamondbacks are in need of left-handed relief help, and there is a group of southpaws on teams well out of contention.

3 days ago

Merrill Kelly closes out solid spring, D-backs name rotation