D-backs’ Torey Lovullo announces starting rotation, Caleb Smith earns spot

Apr 5, 2022, 11:54 AM
Starting pitcher Caleb Smith #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks reacts as he pitches against the Milwa...
Starting pitcher Caleb Smith #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks reacts as he pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the fourth inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo announced the team’s starting rotation Tuesday, two days ahead of Opening Day.

Madison Bumgarner will start the season opener followed by Merrill Kelly, Zach Davies, Caleb Smith and Zac Gallen.

Lovullo also said there are one or two more bullpen spots still being evaluated, and therefore he did not disclose those who made the roster. He said on Monday, though, that Luke Weaver will come out of the pen after three seasons as a starter.

The manager stressed that camp was going to be competitive, and he went in with an open mind on who would crack the rotation, especially before the D-backs signed Davies on March 24.

Smith primarily entered out of the bullpen last season, although 13 of his 45 appearances were starts. He started 28 games for the Miami Marlins in 2019.

The lefty has a 3.21 ERA in 14 innings this spring, and Lovullo said he earned his spot.

“It wasn’t that he defaulted in this position. He went out and did everything he was supposed to do,” Lovullo said. “We feel like he’s got the track record, he’s done it before and it’s just a matter of going out and being consistent and getting that opportunity.”

Lovullo went to Peoria to observe Smith’s final spring outing before the season, and he was impressed by the 30-year-old’s ability to adjust and use pitching coach Brent Strom’s instruction.

Gallen has his spot after entering camp following a bursitis diagnosis in his shoulder during the offseason. He pitched in a spring training game on March 30 and will throw on Tuesday against the Cleveland Guardians in the final exhibition game before Opening Day.

Lovullo said he feels the rotation is a strength of the team entering the season and has been during his tenure. He was disappointed with Arizona’s defense last season and stressed that shoring up run prevention was key to work on during camp.

“We knew that we were going to prioritize a couple things: pitching and defense,” Lovullo said. “I think they go hand in hand. I think that’s the common denominator for all good baseball teams … I’ve always liked our starting pitching. I think that’s been our carry tool here for the past five years.”

The D-backs open their season against the Padres on Thursday at 6:40 p.m. The game will air on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.

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